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The futility of writing letters to government departments

On 30 November 2009 I wrote the following letter to Anna Bligh:

Dear Anna Bligh

It's time the Queensland kangaroo killing industry was shut down before kangaroos become extinct. At present they are abundant and it's best they stay that way for the sake of this country's ecology. Kangaroos have always benefitted the environment (unlike humans who destroy it). Read The Canberra Environment and Sustainability Resource Centre report found at http://www.nokangaroomeat.org/ACT%20biodiversity%20report%20final%20copy.pdf

Conservation Icon, Steve Irwin had this to say about the lie of sustainable wildlife use:-

"As the horrific propaganda of sustainable use of native wildlife continues, and those people pushing it continue to attack me and threaten us, our world's precious wildlife is suffering as a result.

"Since when has killing animals saved a species? The farming, killing, skinning and eating of native animals is a rife and evil industry, which operates under the cloak of science and lies.

"Crocodile farmers claim that since they started farming and selling legal skins, meats and products, they have single-handedly saved crocodilian species from endangerment. This is the easiest lie to expose. In the countries that the croc farmers claim success, it's actually established protection laws and enforcement that protects these animals.

"Example: - Australian Crocodiles and American Alligators fully protected and policed in the 1970's. This is the truth of the Crocs and Gators recovery, protection by law!

"Now for the worst possible news - BUSHMEAT! As a result of established wildlife and
conservation organisations backing the sustainable use of wildlife and actually supporting the 'killing' of native wildlife, they have created a market. Third world nations now see examples of modern nations supporting killing, eating and wearing wildlife for money, so now they're doing it. The latest and most horrendous markets created are in Africa, South America and Asia where enforcement of laws is impossible and even though the animals may be protected, the policing agencies have neither the money or power to do anything. So mass wildlife slaughter takes place unchecked.

'Sustainable Use' of native wildlife in so-called modern nations like Australia and the U.S.A. has inadvertently created a multi-million dollar 'bushmeat' industry, where local people kill native wildlife for meat, skins and products. Please don't blame the local people; it's not their fault! They're simply hunting for much needed money. The greatest wildlife perpetrators of today's world are those behind the driving force of 'Sustainable Use.'

"How are the Tiger Farms in Taiwan and China helping to save Tigers in India, S E Asia or
Siberia? They are perpetuating the market in Tiger products, which is the single greatest reason for the endangerment of Tigers.

"How are the Bear Bile farms helping Bears in Asia? Endangered. How did Mink farms help Mink in Europe? Endangered. How do Tuna farms help Blue-fin Tuna? Critically Endangered.

"Since when has killing any animal saved it? If wildlife and conservation organisations continue to support 'Sustainable Use,' then 'BUSHMEAT' industries and global endangerments will continue until all the animals have gone.

"We in the so-called modern world must set the examples. This current example we've set - that eating, killing and wearing wildlife products is legal and 'sustainable' is obviously the
greatest disaster for today's wildlife. If we don't eliminate 'Sustainable Use' now it will be too late.

"If we can destroy the market, we'll destroy the industry. Historically the only reason spotted cats, like Leopards and Cheetahs are still found in the wild, is because of peer pressure. It became 'uncool' and controversial to wear spotted cat fur coats, so the market was destroyed and the industry suffered. Slowly, less and less Leopards and Cheetahs were being shot for their skins, and just as well or they would've been extinct 20 years ago.

"If we can all refuse to buy, eat or purchase native wildlife products and express our disgust in the industry, then every single person can help slow down this incredibly disastrous wildlife atrocity.

NEVER PURCHASE NATIVE WILDLIFE PRODUCTS!!"

As you know, Australia has the worst reputation in the world for wildlife extinction having driven 38% of its species extinct in a short 230 years, species that have been here for millions of years living harmoniously with the land. Since Australia is party to the Convention on Biodiversity which has as its aim to reduce biodiversity loss significantly by 2010, isn't it time we stopped the sustainable use lie and started protected our ecosystems instead? We are in the midst of the 6th Mass Extinction caused by one species - homo sapiens - so it is our responsibility to act now. That means governments who make policies and enforce them.

