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Correct node title: An important message from the Prime Minister
Details below w/u.
Sent to each and every Australian household in February 2003 following an intensive media blitz with respected Channel 9 anchorman, Steve Liebman.

(Australian Coat of Arms)

Prime Minister
Canberra

Dear fellow Australian

I am writing to you because I believe you and your family should know more about some key issues affecting the security of our country and how we can all play a part in protecting our way of life.

It is a sad fact that since the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 in New York and Washington, and particularly since the terrorist atrocity in Bali when eighty-eight Australians were killed and many seriously injured, we live in a more dangerous world.

We have to take necessary steps to protect ourselves, but in doing so, we also need to strike the right balance between sensible precaution and unnecessary alarm.

We can do this best if we are all as well informed as possible about the initiatives being taken to protect our country and how everyone can play their part.

The National Security Campaign and this booklet

By now, you have probably seen or heard the public information campaign encouraging Australians to be alert but not alarmed, and to report suspicious activity to the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400.

This booklet gives you more information about the counter-terrorism measures the government has introduced. Importantly, it includes:

I encourage you and your family and friends to read the booklet and heed the experts' advice.

Protecting Australians

Australia has been at a heightened level of alert since 11 September 2001. However, it is important that we put the heightened level of alert in to perspective - we have strong national security coordination arrangements and our intelligence, law enforcement, defence and emergency services are well prepared to respond to the threat of terrorism.

The government has recently further upgraded Australia's counter-terrorism capacity, including creating specialist police counter-terrorism units, enacting new laws dealing with terrorism and significantly increasing Australian Defence Force's counter-terrorism capability.

We can all play a part

Our ability to respond to terrorism does not depend on governments alone. Time and time again a member of the public, who has noticed something unusual or suspicious in their neighbourhood or workplace and reported it to the police, has prevented a crime from being committed. We now need to take the same approach to terrorism and I ask all Australians to help.

It is not possible to give you a detailed list of everything that might be suspicious. As the experts tell us in the booklet, what amounts to suspicious or unusual activity often depends very much on the circumstances in which it takes place. I encourage you to be aware of what's going on around you and to use your judgement and common sense when something seems out of place. If it doesn't add up, all the National Security Hotline, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls to the Hotline will be taken seriously and followed up, and you can remain anonymous if you wish.

Even if the Hotline only receives one or two pieces of information that end up preventing something terrible happening, the Australian community will have made and important contribution to preventing terrorism.

Our community

Australia is a strong and vigorous democracy. We value our individual rights and also respect our obligations to other Australians because we know that only by doing so can our security, prosperity and freedom endure.

Australians respect and understand the many cultures and religions that make up our society. Now, more than ever, we must work together to make sure no religion or section of our community is made to feel a scapegoat because of the actions of a small number of fanatics.

The future

As a people we have traditionally engaged the world optimistically. We are great travellers, whether for work, education or pleasure. Young Australians in particular go overseas in large numbers and we receive many visitors from other countries to our shores. Our open, friendly nature makes us welcome guests and warm hosts. All of us want that to continue

Australians have every reason to be hopeful and optimistic about the future. We are a strong, free, compassionate society - together, we will look out for Australia and protect the way of life we value so highly

Yours sincerely
John Howard
(John Howard)

