10 October 2012

A letter to Christopher Pyne

Dear Christopher Pyne,

On Monday night, I watched you on QandA. I watched because I'm a good middle class ABC fan, but really because Nilaja Sun was on the panel. She was sitting next to you; the one who didn't talk to you about Downton Abbey.

As she wasn't given much of a chance to contribute to the discussion, I think it would be terrific if you flew down to Melbourne and saw her performance of No Child at the Melbourne Festival. It has to be more fun than a night in Canberra.

Here's my review; you get a mention. 

As you're Shadow Minister for Education, I continue to hope that you would do everything in your considerable power to make our schools the best in the world and to discover and learn about the best ways to teach our children. This show is an amazing opportunity for you to see how great teachers can make a difference. As it's just over an hour, it's also far less tedious than reading a parliamentary committee report.

If you make it down (I'm sure the festival will give you a freebie), I can invite some fellow 40-somethings to have a drink with you after the show to discuss what you saw and you can explain to us how your party could make our schools better. I promise you that we will listen and will not behave like you did to Kate Ellis on QandA.  We will expect you to follow our example. 

You and I have a lot in common. You're exactly a year older than me (oh yes, I understand the Leo stubbon streak), we grew up in the same city, went to similar schools, went to the same university and, being from Adelaide, we share some friends. 

So, what astonishes me is how we see the world so differently. 

You were the first MP I was compelled to write a "you-have-insulted-me" letter to. It was in the late 90s, you spoke at Flinders University and said that you didn't think that "two men and a cockerspaniel" made a family. (It may have been a different breed of dog, but I'm assuming you went for the bonus cock joke.) I lived in your electorate and went along to listen to what you had to say about education and social justice; you insulted my friends and my beliefs. I didn't vote for you.

I don't understand how a very well educated 45-year-old thinks it's ok to be so consistently rude to your peers (or anyone) in public. I'm embarrassed when I watch you in parliament.  I think your QandA buddy-buddy-lets-talk-about-Downton-Abbey-because-a-fellow-elected-minister-is-speaking behaviour was a disgrace. I don't know people who behave like that.

I know that I have behaved like that to people: when I was an angry teenager who didn't know any better. I am still embarrassed by things I've said and done and I am so very sorry to anyone who I ever spoke over, laughed at, judged, bullied or was simply a rude bitch to. That kind of behaviour is mean and unacceptable.

In the meantime, Christopher, I also continue to hope that any child who sees you behave like an obnoxious bully in public asks why you're not sent to the naughty corner and knows that behaviour like that only ensures a lonely and friendless life.