IT's time to stop crunching out the same old drivel that the kangaroo killing industry is an important industry. It is driving kangaroos to extinction, destroying the land, making people and their pets sick, putting a nail in the coffin of Australian tourist industry (worth $73 billion) and heaping shame on Australia. It's time to put it to rest forever.

More Australians are beginning to wake up to the 'sustainable use' lie so don't think you can continue to pull the wool over our eyes because you can't.

Sincerely,
Menkit Prince

ON 18 DECEMBER 2009 I RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING REPLY:-

Dear Mr/Ms Prince

Thank you for your further email of 30 November 2009 concerning animal welfare issues associated with commercial kangaroo harvesting. I have been requested to reply to you on the Premier's behalf.

The contents of your message have been noted.

This matter has been referred to the Honourable Tim Mulherin MP, Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland for consideration.

Again, thank you for contacting the Premier.

Margaret Klatt
Acting Director
Executive Correspondence

The contents of my letter representing many hours of labour have been noted? Is this your idea of democracy? It isn't mine. I get the feeling governments do whatever they want and virtually ignore the people. What is it going to take to really get them to pay attention to us?

A friend of mine wrote to the local department regarding illegal kangaroo shooting in her town. Correspondence follows.

Fran Bailey, Australian Parliament House, Donna Petrovich, Victorian Parliament

Dear Fran,

I know you have always been prompt to respond to any of my correspondence with you in the past, but this time I would like to bring to your MOST URGENT ATTENTION a matter that has been making me SO UPSET AND UNWELL FOR QUITE SOME TIME NOW, that I have had to visit my local doctor to be subscribed medication to help me to relax at night time and try to sleep. This is certainly not like my normal behavior Fran, as I am a positive thinker, a high achiever and a normally very happy go lucky type person, but as a result of what has been happening in my local area over the past two years, my general well being has changed dramatically.

On almost a weekly basis, if not, every 10 days, I hear and sometimes see hunters shooting from dark until the early hours of the morning. There are lots of gun shots on each of these nights, some close to my property and others a little further away in the distance. The hunters are in utes or four wheel drives and have very high powered, bright lights mounted on these vehicles. On several occasions I have called the police, however, although reported, I have never seen or heard a police siren or received a phone call back from the police to say that they have investigated the reason for my call. I assume the shooters are hunting for kangaroos and I demand to know why!

Kangaroos are a protected species Fran and we have lost so many of our precious native wildlife since the February 7 bushfires, I think it is absolutely disgusting that we allow shooting and hunting of any kind to continue. . Australia has the highest rate of extinction on the entire planet and we have lost 38% of our wildlife in the short time we have settled here! This is a disgusting reality Fran and WE MUST NOT TAKE THESE FIGURES LIGHTLY! BY ALLOWING PEOPLE TO CONTINUE TO BLAST AWAY AT OUR WILDLIFE, ESPECIALLY OUR KANGAROOS, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING!

TOO MANY POLITICIANS ARE SITTING ON THEIR HANDS RIGHT NOW OVER ANIMAL WELFARE ISSUES FRAN, FROM HUNTING OF KANGAROOS, TO ALLOWING THE JAPANESE TO CONTINUE WHALING !

So Fran, I am asking you to make a difference on this issue of hunting in the Yarra Valley. Fran you are always involved in so many issues around the valley and I can imagine you are a VERY compassionate person. So PLEASE FRAN, PLEASE DO YOUR PART IN STOPPING HUNTING IN THE YARRA VALLEY! OUR BELOVED KANGAROOS ARE A PROTECTED SPECIES !

I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START, BUT I AM WILLING TO WORK WITH YOU ON THIS FRAN AND THE DSE NEED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR ALLOWING THIS SHOOTING TO CONTINUE!

