Needs more green ink

My partner felt a need to contribute to the blizzard of postal spam that preceded the Australian election of last weekend. So she signed her name to a letter declaring her belief, and that of some other women here in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, that Australian Liberal Party Prime-Ministerial candidate Tony Abbott is, among his many other fascinating qualities, no friend to women.

I can save you the trouble of reading those last few links, by just saying that Tony's a conservative Catholic. He actually studied to be a priest before deciding to switch to the less stigmatised profession of journalism, and thence to the even more upstanding life of a politician. The current watch-this-space, don't-get-too-attached-to-her Labor leader Julia Gillard is, downright astonishingly by the standards of modern Western politics, an admitted atheist.

The upshot of the election was a hung Parliament, in which the two major parties fought each other to a standstill, leaving Gillard as a "caretaker Prime Minister" and a few independents, plus exactly one Green, holding the balance of power.

Voting - well, technically just getting your name ticked off on the list, and then doing something which resembles voting - is mandatory in Australia. (The penalty for not getting your name checked off exceeds nineteen dollars!) But the process is enlivened by our preferential voting system. This allows one to at least indicate who one would like to run the country instead of the ratbags of Major Party A or the scumbuckets of Major Party B, while still being able to say that if you have to have ratbags or scumbuckets, you'd prefer the ratbags. Or the scumbuckets.

Which is to say, I don't think it's excessively presumptuous to say that the women who signed the anti-Abbott letter are not delighted beyond all human reckoning with the Labor alternative. They'd just prefer it.

Yesterday we received a letter, about the anti-Abbott letter. I find this second letter delightful in every way, and I wish its anonymous author - who's phoned us too, but regrettably only been able to leave a message - another 73 years of good health and Apoplectic Capital Letters.

I suppose I should show you the actual anti-Abbott letter first, but it's kind of boring while the reply is hilarious, so here's a compromise: Read on for the original letter, or click here to skip straight to the reply!

(My few additions below are in [square brackets].)

Dear [recipient's name]

We are writing to you as concerned members of the community. This election is critical and we are asking all women to seriously consider how they vote.

Australia is at serious risk of returning to an ulta-conservative Abbott-led Government. Women need to consider Mr Abbott's track record on a range of issues that impact women and their lives.

Whilst Mr Abbott has tried to distance himself from comments he has made by shrugging them off as a joke, we don't believe they are a joking matter.

Over the years Mr Abbott has made his views clear on the role of women in our society:

"I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation...simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons".
[to a reporter, back in 1979]

"For myself, I don't support "women's" causes. I support conservative causes."
[posted by Mr Abbott on his Web site in September 2008]

"I won't be rushing out to get my daughters vaccinated against cervical cancer."
[from 2006]

Just last week Mr Abbott said at a press conference:

"Are you suggesting to me that when it comes from Julia, 'No' doesn't mean 'No'?"
[August 2010]

This is a clear reference to the anti-sexual assault campaign slogan. Mr Abbott should know that sexual assault is never a laughing matter.

We believe that Mr Abbott and his Government would take back all the gains that women have achieved over the last 50-odd years. Please consider how you vote on August 21 - don't send Australian women back to the kitchen.

Yours sincerely,

Marg Acton, Helen Chapman, Kate Cooke, Irena Kesa, Naomi Parry, Sharon Dart, Libby O'Donnell, Jude Cooke, Chrissy Girard, Ashleigh Cummings, Anne O'Grady, Jackie Manners, Mary Travers, Angela Cleary, Samantha Clarke, Gay Thew, Kathy O'Hara, Susie McMeekin, Reenie Kuypers, Sarah Terkes, Xanthe Stavrakis, Genie Melone, Jo Hibbert, Susan Ambler, Sam Thompson, Lesley Sammon, Deanne Dale, Lorraine Vogel, Suzanne Langford and Sara Rose.

Residents of the Blue Mountains.

Authorised by Elizabeth O'Donnell, 9 Vale Street, Katoomba, 2780.

And now, the response!

(The links in the text below were added by me. Everything else was in the original. It was, sadly, just two sheets of plain photocopied 24-pin dot-matrix printout, with no green ink or underlining. I have taken care to reproduce its exact content, though.)