3 February 2003

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600


Kalon's aside:
I realise that I have attracted a lot of interest and indeed flak over the posting of this. I have not and WILL NOT post my opinion on this node - it is merely here as transcript of a mailout to each and every Australian. Being a huge task as it is, I thought it best to node for the ages as in one year, five years, a hundred years (!) this will be an important snapshot of the way we were in 2003. I am flattered by the attention it has brought, and am pleased to see thought-provoking and fair-minded discussion about this issue. There are lots of interesting softlinks to other nodes, satires, counterpoints and even objections to what I have noded here - but it is nothing other than a statement that deserves to be seen by all Australians and interested people, not for its content, but because it is a public announcement from the most influential man in Australia at the time, right or wrong.
Kalon's OTHER aside
This node had it's title changed from "...from the Prime Minister" - it's OFFICAL document title, to "...from the Prime Minister of Australia" (my emphasis). This was done without my consultation. While I do not really mind, it is still the title of the document. Like a proper book or production name (Think "Star Trek: The Next Generation", rather than "The Next Generation" and the whole Dr. Strangelove debacle) I do believe it has it's place as being country-ambivalent. I understand that OTHER countries have Prime Ministers, and OTHER Prime Ministers may indee make important announcements, but this is the way our country's leader chose to address us, not marginalising us to "look at me, I'm in Australia - a different place, ideology or CLASS of country". To complicate and record for posterity, I have included the dialogue about this node below. I do thank you for reading this far - you are a star for lasting so long!
2003.02.16 at 18:06 dem bones says re An important message from the Prime Minister: Probably "An important message from the Prime Minister of Australia" , then... - at this point the node had already been changed without my approval. I replied saying ti should be left "as is".
2003.02.16 at 21:24 dem bones says I put it in () for now but I'll talk to people smarter than me (not like it's a real big deal either way) - STILL changed, with my requests ignored, but dialogue at least entered in to. I asked the other noders to see what they thought...
2003.02.17 at 02:30 Sasha Gabba Hey! says It's fucking stupid. See my title edit request.
2003.02.17 at 03:32 Sasha Gabba Hey! says re An important message from the Prime Minister: I got it back. - I must have missed it, because it was back to "of Australia", WITHOUT ( )'s by the time I checked.
2003.02.17 at 03:57 dem bones says re An important message from the Prime Minister of Australia: If you could please make a note that the "official title" of the document didn't include the "of Australia" at the beginning of your writeup I think that will solve it. - I then asked for the title to be changed, as the "official" title is kind of integral to the whole node... am I right?
2003.02.17 at 04:57 Sasha Gabba Hey! says Well, after a big argument with dem bones and an inflamatory node title edit, this is the new title. fucking american dickheads.
2003.02.17 at 05:05 dem bones says re An important message from the Prime Minister of Australia: Yea, but we're not going to do that (my request for offical document status of node title). Please make a note at the top of your writeup if you feel the title misrepresents the document.
2003.02.17 at 05:06 dem bones says re An important message from the Prime Minister of Australia : I've discussed it with many people and we feel this is the best way to go on an international website. It's certainly not going to be a catastrophe either way but we've decided to go this way. This is based on many years of experience with such titling issues.
2003.02.17 at 05:06 dem bones says re An important message from the Prime Minister of Australia: And we imagine that a Prime Minister of another country may at some point issue an 'important message' ...
2003.02.17 at 10:28 thiyas says re the unrequested name change to the node formally known as An important message from the Prime Minister : Personally, I think it should stand without brackets and without 'of Australia'. In my (quiet) two years on this site, there appears to be a strong feeling that namespacing of nodes is bad for the interconnectedness of the database. I feel that adding 'of Australia' is namespacing, albeit of a slightly different form. Reasons I think the namespacing should be removed: (*)More potential readers (soft link surfers) are likely if it does not include an explicit country name; (*)More chance of collision (ie some ::other:: PM having an important message), which we would want to read (Generality in node titles is good for the database!); (*)It ::is:: the title of the letter. Cheers. re nuking and recreating, I think that is a noble but ultimately useless action. If the powers that be changed it once, they can change it again. (I guess I am also wary of losing my best node :-)
So there you go. I still think it will be more "proper" without the "of Australia", in parentheses or not, but I am not going to push. Others may think slightly differently, but I do think the proper title ala ST:TNG and Dr Strangelove holds true here - I can't help it if I live in a fucked country!

An important message, not from the Prime Minister

Dear fellow Australian,

I am writing to you because I believe you and your family should know more about some key issues affecting the security of our country and how we can all play a part in protecting our way of life.

Australia is a strong and vigorous democracy. We value our individual rights and we respect our obligations to other Australians because we know that only by doing so can our security, prosperity and freedom endure.

In response to the increased threat of terrorist attack, my Government has made a number of important policy decisions. I am sure you will share our conviction that, at last, we have found a way for Australia to make a significant contribution to the effort to bring peace to our troubled world.

Here is how we aim to fight terrorism, at home and abroad.

We will not invade other countries.

We were almost sucked in by George Bush's rhetoric about the "coalition of the willing", but we realised, just in time, that invading another country and slaughtering its civilians is not the best way to sort out our differences with its leaders, and is certainly no way to minimise the threat of terrorism at home.

We do not trust Saddam Hussein, but we admit that our use of the term "appeasement" amounted to a ham-fisted attempt to connect him, in your mind, with Hitler and the rise of the Third Reich. The two situations could hardly be more different, and although we have no respect for Saddam, we will resolutely refuse to use force against him unless it is in defence of ourselves or another country attacked by him. That was our approach when he invaded Kuwait; it remains our approach.

If we were to invade Iraq, the precedent would be compelling: where would we strike next? The Middle East? Zimbabwe? China? Northern Ireland? Libya? North Korea? No, we have decided that an increasingly bellicose Australia would hardly encourage other nations to reach peaceful solutions to their problems.

We will not be slavishly following the US.

America is a great and powerful friend, and we value that relationship highly. But we can see how the arrogance of US foreign policy has often brought disastrous consequences, and we can understand why America is regarded with deep suspicion in many parts of the world.

So we will continue to be friends with America but, like true friends, we will not be afraid to disagree, nor to act independently when that seems right for us.

We want Australians to become famous as humanitarian peacekeepers.

