AN OPEN LETTER TO MR ABBOTT

March 18, 2014

Sammi Taylor

Dear Mr. Abbott,

Last week, you had the pleasure of meeting with a group of Year Nine students on the lawn of Parliament House. They interrogated questioned you about the issues they were passionate about and were patient to listen for your answers. The inquisitive and intellectual nature of these questions quite frankly, put the current press gallery to shame. In your chance meeting with this school group, a handful of 15 year olds managed not to jump around the bush and instead got straight to it—they were interested, and they wanted proper answers.

Q&A style, when one girl asked you about axing the Carbon Tax, you replied with “I know you’ll think this is sort of a boring politicians answer, but…”

Allow me to let you know exactly where you went wrong, Tony (and it’s not even the condescending tone you used to talk down to these young Australians.)

These Year Nines are actually interested in your “boring politicians answers”. Because they’re not boring at all. In fact, we “kids” actually care a lot about what you have to say. In case you forgot, you’re running the country. And your parliamentary decisions impact heavily upon the “kids” of today.

By assuming that youth aren’t at all interested in politics, you’re discouraging an entire generation of future voters and politicians. In 30 years, maybe one of those kids will be standing where you stand now. And they will remember how the leader of their country once treated them as if they were nothing but naive children.

When I was 15, I stayed up on school nights to watch Q&A and followed all of my favourite political commentators on twitter. When I was 16, I spent a week on the editorial floor of the Herald Sun on a student internship, watching intently as the journalists around me reacted to the first Labor spill of 2013. I was entranced by it all, and though the leadership of our country was ultimately falling to pieces (unfortunately finding its way into your hands) I couldn’t help but find it all so damn interesting. And now, at 17, I’m writing you a letter for an online blog to publish—about your political decisions.

Don’t assume that teenagers aren’t interested in politics, and don’t forget that in a few years time, we’re the ones with the power to determine whether you stick around for another term. Which, judging by the 50,000 people that rallied against you in last weekend’s March in March protests, doesn’t seem all too likely. Teenagers care about politics because we care about our country, and we don’t want to see it fall apart. We don’t want to be a part of a society that favours money over basic human rights, or the economy over equality. We want positive change, and somehow, I don’t think you’re going to give that to us.

Teenagers don’t really seem to like you. I mean, you oppose all the things that we’re passionate about (FYI: Marriage equality is not a “definitional” thing. C’mon Tony, even you could have come up with something better than that) and I’m sure one of the Year Nines you spoke to could have given you the dose of compassion that’s obviously needed in approach to the asylum seeker issue. Now I’m not suggesting you go A-là-Rudd and try to totally relate to the kids (no-one wants to see your instagram selfie of a shaving cut, Kev) but a little effort wouldn’t hurt. That means no more condescending lectures about “boring politicians” and no more avoiding the question. We want answers. Simple as that.

You shouldn’t be surprised at just how intelligent the youth of today are. We’d much prefer to discuss the plight of the asylum seekers on Manus Island than know about what footy team you barrack for. I’d sure love to ask about what you, as the Minister for Women, plan to do about the gender pay gap, glass ceiling and horrifically unbalanced state of female representation in your Cabinet. I would hope that you’d give me more of an eloquent response than “Let’s have a blokes question”.

Of the 50,000 people who congregated on the streets to protest your policies and shout your name among many synonyms for the word ‘nasty’ last weekend, thousands of them were teenagers. They chanted for animal welfare, asylum seekers, foreign affairs, university cuts, marriage equality and anything else that was close to their heart. They care about politics. I care about politics. Don’t you dare discourage that.

And rather than joining the Liberal Party, as you so cordially suggested, I think I’ll just write about you instead. It’s far more fun.

Yours Sincerely,

Sammi

Sammi Taylor

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