It always happens at night time and these poor nocturnal creatures do not stand a chance of survival against lights, guns and redneck hunters. This is simply not able to be policed out there, so heavy fines and jail terms need to apply and we must ADOPT A “DOB IN A HUNTER” POLICY!

I know I am not the only person upset by this nightly carnage, as I know other wildlife carer’s in the area, and they too are very saddened and sickened to hear and see these people murdering the very animals they are fighting to save. They are on stand by 24 hours a day to rescue, rehabilitate and release back into the wild, injured, burnt or orphaned animals, only to have them be hunted down and killed by low life moronic scum!

I know that I can hear and witness it on certain nights of the week, so what is happening in other parts of the valley that I cant hear or see! Kangaroos are being slaughtered everywhere!

I don’t know if you know this Fran, but I have seen footage of what goes on amongst these horrible people who kill the kangaroos. So many times they are under the influence of alcohol when they go out shooting and it often takes them several attempts to kill the poor darlings and when they get close to the injured or dying kanga, if there is a young joey in the pouch or at foot, they are ripped from the pouch and bashed against the bull bar until they are dead! These morons practice this form of killing whether they have been drinking or not Fran.

I am sorry to go on about this Fran, but you must be able to tell how passionate I am about this issue. I am particularly upset at the moment because I have heard at least 15 shots fired tonight since around 9.30pm. On two occasions in the past, I have got in my car (despite the protest from my husband) and gone to where I could see the lights darting around and hear the gun shots but unfortunately I haven’t been brave enough to approach these bastards as they are usually on land not far from my home, shooting.

I am going to sign off now Fran, as the shots are continuing and I am becoming more and more upset. I am very eager to hear your response.

Please do not hesitate to contact me either by email or telephone Fran.

Thank you in anticipation.

REPLY FROM DONNA PETROVICH'S SECRETARY:

From: Carmel.Clancy@parliament.vic.gov.au [mailto:Carmel.Clancy@parliament.vic.gov.au] On Behalf Of Donna.Petrovich@parliament.vic.gov.au
Sent: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 3:49 PM
Subject: Re: Kangaroo shooting

Dear Vicki,

Thank you for your email re the shooting of kangaroos.

If you could email me with your residential address I will send out to you some specific information regarding the shooting of kangaroos.

I look forward to your reply.

Carmel Clancy
Office of: Donna Petrovich
Member for Northern Victoria Region

84 Sydney Street, Kilmore 3764
Telephone; 03 57822011

Of course, no mail was sent to my friend ... not that it would do anything to ease her mind as long as the kangaroo shooting was continuing night after night. What is the result of this passionate letter? Absolutely NOTHING!!

If you have any creative ideas of how we can get through to these politicians, please share them with us by replying below ~ we would love to have some success for a change! In fact, we would like to have our democracy back because it sure appears that we don't have any.

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Comments

Menkit,

It may sound mean, but one way of not being just a voice in the wilderness is to go on the attack in a focused way. By exposing Anna Bligh to a breach of policy/law or else immoral conduct you have her attention or at least the media's attention on her.

You could start investigating by applying for a Freedom of Iformation request on Anna Bligh's trip in May 2009 to Russia to promote Kangarooo meat exports. It is also constructive to contact and network with like minded groups on this specific issue and gain an alliance to investigate the kangaroo meat export business specifically in Queensland.
SOURCE: http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,,25373853-3102,00.html

Networking options:
http://www.savethekangaroo.com/index.shtml
http://www.catcahelpanimals.org/KangarooSlaughterinAustralia.html
http://www.animalliberation.org.au/comkang.php
http://www.awpc.org.au/kangaroos/my_view.htm
http://www.kangarooslaughter.com/
http://www.hsus.org/hsi/confronting_cruelty/animal_cruelty_around_the_world/kangaroos_killed.html
http://archive.lee.greens.org.au/index.php/content/view/591/50/
http://www.canberraroos.com/

If the trade to Russia is stopped, the kangaroo industry becomes unviable. Read this:
http://www.meatinternational.com/news/australia-presses-russia-to-cancel-kangaroo-meat-imports-ban-id2064.html

I would also be questioning Greenpeace's support for slaughtering kangaroos too.
http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/news-071011-1.html

I also suggest you grab the major newspapers and obtain the names of the journalists that focus on environmental issues and contact them on this subject.

