A letter to Senators Kroger, Madigan and McKenzie

My letter to the three Victorian Federal senators, Helen Kroger, John Madigan and Bridget McKenzie, who intend to vote against marriage equality

From: Michael Barnett <mikeybear69@gmail.com>
Date: 22 August 2012 02:13
Subject: A journey from your First Speech to Today
To: Senator Bridget McKenzie <senator.mckenzie@aph.gov.au>, Senator John Madigan <senator.madigan@aph.gov.au>, Senator Helen Kroger <senator.kroger@aph.gov.au>

August 22 2012

Dear Senators Kroger, Madigan and McKenzie,

Allow me to take each of you back to the day you stood before the Senate and gave your First Speech.  Please take a moment to reflect upon these sage words from your opening speeches, that you delivered to your fellow Senators and to the Australian people.

Senator Kroger,

You told us how your parents gave everything of themselves to make sure you had the best start in life:

“My mother and father did what it took to ensure that their children would have a fair go and be able to give life their very best shot. I have tried to say thank you by living my life in a manner that will consecrate their devotion and selflessness.”

It is clear that you understand what giving without expecting anything in return means.

You later related the wisdom of Thomas Moore:

“Family life is full of major and minor crises—the ups and downs of health … success and failure … is tied to places and events and histories. With all of these felt details, life etches itself into memory and personality. It’s difficult to imagine anything more nourishing to the soul.”

I can tell that you are a person who values families, with strong bonds that tie the people in them together.

Senator Madigan,

You shared with us the words of a great Australian leader, Ben Chifley:

“I try to think of the labour movement, not as putting an extra sixpence into somebody’s pocket, or making somebody Prime Minister or Premier, but as a movement bringing something better to the people, better standards of living, greater happiness to the mass of the people. We have a great objective – the light on the hill – which we aim to reach by working for the betterment of mankind not only here but anywhere we may give a helping hand. If it were not for that, the Labour movement would not be worth fighting for.”

and from this it is clear that you aspire to improving the lives of all Australians.

Senator McKenzie,

You opened your First Speech talking about individual freedoms and notions of equity:

“That we can all sit here today as democratically elected senators, arguing where the line is drawn between individual freedom and notions of equity, means we are truly, truly blessed.”

and later you described the strong sense of social justice that you inherited from your mother:

“The women in my family are strong, community minded, also local sporting heroes and all committed to education. My mother was a primary school teacher. Her commitment to social justice has flowed through to her children, none of whom can resist a good cause.”

Most poignantly though you told us how precious our youth are to society and how vital the social health of country communities is:

“Young people are a precious asset for our future, and our nation needs individuals who are prepared to contribute, who are engaged and who can think critically. … My own family’s involvement in local sporting clubs spans generations and sports. Participating in golf clubs, football, netball and surf-lifesaving is an integral part of what we do and what so many country families do, contributing to the physical and social health of their communities. It is an area that I look forward to supporting.”

Perhaps your strongest statement though is your closing sentence:

“My sincere hope is to contribute to this nation in a thoughtful, constructive and positive manner and to always advocate for regional Victoria.”

because this tells Australia that you genuinely care for the people you represent.

Senators McKenzie, Madigan and Kroger, your values are powerful and passionate.  They convey the sort of Australian values that mean so much to every citizen.

I ask you to reflect on these sentiments from your opening speeches and bear them in mind when you are asked to cast your vote on the issue of Marriage Equality.

Senator Kroger, think about your selflessness and giving others a fair go, like those that your parents gave you.

Senator Madigan, think about bringing something better to the people and giving them a greater happiness.  If the words of Ben Chifley are important to you then striving for the betterment of mankind can only come when you increase the happiness of those you represent.

Senator McKenzie, to you I place the most importance because of the opportunities you can give our young people in rural communities.  Youth suicide is a scourge that affects country towns the worst, and prejudice against same-sex attracted youth drives the rates of youth suicide to alarmingly high levels.  You can be a force for good and give the youth who are most precious to you a role model that will give them a better footing in life.  Tell them that their relationships are something to be proud of and I can assure you that you will have an amazingly positive impact on the health of all rural communities.  That would make you immensely proud and validated.  The father of my previous partner was mayor of the Shire of Murrundindi, a place close to your heart no doubt.  He supported and was proud of his son’s relationship with me.  Please understand that love strengthens families and brings communities together.

I ask you all, Senator McKenzie, Senator Kroger and Senator Madigan, to think about what you stood for when you delivered your First Speech and hold true to those values, of giving life your best shot, selflessness, bringing something better to the people, greater happiness, working for the betterment of mankind, commitment to social justice, good causes, the preciousness of our youth, the health of our country communities and of course, a fair go for all.

Thank you for your time.

Michael Barnett.

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