Thursday, 26 May 2011

Time to get back in the kitchen, and knit that new set of saucepans

A number of things have happened up here in National Party heartland in the last two weeks.

The first ‘high’ point was that John and I have found ourselves immortalised in the pages of the Port Paper, my favourite scurrilous local paper. And page 2, no less.

For those of you that read my last rant, you would know that one of the things I objected to in my litany of complaint against the media was that the Port Paper had hired someone with no qualifications and touted him as an “expert” on climate change at a rally organised in part by themselves.

I emailed them and objected to what I saw was a blatant attempt to beat up hysteria about the carbon tax, and assured them that some people in this electorate did in fact support one.

Lo and behold, there were the names of John and myself enshrined on page two, as representing the voice of those who were happy to wear such a tax if it lead to cleaner air and less emissions. It is worthy of note that despite having my electronic text, the PP still managed to misquote us, and they carefully omitted all my objections to their alleged ‘facts’ in their article and to their rally.

So now I stand proudly alongside the likes of Mr Carp, who has been strangely silent the last two weeks. Perhaps he has fallen foul in an encounter with a groper, or has been removed from his habitat as an introduced and exotic species.

The next issue worthy of note is some further correspondence with our erstwhile local member, who is also Deputy Premier and leader of the State National party, Mr “72%” Andrew Stoner. You may remember that when we enrolled in this electorate, John received a welcome letter from him and I did not. I wrote and expressed my disappointment, and got a letter with a brief apology from his office.

In recent time, John and I wrote to Mr Stoner again, to express our disappointment at the reduction for the feed in tariff in the Solar Bonus Scheme. We receive the feed in tariff for our 6 solar panels, and signed an agreement with the government to this effect, and we felt retrospective legislation to remove this was a breach of contract, not to mention short sighted. Did you know that this scheme feeds around 365 MW of clean renewable energy into the NSW grid, and has the potential to remove the need for a new coal-fired power station if increased? We thought this was a great chance for the new government to really do something different and exciting, to help the state to reduce its reliance on coal, and to reward people who contribute to cleaner energy.

A lot of the objections to the government’s proposed action have in fact been from the North Coast, as there are many solar panel installers here, and many homes have taken advantage of this clean and renewable energy source. Our state members were shown together on TV, objecting to the deleterious effect on the people of the electorates here from Taree to Lismore. Except Mr Stoner, who was conspicuous by his absence. The solar industry is pretty big here, and employs a lot of people. The former state government’s incentive scheme has not only helped to keep our emissions down, but has employed many local people. In an area with the highest poverty rate in the state (yes, Oxley is officially the poorest electorate in NSW), this is a great feat. The letter was signed by myself and John.

The reply to our letter was pretty predictable. The last government’s debt was to blame, and that was that. No mention was made of the other issues we raised.

I could live with this, as this is what politicians do. When we lived in his electorate, Philip Ruddock used to send us screeds of photocopied information on Australia’s border policies when we objected to mandatory detention, so such tactics are nothing new.

BUT Mr Stoner (and he signed the letter even if he didn’t write it so the buck stops with him) wrote back to John and John only. Never mind we both signed as Reverend and joint ministers in our two positions here. Never mind that I actually wrote it and it was sent from my email address. Never mind that my name was listed first. In the reply, I had completely vanished.

Perhaps he? they? thought John as a man would be a more rational being to address. Perhaps in good Pauline fashion, Mr Stoner thought that in the home, the man is the head of the household and all information should be channelled through him.

Whatever he or the office staffers thought, I am deeply offended.

Mr Stoner, I find it unacceptable that you and your office persist in ignoring me and addressing all correspondence exclusively to my husband. If a letter is signed by both of us, I expect any response to be addressed to both of us. Whatever your own or the National Party views on women and their place in society are, I assure you I am not going to disappear into the CWA, a craft group or the kitchen. As more and more women like myself choose to live in places like Wauchope, it may be time to drag the National party into the 21st century, which you will find is an era that on the whole values women for their individuality, their skills, and their independent contributions to society.

If this is a religious thing, understand that the Uniting Church values, educates and ordains women into ministry and considers them equal to their male counterparts.

The earth is not flat, women are now educated, and we know that if we leave the domicile we will not fall off the edges. Yes, women belong in the house – but they also belong in parliament, churches, universities, law courts and management.

As it should be.

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