To The LABOR Women of the Blue Mountains

What a lot of misguided people you all are. To align yourself with the Labor Party tells me that you are possibly not very well educated, domineering, rather spiteful and definitely 'Greenies' — who believe in the scam of 'Global Warming' which is actually caused by Natural Solar Processes which also control the Ocean Tides — the Change of Seasons — the Sun Shining — Winds blowing — Earth Quakes — and Volcanos

The Labor Party — the Unions — the Greenies or anyone else does not have the Power to change the way the Universe has 'worked' since time began. Nothing Julia Giilard can do will make any difference to the Atmosphere --- but it will make a huge difference to your Bank Account in a NEGATIVE way but - will boost the Bank Account of Magabi's personal Bank balance plus the Bank Accounts of Leaders of Third World, Asian and African Countries.

I am amazed how low you women have gone to dig deep into some garbage back in 1979 to 'print a portion' of something Tony Abbott said when he was a very young 20 to 22 year old. I would hope he would have different ideas now as a very responsible adult - than he had when he was in his twenties — it is a pity you women don't learn from him.!

I did think very carefully before I voted and made very sure I put Labor no. 84 and the Greens no.83 on the big voting sheet — it was a task to fill out all the numbers but well satisfying.

Tony Abbott is well aware of womens needs being a married man with three beautiful daughters --- Julia Giilard will NEVER have the insight into womens needs as Tony Abbott does — being a Husband and Father of three daughters,

I was born at Wentworth Falls in 1937 - went to school at Wentworth Falls Primary and then Katoomba High — when it was in Parke St Katoomba .

My Father had a business at Wentworth Falls.

I have four Children and eleven Grandchildren and five Great Grand Children and have seen many changes over the years including a number of Prime Ministers and Politicians including the Great Sir Robert Menzies and John Howard. Then came the hateful — spiteful Labor Party who are so manipulative and eventually 'stabbed their own Leader in the back' so as Julia Gillard could fulfil her aspirations as Prime Minister --- and this is the Party you want people to vote for --- you must be joking.!

I think YOU lot, are the ones who should be giving a lot of thought about the Politicians you are so wrapped in.


Mountain Nanny

(After a bit of redistribution, the previously-safe-Labor seat in which we live went to the Liberals.)

18 Responses to “Needs more green ink”

  1. iworm Says:

    Dear Mr. Data

    I Wish To Protest At Your Characterization Of Users Of Green Ink As Cranks, Loonies and Nutters.

    I Happen To Use Green Ink A Lot And I Am Not A Crank Nor A Nutter.

    Thank You.
    Mountain Goat

    PS The sad thing is: I actually *do* use green ink. Watermans. Love it. But I don't write letters using it. :-)
    PPS For some reason my favourite part above is "Earth Quakes."
    PPPS I'm old enough to remember *lusting* after a 24-pin matrix printer, so vastly superior to my 9-pin Epson.
    PPPPS Glad to hear that you Aussies have a well-hung Parliament.

  2. JokeyRhyme Says:

    I love how living (I assume) in close proximity to a handful of women immediately makes one more qualified to understand women than an actual woman. :)

    At the end of the day, nobody is perfect and there is certainly no pleasing everyone. Giving the same group of people the responsibility to make decisions about a stunningly broad range of issues for a period of time is always going to be more convenient than it is fair.

    I'd like to see some experimentation in government. I've read (without giving you links, ha!) that voting systems where you give every party a score from 0 to 100 tend to be more inherently fair than what we see here and elsewhere. Also, we now have the technology to make referendums more frequent, which would at the very least make populism a much more accurate affair.

  3. hornetfig Says:

    well you can at least be in the comfort that if Mountain Nanny did indeed "put Labor no. 84 and the Greens no.83 on the big voting sheet" then her Senate vote was informal and counted for nothing.

  4. mcarden Says:

    It is nice to see that even a barking mad defender of the religious right is capable of writing a response without swearing or massive abuses of spelling and grammar.

    Oh, and I didn't know Tony's mum lived up in the Blueys.