Try these two sites for exporters of kangaroo meat.
I suspect these are the main culprits.

Macro Meats
http://www.macromeats-gourmetgame.com.au/

Kangaroo Export Import International
http://www.australianexporters.net/companyID7734.htm

Hope this helps. It remains an issue I am continuing with.

Tiger Quoll
Snowy River 3885
Australia

Subject was "Creative approach" - JS

Dear Menkit,

I don’t know what history you have with Anna Bligh but if I were a politician (or anybody) receiving such a letter from a total stranger I would be reluctant to give it much credence at all.

It seems your letter is very highly charged with emotion, opinion (mostly Steve Irwin’s), rhetorical questions ((mostly Steve Irwin’s, that have little relevance) and some rather aggressive demands.

Perhaps if you adopted a more civil and respectful approach to recipients of your letters they may respond in kind.

Instead of demanding that they read reams of paper/reports etc that may not even be relevant perhaps you could suggest (politely) that they might read the document, and where the document is lengthy, make specific reference to relevant parts that support your cause and place a greater emphasise on factual information than emotion.

In relation to the letter from your friend Vicki it seems the whole issue is based on her assumption (as stated) the hunters are shooting kangaroos without any real evidence. There is no evidence provided that the hunters are shooting wildlife of any description only assumption. It is not stated if the shooters are on private property. Police sirens would do nothing to catch offenders in the act and if this is an area touched by the Feb 7th fires may not be appreciated by residents.

You do not clarify if your friend provided her mailing address to receive information. Both you and your friend need to appreciate that hunting of feral species or even native animals with a permit is not necessarily illegal, so crying wolf, to police or politicians based purely on assumption and irrational concerns about “….what is happening in other parts of the valley that I cant hear or see!” is unlikely to bring any change.

I am not surprised that this passionate letter achieved nothing. Democracy is rarely served by pandering to irrational, emotional, passionate wailings of minority activists.

My suggestion for a creative approach to “get through” to politicians would be to approach them in a more respectful, civil and polite manner with more factual and evidentiary argument than highly charged emotive, impassioned claims and accusations based on mere assumption and speculation.

I have to respectfully disagree with 'Hmmm'.

It seems to me that anyone who is not moved by the barabarity inflicted upon Australia's iconic native fauna is somewhat lacking in human compassion.

Indeed, if we did not feel emotion about such issues, many of us would not take the effort that Menkit and Vicki have gone to. Instead, we would go to the football, to the pub or shopping.

That Menkit and Vicki are emotionally affected is clearly evident. However their respective cases are also backed with logic and evidence.

It seems to me that you have not read Vicki's letter properly. If the activities of shooters after dark of which she complained were legal, then why couldn't the police have got back to her to put her mind somewhat at rest?

I think the evidence is conclusive that politicians will pay no heed whatsoever no matter how polite and unemotive communications with politicians are if those communications ask them to take a stand against powerful vested interests to defend the environment, the wildlife and the public interest.

I suggest that people see my own polite e-mails to Premier Anna Bligh and hundreds of other likeminded Queenslanders on the question of privatisation, referred to in my other comment and see how far that got us.

(Of course, I hasten to add, that I am not urging people not to be polite and courteous in their communications with politicians.)

From what I've experienced in writing to politicians for nearly a decade it was all a waste of effort.

Why is this?

It's because they are inundated with emails and letters and personal representations from numerous concerned persons still living in the past when politicians actually cared, and could cope.

These days, they don't. They can't. It's all too much for them. Pay-packet continuance depends of their maintaining the charade that they do, and so as they like the dollars they fraudulently mislead the public as standard fall-back policy. This treatment has become almost universal.

