Carl Katter, meet Barbra Streisand

August 16, 2015

On February 1 2013 Same Same published a story on Carl Katter’s political aspirations.  On August 10 2015 Crikey also published comments on Carl Katter’s political aspirations.  Crikey referred to the Same Same article:

Carl Katter has long flagged that he’s interested in a political career, saying he wanted to run before the 2013 election after joining the party in late 2012. We hope that preselection won’t tame Katter’s honest Twitter presence, including this exchange with Freedom Commissioner Tim Wilson in 2013 that was later deleted (and caught by SameSame):

The following snapshot of a Twitter exchange appeared in both articles:

Carl Katter Tim Wilson Twitter exchange

I run a public Facebook group called “Proud to be a Second-Class Australian“.  The aim of the group is to stimulate awareness of discrimination and to motivate people to campaign for LGBTIQ rights.  I post a significant amount of content as part of my activism.  Members can also post relevant content freely.  I like to ensure what I post is “warts and all”, in an effort to eliminate bias.

On August 10 I posted the aforementioned graphic to the Facebook group, including a link to the Crikey article.  I captioned the image “I said love, I said pet, I said princess.”  Shortly after posting the image I received a message from Carl Katter and then he blocked me.  Fair enough.  He’s entitled to do this.  He did this a couple of years ago too.  Some time in the middle he unblocked me.  I guess at that point he felt he wanted me back as a Facebook friend.

Here is what he sent me on both occasions:

Carl Katter Facebook messages

A little after receiving this message I got a warning on Facebook that I had breached their “community standards” and notification of a 7 day ban on posting to Facebook.  This means that someone had reported content I had posted on Facebook and Facebook had decided it was somehow inappropriate.  This is the message Facebook sent me:

Facebook message on Katter Twitter issue

I’m about 6 days through the 7 day ban:

Facebook 7 day posting ban

It’s been a frustrating week for me as this ban has severely limited my capacity to do my activism.  It’s been the busiest news week in 11 years on marriage equality.  It’s been the week in which I was the key player in breaking a story on a controversial reparative (“gay cure”) therapist coming to talk to a Melbourne Jewish child sexual abuse group.  It’s been the week one the biggest marriage equality rallies ever happened in Melbourne.  It’s been the week Carl Katter probably needed some good publicity in his election campaign.  It’s also been another week I’ve not needed more unnecessary distractions in my personal life.

So I ask the question why Carl Katter would not want me to post a picture that is already in the public domain, about comments he posted on Twitter two years ago.  Why would he block me on Facebook for doing this?  Why would someone concerned about Carl Katter’s reputation report a photo of a public Twitter conversation including him to Facebook that resulted in me copping a harsh 7-day posting ban?  I get no say in this outcome on Facebook.  I just have to cop it sweet.  I’ve mostly managed to work around it but it’s wasted my time and significantly diminished my capacity to fight for LGBTIQ equality during a particularly important week.

If Carl Katter is concerned about his image and if he wants to maximise his chances of winning the seat of Higgins, it certainly doesn’t bode well for him to piss off gay rights activists.

Why am I so harsh on him?  He’s abused me.  He’s abused my husband Gregory.  He’s abused other people in the LGBTIQ community.  If he is going to stand for public office he needs to stop abusing people.  Actually, he needs to stop abusing people irrespective of whether he is standing for public office.  But he is not going to get away with abusing people when he stands for public office.  Carl Katter needs to be accountable for his words.

Carl Katter, meet Barbra Streisand.

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A letter to Andrew Laming, MP for Bowman

August 8, 2015

From: Michael Barnett
Date: 8 August 2015 at 13:00
Subject: An urgent message about the mental health of youth in Bowman
To: Andrew Laming – MP for Bowman <andrew.laming.mp@aph.gov.au>

Dear Mr Laming,

I’m writing to you regarding the issue of mental health in young people in your electorate of Bowman.

In your first speech to Parliament in November 2004 you spoke of wanting to help young Australians make a difference about the issues important to them:

Lastly, I want to engage young Australians. Our young Australians out there still do not have the faith in this parliament that I would love to see. How do I convince those young Australians that this political process is one in which they can have faith? How can I convince them that the issues that they want to talk about are ones where we can really make a difference?

You also spoke about knowing your limitations, about drawing from but not being a slave to your lived experience, and realising that celebrating diversity is something you value more than enforcing your ideology on others:

I am grounded by the humility of my limited knowledge. I hope I am guided, but never coloured, by my life experiences. I tell my story not to hammer some ideological stake in the ground but to celebrate the diversity of experiences that are here. Different backgrounds add to the breadth of this parliament…

I refer you to a statement on mental health on your web site claiming:

75% of all mental illness presents in people aged under 25, that’s why I’m so pleased to announce Capalaba is one of 15 locations across Australia that will get a new Headspace centre.

