An Open Letter to Tony Abbott

Dear Tony,

On behalf of myself (and, I suspect, millions of other Australians), I have one very simple request to make.

Don’t f**k this up

I, for one, was diametrically opposed to the LNP taking power in yesterday’s Federal election. I had many strong, well-researched and widely-shared opinions about the profound damage you and your party are likely to perpetrate on a country I know you care very deeply about.

That’s the Tony Abbot I want to talk to now – the one who became a politician out of his desire for public service to the people of Australia. The husband and father and neighbour. The mate that you are to many, I’m sure.

I want to talk to the guy who knows how to love, who cried when his kids were born, who agonises over making the right choices for his family

I want to talk to the guy your family knows, because if you really are as bad as some people seem to believe, they presumably wouldn’t still be around.

Humanity, as you know far better than many, is at a crossroads. While some would argue that, despite what challenges appear to face our species, humans are ingenius and will figure their way through whatever comes next, some of us are a little more cautious.

Australia, perhaps surprisingly, has managed to weather many of the storms that have befallen other countries in recent times. We’ve not been invaded, subject to large-scale terror attacks or extreme weather events (not really). Our economy is AAA rated, our government hasn’t been toppled due to civil unrest and we still seem to have an inordinate amount of natural resources we can suck, dig and blow out of the ground. On pretty much every conceivable metric we are one of the top rated countries in the world (although some metrics might be better to wilfully ignore).

Australia really is the lucky country.

What many – with a less nuanced appreciation of history than you – seem to forget is that when Donald Horne wrote in 1964 Australia is a lucky country, run by second rate people who share its luck he was commenting that our economic prosperity was largely derived from our natural resources, not from our intelligence.’Lucky Country’ was meant as a pejorative. It’s possible that without all of the afore-mentioned natural goodies we’ve had at our fingertips for so long, Australia would be a third tier economy with few prospects for engaging with the rest of the world.

The question many of us are now asking is, ‘what happens when we run out of whatever we can rip out of the ground?’

Government’s operate in a continuum – everybody knows that, right? There are infinite variables at play over time that result in our present set of circumstances. As I’ve said previously

anybody who really thinks they can identify a linear cause and effect relationship between the infinite variables at play in a complex universe is either a god or insane

For now, at least, I rest confident in the belief that you know you’re not a god.

Previous governments have succeeded and failed in equal measure … although the fact that Australia is still around to tell boatloads of innovative, determined and resourceful people who have survived against incalculable odds (entrepreneurs, right, the ones we rely on to make our economy function?) to fuck off should be evidence enough that the successes have outweighed the failures.

So far.

So here’s the thing.

Many of us – likely those millions I referenced earlier – are still diametrically opposed to some, if not all, of your primary stated agenda. Some would go so far as to say that it’s criminally insane. We’re not all card carrying Labor or Greens party members either. Some are simply parrotting the party line in the same way that many who did vote for the LNP have.

I, for one, like to think I’ve been gifted with enough intelligence not to blindly follow any particular ideology or leader without having a comprehensive understanding of who they are, what they believe and what they are likely to do in service to their constituents

That’s how a representative democracy is supposed to work, isn’t it?

So let’s be clear. Australia is in an enviable position around the world. You know that. Maintaining that enviable position is likely a good idea. That means taking very seriously questions of infrastructure – particularly communications infrastructure – to support the systems that make this country function. Why do you think so many of our best and brightest wind up moving to London, New York, San Francisco?

Do you think that as the world gets faster those who make a living by selling their intelligence are going to remain hamstrung by a nation that belligerently refuses to prepare for the 22nd century?

I’m not going to lecture you on economic theory – largely because you’d kick my ass – nor am I going to belabour any of the points that have been expressed satirically, rationally and vehemently in many other quarters.

What I’d like to do is remind you of a few salient points:

  1. When you become Prime Minister, you will serve at Her Majesty’s pleasure. In her noticeable absence, you will serve at ours.
  2. We didn’t elect you. We elected your party. You can be made to go away.
  3. Australia doesn’t belong to any one person. It belongs to all of us. That means that no one person gets to exert their philosophical view onto the entire country. I don’t really care what you believe, to be honest (unless it’s criminally insane). It’s not your job to run the country according to what you believe. It’s to run the country in service to 24 million Australians. This is not North Korea.
  4. Climate change is real. Yes, I get that you know this, but let’s just make sure that we know that you know. Remind us of this fact. We’d like to hear you publicly declare it again, so that if you seek to enact policy that is at odds with a publicly expressed declaration about the reality of climate change, we can replace you.
  5. Be a man and stand for something. You’ve spent so long in opposition that you seem to think that opposing something is the same as standing for something. It’s not.

In conclusion

For politics to truly represent the will of the people, the primary tools in use need to be wielded by the most intelligent, compassionate and rational people in the country …. many if not most of whom, don’t actually work for you. We’re smart, we’re capable and we have dedicated our lives to the common good.

We are your army

We’re not an army you get to deploy, however, we’re an army you get to invite … and make no mistake, if the party’s not rocking when we show up, there’ll be a riot going on by the time we leave.

We’re not followers, we’re leaders. We are the thorn in the side of any government. We are the ones who listen, consider, debate and take action. We are hungry, tenacious and passionately committed to serving the common good.

We are not under your command. We are under god’s … and between us we have tens of millions of years of experience as warriors, artists and philosophers. We are bloodied and ancient and wise.

We are angels. We are an immense force for good in the world … and like angels, we carry the power to wreak havoc upon anyone or anything that would impinge upon the sovereign rights of all humans

We are legion

So that it’s really clear, we’re going to be watching. Very closely. Your government is going to be the most scrutinised in Australia’s history. Not only will you be watched, you will be guided, supported, influenced and, when necessary dragged beaten and bloodied toward the right path.

… and if you fuck this up, it won’t be a long drawn out debated in lounge-rooms, coffee-shops and bars process to get rid of you. We will take immediate, immense and irrevocable action.

So here we are. Informed, insightful, experienced and energised enough to help make Australia a even more amazing than it already is. We don’t want to leave our future to luck. We want to create it – together.

In closing, I offer this. If in my observation, interrogation and action you ever feel as if I’m standing too close, you can respond in one of two ways. You can find a way to close me out, or you can reach out and pull me even closer. We may not ever be friends, but if we remember why we’re here – to serve the many as well as ourselves – we may find breaking bread and conversing together to be of mutual benefit.

In love or in war I look forward to making your acquaintance. Regardless, I will always do my best to serve

Cameron Burgess

81 Langton Street #10
San Francisco, USA, 94103

PS: Honour and respect to your family. I imagine being a part of this process must require great strength, tenacity and love – you’re a lucky man.

Comments 2

  1. In the depressing aftermath of the hardly unexpected rout of a government that did mostly good things at the right time, but fell back to its ugly old ways of “eating its own young”, Cameron’s letter has encouraged me to look up and forward again. A considered voice of reason amidst the clamour. Thank you.

  2. Thank you Cameron for giving voice to all I would like to have said, had I not lost heart. For shining your light so brightly on all that matters most. You have indeed given me heart!

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