Aug 162010

As Australia approaches a federal election with scarcely a decent option on the ballot paper, one of the issues that I wish would receive more attention is international aid.  Australia has committed to the Millennium Development Goals, which involve serious effort to eliminate extreme poverty by 2015.  That deadline is rapidly approaching, and will be upon us by the end of this next term of Australian government.

I sent the following letter 4 days ago in response to a Liberal Party announcement, to make sure that politicians are aware that this issue matters.

Dear Foreign Minister Smith and Prime Minister Gillard,

This afternoon Julie Bishop committed to appointing a Minister for International Development in an elected coalition government.

I am well aware of our globally privileged position in Australia, and am anxious to use this position of wealth to help those in our international community who are less fortunate.

A Minister for International Development may improve the effectiveness of our aid, but I see that you have a wonderful opportunity to surpass the Liberal party’s proposal.

Will you commit to policies that achieve the Millennium Development Goals by their 2015 deadline?

I don’t claim this to be the best possible letter, but I was trying to ask for more than just a matching announcement about appointing a new minister.  I was (and remain) concerned that such an appointment might end up being more about show and noise than about genuine commitment to action.  Thus I asked more generally for policies that achieve the MDGs.

I have just received the following response from the Australian Labor Party.  Continue reading »

Jul 142008

Last year I wrote a letter to Bob McMullan as part of the Australian Conservation Foundation’s WhoOnEarthCares campaign.  I received a fairly prompt reply, but its hard to tell just how much impact a letter like that really has.

Australia is now approaching another milestone, with the federal government preparing to set a target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.  The draft report of Professor Garnaut’s Climate Change Review has given a new opportunity to write a letter through WhoOnEarthCares, and just in case it can actually have an impact, I’ve posted one off.

I strongly encourage you to say you care too, and again here is a copy of my letter to inspire you. Continue reading »

Nov 302007

I have deliberately avoided writing much here about the recent Australian federal election. I did, however, follow the process and ensuing events with interest.

A few days ago I read a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald by former Prime Minister Paul Keating, arguing that Howard squandered the opportunities provided to him. Obviously Keating is somewhat biased, but the article made me think about the legacy left by the outgoing Liberal government.

Even more interesting was an article I read today predicting the demise of the Liberal Party. Psychologist and author Steve Biddulph argues that: Continue reading »

Oct 252007

My credit union, MECU, is committed to environmental and social sustainability; it was a primary factor in my choice of banking institution. This morning when I logged on to check my account balance I saw the link ACF is asking the question: Who On Earth Cares?

This Australian Conservation Foundation initiative is very nicely thought out. You can add yourself to the map, and show that you really do care by sending a letter to your local representative in parliament. In 5 simple steps you fill out a basic profile and a personal letter is automatically generated for you to print out. Their system is beautiful – you can even edit the auto-generated text of the letter before creating a pdf copy to print.

So here’s a challenge: put yourself on the map and see who else cares. To help inspire you, here is a copy of the letter I’m sending to Bob McMullan MP, my federal representative: Continue reading »

Sep 122007

A while ago I added Kevin Rudd and my own federal MP, Bob McMullan, as friends on my MySpace profile.  This morning I went to see what Bob McMullan was up to, and was quite interested to discover that he is quite actively blogging.  I read through a fair bit of his latest post, which is a transcript of his recent speech about the war between federal and state politics.

I was genuinely impressed to see a politician so keenly using a medium which is rarely natural or intuitive for his generation.  Bob McMullan seems honestly trying to harness Web 2.0 technology to improve the process of democracy, and I left a comment of congratulations and encouragement on his space.

Within a few hours I had a new message on my own MySpace:

  Thanks, Lachlan.

I find that blogging is a great way to communicate about political issues to complex for a soundbite, and it’s great that it’s more than a one-way conversation, too.


The two-way (or read-write, or participatory) nature of Web 2.0 is something that I have explored at length while following the masterful thoughts of Lawrence Lessig.  Well done, Bob, for stepping beyond the comfortable and facilitating informed and intelligent discussion of issues that are, admittedly, complex.  This attitude, far more even than policy, makes me proud to be represented by the Member for Fraser.

Aug 202007

After lunch today I dropped into the University Co-op bookshop for a quick browse around. I happened to pick up the recently published political biography of Kevin Rudd, and glance through a few pages. Discussing Rudd’s rise in popularity within the Labor party, the author pointed out that many of his fellow Labor MPs were disappointed that he sometimes agreed with or complimented government action.

Rudd sometimes appeared more focused on achieving the correct policy, rather than engaging in political opportunism. (p191)

I’ve heard similar complaints about previous opposition leaders, and I find it very disappointing. It seems that people have a mysteriously distorted view of good politics: they apparently expect good conflict, such as will be fun and entertaining to watch.

Surely the best path for the nation (and indeed, the globe) is to learn to value “correct policy“. We should be glad of the occasions when our government gets it right enough for the opposition to agree. Sadly, it seems obvious to me that our current government is placing a far greater emphasis on self-benefit than on pursuing correct policy.