A further such statement on your web site claims:

Mental health is a topic I take very seriously, and for those interested we’ve just announced a new Headspace facility for Capalaba where youth can get early intervention and treatment for drug, alcohol and mental health issues. This kind of facility is the key to prevention and supporting our young people long before they’re rolling into emergency. It’s a passionate topic for many, and the majority of us have been touched by mental health in some way. Let’s work together to come up solutions and constructive feedback so we can support our young people.

It is evident that you not only care about giving young people opportunities, but that you care deeply about their mental health and well-being.  I am confident most people would align with you on these concerns.

What strikes me as a little odd is that whilst you are passionate about these issues, you appear to be lacking the necessary degree of commitment to stand by them.

There is ample evidence that young people who are marginalised and discriminated against due to their sexual orientation or gender identity have poorer mental health outcomes than their peers:

Same-sex attracted Australians are more likely to experience below-average health outcomes including higher levels of depression, due to this prejudice and discrimination. The statistics are particularly alarming for younger and newly-identifying LGBTI people who have consistently higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, early school leaving, conflict with peers and parents and suicide ideation, all directly related to the discrimination and prejudice they experience.[v]

http://www.glhv.org.au/files/writing_themselves_in_again.pdf

Young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex who are denied hope, opportunity and the rewards of society are those who are most likely to be in need of the mental health services you have campaigned so passionately for.

You voted strongly against marriage equality in 2010 and 2012, and declared in 2011 that you are personally “opposed to SSM [same-sex marriage]” but “support legally-equivalent civil unions as an alternative“.

The masthead on your web site states:

andrew laming mp hope reward opportunity

andrew laming mp   member for bowman   hope|reward|opportunity

I understand you are presently surveying your electorate on the issue of marriage equality and of this you stateI pledge to vote according to your verdict.

You are registered as a medical practitioner Mr Laming and have worked as a GP.  You will no doubt be aware of how risk factors play out in the well-being of people’s lives.  I ask you to think hard about the implications of choosing to vote against marriage equality, knowing that maintaining the status quo is linked to poorer health outcomes.  I also ask you to consider that a vote against marriage equality will obliterate the hopes, opportunities and rewards for the same young people whose welfare you so passionately and genuinely care about.

Polling by Crosby-Textor, the go-to pollsters for the Liberal Party (the party that you are a member of) showed that in 2014 there was very strong support nationally for people aged 18-34 (female: 90%; male 81%).  In 2010 the News Ltd Same-Sex Marriage poll indicated 43% support in Bowman, 40% opposed and 17% indifferent.  That means 60% of Bowman are not opposed to marriage equality.

In 2004 you claimed that you wanted to empower young Australians to actively engage in politics and to speak out about the issues that are important to them.  In 2015 you are asking your electorate to tell you about marriage equality yet you are bypassing the credible polling that exists.  The young people of Australia and in Bowman want marriage equality very much.

You talk of hope, reward and opportunity.  You talk of wanting to reduce the plight of mental health issues in young people in Bowman.  You talk of wanting to give young Australians faith in their parliament.  You talk about wanting to see young people achieve what is important to them.  You talk of knowing your limitations and not hammering your ideology.  You talk of celebrating diversity.  Yet despite all this talk you are prepared to turn your back on it if the unscientific and clumsy polling that you are engaging in suggest you should not support marriage equality.

What exactly are your priorities Mr Laming?  Are they centred around the welfare of your electorate, or are they centred around your further reelection to office?  Because it strikes me that the people of Bowman are not getting the best representation you could give them if you continue to turn your back on what all the evidence is showing.

I leave you with the quote that you borrowed from Robert F Kennedy in your first speech and your closing paragraph.  Perhaps now would be a prudent time to contemplate them.

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. That ripple builds others. Those ripples – crossing each other from a million different centers of energy – build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and injustice.”
Senator Robert F. Kennedy

While there are no mighty walls to sweep down in Bowman, there are plenty of opportunities for ripples of hope—opportunities to enrich a beloved community, to preserve our Redland character and to provide choice and opportunity for those whose faith has put me here.

In the best interests of the young people of Bowman, their families, friends and communities, I urge you to vote for marriage equality.

Sincerely,
Michael Barnett.
Ashwood VIC


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