Open Letter to the Prime Minister


Dear Prime Minister John Howard

I write to you as the father of five sons and a daughter  – all now mature, intelligent and hardworking Australian citizens  – and as grandfather of 11 more Australians. I also mention that I served in the Royal Australian Navy as a destroyer navigator and as a Fleet Air Arm pilot, from 1939 to 1950.

These, sir, are my credentials as an Australian who, until recently, was proud of his country, proud of the men and women who led it, proud of its fight against our powerful enemies in World War II to preserve our national values of decency and fairness.

It has been my privilege to write about generations of past Australians (an official history of Qantas and an official history of our railways in New South Wales) whose achievements helped make Australia the internationally admired country that your Government is in the process of destroying.

I write also on behalf of my wife. Her father, Colin Bingham, was a great Australian and war correspondent in World War II, and later editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. My mother, Nancy Gunn (serving in the WAAF), was the only woman in World War II allowed in the Central War Room of General Douglas MacArthur.

Do you get the picture, sir? We served our country, loved it, hoped for its future. You sir, in just a few years, have changed all this. You govern by provoking fear and uncertainty, by manipulation, by downright deceit.

Let me state succinctly how my wife and I view our remaining years in an Australia polluted and threatened by your actions. (I am now 80; my wife is 73.)

Whatever laws you may pass to serve your power-preserving ends we will, both of us, be outspoken in public and in private, in our efforts to bring your actions as a Government into disrepute. We shall be outspoken in our deep opposition to Australia’s involvement in Iraq and the ongoing violence this has provoked. We will emphasise the deceitful intent of your industrial relations legislation, the obscenity of your actions in the children overboard matter and your abandonment of David Hicks, Australian citizen. We shall mock and lament your cowardly and submissive attitude to President George Bush and his devious advisers.

If these are acts of sedition, then so be it. To be imprisoned for such sedition would be an honour.

You diminish us all by your cold immorality.

We are comforted by the fact that we are not alone in our views.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.