  5. corinoco Says:

    Why the hell do people in this country get so anti/pro Labor/Liberal? It's not like you can easily spot the difference by looking at their policies or success rates. Add to that that ours is a client economy of the PRC and USA anyway, so our Governments have bugger-all effect apart from how much dosh they can stuff into their own trousers.

    It's not as if a hung parliament with a casting vote of Greens is suddenly going to see all cars made illegal, bicycle riding become mandatory, our public transport suddenly getting fixed and eating meat becoming a capital crime, is it?

    The problem this time was there were SO MANY (can't be bothered linking, its late) people I wanted to put '84'. As usual, the Raving-Nutter-Loony Party led by Fred 'The vile' Nile got my 84.

    I gave the Commies the '1', bring on the Revolution I say!

  6. mech Says:

    Am I missing something here? What do those quotes prove?

    The first one is damning but is from 31 years ago.

    The second one is plainly taken out of context without even looking at the source (and a click through confirms it).

    The third one is a personal choice he's made with his family.

    The fourth one is just looking for something to get upset about.

    As corinoco said, it's crazy how partisan things get. I don't support Tony Abbott's personal viewpoints, but he's not the one that would be making all the laws. Kevin Rudd was just as religious as Tony Abbott but that didn't stop my pinko atheist mates voting for him while bashing Tony Abbott (pinko comment being tongue in cheek before someone gets upset). Meanwhile Gillard is an Atheist but won't move to legalise gay marriage. You need to look at the whole picture, not just cherry pick the bits that fit with your world view.

    I personally hope Tony Abbott gets in just so I can see whether all my friends will move overseas like they promised they would if he got in. Such hoopla and over the top misrepresentation is just as bad as the whackjob people on the other side like the letter you posted.

    Finally - I found this article to be pretty interesting.

  7. Daniel Rutter Says:

    I wasn't crazy about the quotes either, and I think putting the 1979 one in there was just dumb.

    I think what the authors of the letter were trying to do was distinguish themselves from the rest of the election-spam, which was heavy on the unsourced declarative statements - "We Will Stop The Tide Of Muslim Terror!", "They Will Destroy Your Union!", etc.

    (I cherished the single cheaply-printed pamphlet we got from the Communist Alliance.)

    While I agree that there's no gigantic difference between the major parties on a lot of issues - if one side says they still don't really believe climate change is happening, and the other says that it's happening and it's very very important and they plan to convene a committee to analyse different options regarding non-binding agreements to alter policy regarding peak-body guidance memos at some point in the next 50 years, no meaningful choice is being presented.

    But on mainstream feminist issues like no-fault divorce and abortion, there is a pretty clear difference. Abbott has made very clear that he really is a conservative Catholic on those issues, and if the Liberals had won the election, it's within the bounds of possibility that he'd actually do something about them.

  8. Bern Says:

    This kind of stuff is why I get so annoyed at politics. For so many people, it instantly becomes "if you don't agree with everything our beloved leader proclaims, you're one of THEM and are trying to destroy the country and send us all into penury/slavery/hell/whatever..."

    It's so very, very rare to hear a voice of reason in the political sphere. I guess adversarial wedge politics gets more votes... ("Vote for me! Not because I'd be a better choice, but because that Other Guy is Evil Incarnate and Eats Babies!")

    I did vote for Labor once. I even voted for the Liberals once, too - back in the Hewson days, when (thanks to a uni assignment) I actually took to the time to read the policy documents put forth by the Hewson & Keating campaigns (I still think the original Hewson GST proposal was a good thing - shame we ended up with something that only bore the vaguest resemblance).

    But I think that might have been the last election at which I voted for *either* of the two main parties.

  9. badcommandorfilename Says:

    The anti-labor letter was hilarious.

    It begins "To align yourself with the Labor Party tells me that you are possibly not very well educated..."

    Then launches into a letter filled with grammar and punctuation mistakes! Here are a few of my favorites:

    1) Lists of items should use commas to separate items, not hyphens.
    2) ".!"
    3) "Julia Giilard will NEVER have the insight into womens needs"
    4) Repeatedly starting non-proper nouns with capital letters.

    I could go on, but the letter speaks for itself. I'm not particularly fond of Labor's campaign this year, but suffice to say that still I put them ahead of One Nation and the Non-Custodial Parents Party.

