In 2002, when she was 10 years old, my friend SamLara Canin-Henkel wrote an open letter to the then Prime Minister, John Howard, which attracted widespread media coverage (including an appearance on the Today Show).
Now 16 years old, SamLara has written another letter to our Prime Minister, only this time it's the guy she would have voted for (had she been old enough) - she thought her "writing letters to the PM" days were over. Sadly, they're not.
Here's a copy of SamLara's letter to Prime Minister Rudd, which she wrote yesterday (and which deserves being published here and may well get her on Today Show again):
Dear Prime Minister,
I followed your campaign back in 2007 from Clunes, New South Wales. I got right into the Kevin ’07 vibe and wore your t-shirts with pride to school. I assisted my local member, Janelle Saffin, in her campaign and did scrutineering. I am a friend of Jenny Dowell, mayor of Lismore, and also helped her in her successful campaign earlier this year.
I am 16 years old. And I have your poster on my wall.
I was ecstatic when I got the opportunity to meet you in Bali and was incredibly proud to call myself Australian when you ratified the Kyoto Protocol. You featured in my parents’ documentary “The Burning Season” (which has just won an IF award) and every time I hear your speech I cannot help but smile. Your campaign poster claims “New Leadership” in large letters and I was excited by the promises you were making, especially in regards to Climate Change. I believed that new leadership had finally arrived.
About 10 minutes ago I was informed that you have committed to a 5-15% reduction of carbon emissions by 2020.
I am assuming, Mr Rudd, that you have bought land on the Moon and will be relocating there when the Earth can no longer sustain human life.
I will not go into the severe effects of climate change- you have advisors and Greenpeace and Bob Brown and other environmental organisations to pester you about that. What I will say is this: your campaign promised “New Leadership”. Your speeches promised hope. Your actions in Bali symbolised a new beginning for Australians. This emissions target is just not enough.
Your response will be predictable I’m sure... “We need to maintain solid economic growth during this financial crisis” or something along those lines.
Quite frankly, “economic growth” will mean nothing if the Earth’s temperate continues to increase, if the Great Barrier Reef continues to die and if carbon emissions continue to rise.
You claim “New Leadership” Mr Rudd but this is not new at all. There is nothing new or promising about this decision. It is old and conservative, something I would have expected from the previous government.
In fact, this kind of leadership is not leadership at all. You should be taking a lead on this issue, not waiting to see what the rest of the world does. Do not wait until you have to respond to a disaster. Take action to prevent it.
Although climate change has gone far and beyond what is comfortable to think about, you can at least do everything in your power to reduce the effects it will have on our planet.
In 2002, when I was 10 years old, I wrote a letter to Prime Minister John Howard demanding to know why we were sending troops to Iraq. I received wide press coverage including an interview on the “Today Show”. I really thought my ‘writing letters to the PM’ days were over.
It seems not.
Please Mr Rudd, don’t make me take your poster off my wall. Don’t make me sigh and change the channel when my Prime Minister comes on TV, like I did under the Howard Government.
Don’t make me lose the pride I have in our country for choosing you as our leader.
I hope that somehow, this letter makes it past your secretaries and ends up in your hands.
I’ll be seeing you in Copenhagen in 2009. Please Mr Rudd, don’t let planet Earth down. Don’t let the Australian people down.
Don’t let me down.
I don't think Kevin has responded yet, although he did say today at a National Press Club Q&A: "There is going to be, as there should be in a democracy, arguments from both sides about whether it has gone too far or whether it goes far enough. I accept that. I respect that."
I think the fact that I have received media releases today from industry groups like the Australian Trucking Association, applauding the Rudd Government's conservative target, leaves little doubt that it doesn't go far enough...
p.s. SamLara made the front page of The Northern Star on 17 December 2008