My Government has decided to shift the emphasis of the defence budget away from combat capability. We will maintain our capacity to defend ourselves, of course, and we will keep sharpening our anti-terrorist skills. But the best way to avoid becoming a terrorist target is to resist involvement in military conflicts that do not concern us. Instead, we intend to become world leaders in the development of peacekeeping strategies, including the provision of medical care, food and housing for the civilian victims of war - especially children.

We want the world community to look to Australia not as a potential military ally or enemy, but as a beacon of sanity, compassion and practical help for those whose lives have been ravaged by war and terrorism.

We want to rebuild a society based on tolerance, compassion and fairness.

I am pleased to announce a new deal for refugees. Existing detention centres will be replaced by well-run camps where all refugees - legitimate and otherwise - will be treated with respect and care. No children will be imprisoned. (How embarrassing even to have to say that!) Applications for residency will be processed as quickly as humanly possible: where there is no reliable information about the status of an asylum seeker, that person will be given the benefit of the doubt. We will make some mistakes, but the risk to our security will be minuscule when compared to the previous risks to our cultural integrity.

We will not become a soft touch, but we will restore our self-respect by treating refugees and their children as we would want us and our children to be treated on a foreign shore.

We can all play a part.

It is time to stand up for the values that have made Australia great. If you hear someone condemning all Muslims, be alarmed. If people call for tougher treatment of "illegals", explain the need for compassion towards the world's 25 million refugees. If you suspect someone of bigotry, racism or religious intolerance, confront them. Do not be afraid to occupy the moral high ground. Be alert to opportunities to speak up for virtue. Be kind to strangers.

I would be proud to be the leader of a country like that.

Yours sincerely,

Not the Prime Minister


This arrived in my inbox this week (it originally appeared in The Age), and is by Hugh Mackay. It was written in response to An important message from the Prime Minister, which was sent to every Australian household in February 2003.

Hugh Mackay is an author and social researcher.

Yes, I realise this is cut and paste, but it succinctly captures a lot of the feeling and public opinion at the moment in Australia.

And this is how you can send an important message right back at him!

I found this little piece caught in my junk mail filter this morning, forwarded at me from a few different sources. Perhaps something for all fellow Australian noders to consider...

Friends,

As you are probably aware, over the next fortnight the Federal Government is sending a mailout to every household in Australia. In this pack is a letter from our illustrious Prime Minister, a booklet on how to help the government "fight terrorism" and a fridge magnet (!)

Today, Brisbane's Lord Mayor, Jim Soorley, made the eminently sensible suggestion that Australians who did not support the Howard government's backing of America's war should simply return the package to sender.

I, for one, think it's a fantastic opportunity to show Mr Howard that not all Australians think the way he does. If you agree as well, I urge you to:

1: Watch out for the package when it arrives, mark it "Return to Sender" and drop it in the nearest mailbox.

2: Please forward this e-mail to as many people as you think might be interested in joining this protest. Mr Howard's mailout is already on its way to practically every Australian - but e-mail can still beat it!

Please do not delay.

Now, isn't that a quaint little idea?

You were just going to read the pack, laugh at it, and throw it out anyway. Why not do something "constructive" with it instead?


Sasha: All well; the more that think to do it, the better! You're not Lord Mayor in Brisbane because you have taste; they'd probably make you drink XXXX. Savages.

2003.2.6@23:49 Zerotime says Oh, I just want the magnet. Apparently, it can detect evil at ten metres!

Fifteen million dollars (Aust.) is roughly the cost required to produce these booklets. $15,000,000.00. You'd think that the money might be spent on a better option for Australia's defence against terrorism. Sorry, I forgot to mention that you don't only receive the booklet, but also a fridge magnet. Unfortunately these don't have any useful information such as "Duck and cover in the event of a terrorist attack", only a number to ring if you see anything 'suspicious'. Sound familiar? Goodbye 2003, hello 1984.

The problem is, this 'information' for the Australian public isn't just another case of a balls-up for the Australian Political System, it's a fully fledged scare tactic to convince us that we're living in a world that isn't safe anymore. While undoubtedly the world has changed since the September Eleven, and more recently the Bali bombing attacks, there is no need to feel that we most report in to the government when we see something questionable. A rational person would phone the police or some equivalent if they thought they might be endangered - a 'National Security Hotline' is a laughable prop in the ineffectual War On Terror. At least it would be laughable if it wasn't fucking serious.

So when you receive this in the mail, write in large letters: "return to sender". Just don't let your neighbours see you doing it.
Xenex: Rats. And I thought I was being original. So how come he's the Lord Mayor of Brisbane while I'm still writing for E2!?

Update 11/02/2003: It didn't come in an envelope, rather a plastic wrapped package, so it's difficult to pull the 'return to sender' gag. I put the whole kit 'n' caboodle into a brown envelope, with a piece of paper saying:

"Mr. Howard

Stuff it up your arse."


Hopefully that gets the message across.

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