  10. Red October Says:

    It's a cold sort of comfort to see this kind of shit in foreign lands (I'm American), since every day I see how ineffectual my contry's political system is. At nearly every election we are handed a choice between people who will make a bunch of bad choices on certain issues, and leave other situations alone. Very infrequently do we get to vote for someone who will affect a positive change, and if that person even says they will make some sort of smart maneuver, it's a given that they will make three stupid ones on other, equally important issues. Politicians like bad choices because if you take some socially important issue (like healthcare, social programs, the economy, etc.) and say that you are going to fix it, but then enact policy that doesn't really fix it, the issue stays around for you to use again while people get the impression that you helped, or tried to, and only those small-minded idiots who stood against you are to blame for the issue staying a problem.

    Dan, you hit the nail on the head about being presented with "no meaningful choice" -I can't recall ever voting FOR someone, and only twice for a measure (once a decrease in income tax, which failed, and once a decriminalization of marihuana, which passed) -but I frequently vote AGAINST some idiot who presents the greater margin of bad choices.

  11. Popup Says:

    A more important question:

    How come it's labor and not labour?
    I thought Australians still sprinkled 'u's in their spelling like good little colonials?

  12. rndmnmbr Says:

    Another American chiming in. Gods I hate politics. Down here on the bottom, it's all "Come join our tribe because THEIR tribe eats babies!" and people just lap it up. Then when it's all over, the winning party meets with lobbyists in some back room, and it's all "Remember that fifty million dollars we gave you to get yourself elected? Say thank you. Now, here are the issues we the corporations feel strongly about, here are the results we expect from your administration, here's the embarrassing political gaff we're holding over your head. Jump."

  13. Daniel Rutter Says:

    How come it's labor and not labour?

    When the party was formed in the late 19th century, they used the now-normal-in-the-UK-and-Australia "Labour" spelling, though apparently both spellings were common in the UK not very long before. (A lot of "simplified" US spellings are actually fossils that've stayed unchanged while the Commonwealth shifted to more complex spellings like "programme".)

    Then in 1912 they "modernised" the spelling to "Labor", to emphasise their connection with the burgeoning union movement in the USA.

  14. corinoco Says:

    I did not know that. I have always assumed it was because they couldn't spell.

    "Spelling is a decadent luxury with which the bourgeoisie classes oppress the proletariat." - Vladimir Lenin ALP Me.

    I just spelled bourgeoisie correctly first try! Thank you year-10 History teacher!

  15. Hewy Says:

    Dan, do you really believe that Abbott, if Prime Minister, would change abortion and divorce law? Seriously?

    Obviously the climate change rant was out there, but probably on a par with the specious quotes of the original letter.

    There's plenty of climate change sceptics in both major parties, but I think scepticism was basically a convenient tool for the opposition to use to prevent an ill thought out, virtually unexplainable, uncosted carbon tax (that unbelievably gave massive concessions to coal producers!!) at a time of economic uncertainty.

  16. thornae Says:


    Julia Giilard will NEVER have the insight into womens needs as Tony Abbott does

    That's some Champagne Comedy, there. If I happened to be a stand-up comic sort of person, I'd be stealing that.

    Anyway, best of luck with it all. Having affirmed I've left the country for more than six years, they won't let me participate any more, but I still observe with interest.

    Personally, I'm hoping they'll do some data mining on the informal votes for this time. It'd be interesting to see how many were purely blank, as opposed to having some sort of message. My favourite reported informal ballot had written on it "Mark Latham is a tool, but he has a point."

  17. speedweasel Says:

    As a militant anti-theist, (you know, one of those dangerous atheists who commit the crime of offering their opinions freely) I just want to avoid having government policy dictated by a credulous bigot armed with a pre-enlightenment (mis)education.

  18. A late arrival Says:

    I would have thought the best evidence of Abbott's likely behaviour as Prime Minister would have been to look at his tenure as a Minister. Specifically, his decisions when his personal beliefs about abortion came into conflict with the advice of his department about the potential dangers of an abortion pill. Ignoring their advice, he refused to lift a ban on it.

    The parliament (including many in his own party) saw this as such an abuse of power that they stripped him of that discretion.

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