Heart to heart

Are you blinded by the brand, Bill?

Dear Bill Shorten,

As a former member of the ALP I’d like to tell you what it would take for me to rejoin the ALP or even vote for you. Stop being a “brand” and start being a party that stands for something other than the free market and the “level playing field”.

Start giving the ordinary people some hope that they can improve their lot and that their efforts will be rewarded. Stop treating the rich as though they were some endangered species.

Maybe you can start by re-nationalising the Commonwealth Bank and offering credit cards at 5 per cent interest. Perhaps tearing up a few “free trade” agreements and starting to invest in Australian science and education would revitalise your chances.

I really couldn’t give a tinker’s about same-sex marriages: our environment, who owns it and what the future holds for our youth are far more important issues.

I’m sick of the short-term thinking that passes for real long-term planning. If our future really depends on being the “clever country” (a term that seems to have disappeared from political debate in this nation) then promise to fully implement the Gonski reforms, promise to abolish university and TAFE fees and stop the privatisation by stealth of our education and health systems.

Instead of allowing manufacturing industry to collapse and those jobs to be relocated to unsafe sweatshops in Third World countries why don’t you promise to nationalise car factories (without compensation) so that those skills can be retained and our youth at least have some hope of meaningful employment? Has it escaped your notice that the reason for Germany’s economic strength might lie in its investment in technical education and its refusal to abandon manufacturing industries?

If Ford or General Motors don’t want to build cars here maybe BMW or Volkswagen or FIAT could be persuaded to do so. I can remember when we built Volvos in this country (and they were bloody good!).

Perhaps you might just get yourself elected if you committed the ALP to protecting our farmers from being swindled by corporate malefactors and nationalising the mining industry so that the next commodities boom actually benefits all Australians and doesn’t just fatten Gina Reinhart’s bank account.

You might get the people behind you if you were to set out a strategy of investment in alternative energy sources, unique agricultural products ( such as a proper kangaroo meat industry), value-adding industries and infrastructure such as efficient rail links, maybe an international airport for Canberra and road and rail tunnels under the Blue Mountains.

More than anything else, what would really get my vote would be if you put a stop to government by the bean-counters. For too long, the real masters have been the bean-counters, the Treasury officials who have told you how much you can spend.

I would love to have a government that turned around to these parasites and said: “This is how much we need to have a first-class public education system, a first-class public health system, no more homeless, no mentally-ill people walking the streets, no youth suicide, no domestic violence, proper care for the aged and disabled and their carers, a fully-funded and functioning CSIRO, ABC and SBS and no unemployed: now go out and raise the revenue.”

Raise my taxes, Bill, if that’s what it takes, because taxation is the membership fee you pay to live in a society, and for too long we’ve been living in an economy.

Yours sincerely,
R. Linkiewicz, Woolooware HS