Occasionally I like to entertain myself by writing to members of Parliament. During elections this can even extend to the other candidates. It amuses me to ask totally inappropriate questions, such as “what is your policy on xyz?” Sometimes I go crazy and just ask “what are your key policies?” At least, I assume they are inappropriate questions based on the total lack of response I typically receive.
Today I stumbled across the following speech by Andrew Laming, member for Bowman in Queensland:
I’m a huge fan of giving praise where it is due, and this is one of those instances where I felt it needed to be given. There are two issues within the home birth debate in Australia; the first is the home birth itself, and the second is women’s rights. Depending on how you view the debate, there is also the third issue of infant rights. With approximately 800 Australian women planning a home birth in any given year, this is not a significantly large demographic. It is easy to ignore such a small voting population. It is also easy to allow women’s rights to slide when there is a significant political motivation for fear and misinformation in certain lobbyist sections.
Laming stood up here and presented a researched, carefully considered argument in support of this minority group. He said what women are unable to stand before Parliament and say ourselves. It was reassuring to see a member for Parliament actually plugged in to reality. Also slightly alarming that the improbable has happened, but mostly reassuring.
I decided to write to Laming to express my appreciation for this speech, and to express my hope that his support for this topic has not slipped. And then something amazing happened – he wrote back. Immediately. He even thanked me for my email. Wow! Not only that, but he must have actually read my email because he commented on what I had written and even got my name right. I’ve had employers who can’t manage that.
This is massively outside my sphere of previous experience. I’m not used to members of Federal Parliament actually acknowledging my existence unless they want to hand me a newsletter at a supermarket or train station. I’ve confronted my own member at the train station and asked why he never responds to my emails, only to be presented with the world’s worst imitation of a charming smile and the assurance that of course he would have replied before he turned away and introduced himself to someone else. Douchebag.
Anyway, back to Laming. There is a politician in this country who is alive. He listens to voters. He takes things on board, and provides feedback of his own. He isn’t even in the Greens party (they’re normally the only ones who will talk to me). I wonder if there is a way to spread this good behaviour within the rest of Federal Parliament. Perhaps I will experiment with this tomorrow by sending an email to Gai Brodtmann. Apparently she’s committed to being a strong voice for Canberra; lets see if she can also type a reply.