For inscrutable reasons, the administration of my country, Australia, has decided to send troops to Iraq.
While millions of Australians attend anti-war demonstrations, still others remain at home. Perhaps the dread of grubby zealots with inappropriate piercings has kept countless cowards away from marches.
I don’t especially mind the noise, pamphlets or foul patchouli nimbus they produce. While I do take exception to specific hippie practises such as chanting, I absolutely affirm both the inalienable right to protest and freely wear unpleasant essential oils.
I have begun to suspect that my Government doesn’t share my respect for public demonstration nor cares to weave such views into policy. So, chanting and poor fashion sense aside, I cannot march because my intended audience has tuned out.
After the Prime Minister’s comments that reduced the monumental expression of sorrow by millions of Australians to the collective noun ‘mob’ –I just can’t be arsed showing up.
Whether one consents to the war on a pintsize despot or not, it is difficult to overlook the fact of an administration who has little respect for public opinion . Even those crisply laundered Christians, upright Professionals and picture perfect families in attendance consist in a ‘mob’.
My Auntie Margaret would rather petit-point than protest. Nonetheless she downed embroidery to march on a surface other than the Airofit Zero Stress Walking Machine. She wasn’t very happy about her chosen Prime Minister identifying her as part of a ‘mob’.
If Auntie Margaret can be construed as rabble then I, her least reputable niece, bear zero chance of maintaining respectability on foot.
So I choose to arm myself in the War Against Logic with my computer. I have been writing letters and I have been sending emails.
The Australian Prime Minister John Howard has a < a h ref = http://www.pm.gov.au/your_feedback/feedback.htm >page inviting email which I cheerfully used. (As you are no doubt aware < a href = http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/>Gee Dubya has one too.) I received an acknowledgement offering the half-promise 'you may receive a reply’. I had received no further riposte to my numbered questions.
As a charitable constituent, I conceded that the PM might be preoccupied packing his jammies for trysts at Camp David. So I resumed a rather one sided correspondence with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer.
Again, I posed questions, rather than opinions. I used the email address supplied to me on the Australian Parliament House website. Enquiry revealed that emails to this address do not reach Mr Downer unless he is in his electorate. ‘Send it to this other address if you like’ offered the representative, ‘but you could always call Stirling and attempt to track it down’. I did both.
Mr Downer’s Ministry did not acknowledge my email. His electoral office did not return my phone calls.
I did receive one acknowledgement that read “Your message To: Downer, Alexander (MP) was deleted without being read”.
I responded AGAIN asking why my email was deleted. From one Pam Mayer came the reply ‘Mr Downer does not reply by email and will only give a written reply if a postal address is supplied.’ I answered : How does Mr Downer determine if a postal address is included in an email if it is deleted without being read?’.
Do I need t tell you that this email was also Deleted Without Being Read?
I began to take Pam’s responses personally and thought it best we resolve the confusion. I managed to catch her on March 26. She informed that emails to the Minister were deleted if they were deemed ‘unsuitable’. I asked after that office’s feedback policy. ‘We kind of play it by ear’. I repeated the statement as I committed it to keyboard, thinking that I ought to record such strange advice. ‘I don’t want to talk to you!’ she insisted and terminated the call.
I called again, and Pam screeched ‘I DON’T wish to TALK WITH YOU.’ Trying for a hat-trick, I dialled and was rewarded with another hang up
Multiple calls to the Ministry resulted in a response just received. I am sad to convey that Alexander addressed none of my questions. I was, however, thanked for my ‘views’ which were ‘noted’.
Although, I did not HAVE any views, JUST QUESTIONS. Which were not, incidentally, promptly nor adequately addressed.
Hippies, Auntie Margaret and myself have tried different modes of inquiry and failed to have our distinct voices heard.
By email, telephone or on foot, it seems, we can not be heard above the noise of Federal self-congratulation. Whether query or protest, any sound made is just part of the mob’s din.