It's all futile nowadays - or nearly so. Local governance and state governance and national governance and world governance is in free-fall.

Admitting this is not easy at first but it's much easier when citizens finally realise the truth of what I'm saying.

Sad? Sure is.

Peter's experience with incommunicado from sitting politicians is a lesson.
No incentive nor law requires a sitting politician to re-prioritise a burden of demands and a personal wish list. Join the queue!

It's like getting a cat to walk on a lead. A cat is predisposed to do as it choses and most are friendly only when they want to be fed (read 're-elected' in the case of sitting politicians). For non-sitting politicians, same applies.

Political influence is one of displacing pet wish lists in favour of one's own priority issue. This is how the general public and lobbyists need to think before lobbying a politician.

One useful technique to achieve one-off support from a politician is to embarrass, expose policy inconsistency, or immorality in the target politician by that politician NOT endorsing one's argument. But realise that putting a polly into a corner will be like walking a cat. One off success may be gained, but a bridge will have been burned. The spectre of defamation action always looms too. Fun eh?

Think of a politician as a wanna be high paid corporate executive deprived for years by choosing a political career. Once power is finally achieved, a frustrated aristocrat is unleashed within. Nepoleonic tendencies execute while the sun shines, like desert frogs breeding in a few wet weeks between decades of drought.

Sad eh?
Long personal wish list are dusted off along with promised favours and new requests don't get a chance. No. it's not altogether futile, but lobby a politician on this basis and you will be more realistic.

Tiger Quoll
Snowy River 3885
Australia

This works with politicians and I heard it from a politician.
Publish a description of the damage. Link it to the politician responsible's name and put their picture up with it.
Most politicians are backbenchers and rely on keeping their heads down so that the majority of people don't get to link their names with their faces. They hope that, when people get to the polling booths, they will just vote ALP or Lib because they don't have any idea of who is who.

They dread billboards alongside roads with their faces on them and statements about what they failed to do or what they shouldn't have done, for instance being associated with an unpopular local development, or failing to stand up against it.

They don't like sites like candobetter.org printing their speeches in parliament with their photo. etc.

They also rely on people not knowing the areas they are responsible for. If they have no portfolio, then they are still responsible for how they vote in parliament and for whether or not they ask questions about sneaky deals or whether they try to combat erosion of rights etc. They are still responsible for what happens in their electorate. They must still be accountable. You can write to them and ask them what they did about matters you are concerned about when they were voted on etc. If your politician cannot show that they stood up to the government on this human rights issue, for instance, then you can publish, on candobetter.org, for instance, your letter to the politician asking about the matter, and then point to their poor response or even to their lack of response to your letter.

These people are paid a heck of a lot compared to most people and they should be representing us, not staying out of the way and just agreeing with everything the front benchers in parliament have to say. They should also be using the people in their electorates to help them stand up for the electorates.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
home page

I think the whole Westminster system is in failure mode.

The challenges of these times are just too much for it.

Totally agree.

"The office of a Westminster prime minister is often criticised for being too powerful[who?], as he or she effectively determines when "consensus" is reached in cabinet, cabinet members do not have much independence to actively disagree with government policy, even for productive reasons. A cabinet member may be forced to resign simply for opposing one aspect of a government's agenda, even though they agreed with the majority of other proposals. Westminster cabinets also have a tendency to be very large. As cabinet is the chief organ of power and influence in the government, members of parliament may actively lobby for a position in cabinet once their party is elected to power. The Prime Minister, who is also party leader, will have an active interest in promoting as many these members from his own party as possible.

Westminster governments usually do not have a very strong tradition of separation of powers, in practice. Though the head of state, be it governor-general, monarch, or president, will have nominal powers to "check" those of the prime minister, in practice these individuals are usually regarded as little more than figureheads who are not expected to actively intervene in day-to-day politics. It must be noted, however, that Prime ministers under any Westminster system do not have ample freedom to appoint a large variety of individuals, such as judges, cabinet ministers, and other senior bureaucrats."

Below the wikipedia author talks about how such power is balanced out by public opinion and coalitions in opposition. In Australia though, real public opinion is completely disorganised. It has no avenue for day to day expression. The mass media simply pretends to represent public opinion and thereby manipulates the public and the politicians (who rely on the media to get publicity for their party when it runs for elections). And, of course, we don't have multi-party oppositions, or even real oppositions. We have two branches of the same media-puppets, who take turns on stage.

"But it must also be remembered that prime ministers can usually do only as much as public opinion and the balance of party membership of parliament will let them do. And it is relatively rare that a prime minister will have a big enough majority to cancel opposition from smaller parties; in practice, government in most parliamentary systems is made up of coalitions, and prime ministers must keep the coalitions happy."

From Westminster System

Subject was "Response to JS January 11th," - JS

Response to JS January 11th, 2010 - Why shouldn't we show our emotion, when we write to politicians?

James, I read and understood Vicki’s letter perfectly well and it presents no evidence whatsoever to support her assumptive concern of kangaroos or wildlife being hunted, much less any barbarity occurring in her locality. Without any evidence it is therefore illogical to complain to politicians.

As to what action police did or did not take, this maybe a legitimate and logical reason to write to a State pollie, ombudsman or similar but is not a matter of Federal jurisdiction.

Feeling emotion can be an excellent motivator and displaying a reasonable degree of emotion to express an opinion can indeed be beneficial. Excessive emotions tend to impair good judgement, sometimes quite dramatically; you might ponder for a moment the root cause behind some vengeful crimes even violent ones like assault and murder as but one example of emotion ruling outcome. Allowing excessive emotion to control actions and dominate arguments rarely achieves desirable results (Vicki’s need for medication is a case in point) and frequently leads to long periods of lament in the aftermath.

Hard factual irrefutable evidence carries far more weight with politicians, as it does with most adults, than emotional rants ever would.

Thanks, Menkit, for having put on the record these very important and revealing correspondences with Queensland Labor Premier Anna Bligh, with Federal Liberal MHR Fran Bailey and with Victorian Liberal MLC Donna Petrovich.

As long as such correspondences are placed on the public record as you have done here, they need not be seen entirely as a waste of effort.

However, if such letters were sent only to you Member of Parliament and no-one else is able to learn of them, then, sadly the effort will most likely have been completely wasted. Such letters will have almost no impact on most MP's who are clearly glove puppets of corporate vested interests that fill their party's coffers and keep them in office.

The same Premier Anna Bligh has similarly ignored my correspondences with her dating back to 17 February 2009, when I simply asked that she reveal to the public any future plans to sell any assets. See, also, the form letter lifted from a previous speech that she used to respond to my letter in the article Privatisation - let the owners decide : an open letter to Anna Bligh" of 3 Jun 09. I have also seen a great deal of other evidence that the correspondences from hundreds of other Queenslanders representing the views of 79%-84% of Queenslanders opposed to the $15 billion fire sale are being treated no differently by Anna Bligh and other Government MP's.

If, instead, the correspondences with MP's and their unsatisfactory responses or their complete lack of responses were to be placed on the public record, then the process of holding these supposed 'representatives' to account and eventually having them replaced with proper representatives, can begin.

So, please, if you find that your carefully composed letter to your MP or to a Government Minister has been dealt with in a manner similar to Menkit's and Vicki's, then please share it with us so that we can share it with the wider public. (Conversely, if you are one of the very few, who is not a corporate lobbyist, who has had your correspondence on a contentious matter of public importance treated respectfully, please tell us also. We also believe that credit be given where it is due to our political representatives.)

Whilst I have peoples' attention, could I also urge people to sign my e-petition calling for the resignation of Anna Bligh's Government. Anna Bligh's treatment of Menkit's correspondence adds considerably to the strength of the case I have put in my article "Why Queenslanders must demand new state elections" of 8 Jan 10.