I give up

17 Aug

68846506_363205964366909_8811500066331164672_nOk so what I don’t love about this image is that it suggests all those other things aren’t important, but really it does rather sum up where this whole living on earth thing is heading. Twenty-two Senators in and I’m pulling the plug on my letter writing campaign. So far I managed to garner one mildly engaged response from a staffer but the rest of them are silent. I’m pulling the plug  because I do not think trying to appeal to politicians as people is going to work. I do not think scaring people is going to work. I’ve been following @climateben on Twitter with interest. His posts scare the bejeezus out of me but I don’t think they are working for the people who need to be activated. I do not think appealing to people’s sense of justice and safety for their children and grandchildren is going to work. I do not think the leaders of Pacific nations driven to tears by the literal, physical disappearance of their countries is going to work. I honestly do not know what it will take to move these people, or the people who vote for them. I give up. I’m just going to plant some fucking trees with my kid and hope for the best, knowing we will end up with the worst.

David Fawcett’s media guy responds, the economy is more important

5 Aug

Dear XX,

Thank you for your email regarding the Government’s environmental policies.

The Federal Liberal Government will continue its strong record of taking real, practical and meaningful action that gets environmental results. We are on track to beat our 2020 Kyoto emissions target by 294 million tonnes. Through the Emissions Reduction Fund, we’re supporting practical emissions reduction projects while responsibly managing the economic implications.

Not only are we having a significantly higher impact than alternate approaches but we are doing it at a lower cost. We have secured more than 190 million tonnes of emissions reductions at a low average cost of less than $12 per tonne. In comparison, Labor’s Carbon Tax reduced emissions by less than 12 million tonnes at a cost of $15.4 billion – around $1,300 per tonne.

The re-elected Morrison Government’s environmental commitments include:

  • Further $2 billion for the Climate Solutions Fund, to build on the success of the Emissions Reduction Fund.
  • We will make renewable energy 23.5% of Australia’s electricity supply by 2020, and reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • A $100 million commitment in the 2019-20 Budget to a new Environment Restoration Fund.
  • $30 million will be invested in a pilot Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Fund to provide incentives to farmers to boost biodiversity and reduce emissions.
  • Reliable renewable energy through projects such as Snowy 2.0, the world’s largest pumped hydro renewable power station, and a second interconnector to bring renewable power from Tasmania to the mainland.
  • Major projects to protect waterways, building on the $9 million we have already provided under Landcare for waterways throughout Australia, including to the River Torrens.
  • The Communities Environment Program will provide a total of $50 million in grants to businesses and community organisations.
  • Our $5 million Solar Communities Program, providing up to $12,500 for small-scale solar energy generation and storage projects.

Since being elected to Government in 2013, we have delivered:

  • The $1 billion National Landcare Program which helps restore wetlands, maintain national parks and improve soil health across Australia.
  • The $2 billion Emissions Reduction Fund, which got Australia back on track to reach its international targets for carbon emission reduction and led to an overachievement on our commitment under the Kyoto Protocol, something few countries have done.
  • The Reef 2050 Plan – endorsed by the World Heritage Committee – put an end to all capital dredge spoil disposal in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Morrison Government is investing more than $1.2 billion to ensure the health of the reef
  • Since 2014, the Government has invested more than $425 million on over 1,300 projects supporting threatened species, including the creation of wildlife sanctuaries and the population management of feral cats.

An overview of this information can be found via www.liberal.org.au/our-plan/environment.

Australia will continue to play our part in meeting the global challenge of climate change in the 21st century. Our Government will ensure we honour our commitment without undermining our economy. The only way we can afford to take real action for our climate is to have a strong economy. It doesn’t take much research to identify that the nations with weak economies, which struggle to provide high quality essential services such as health and education, are less able to protect their environment. When it comes to balancing the economy and environment, we are taking real action based on sensible stewardship, not slogans or activism.

We don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy. Our approach is to take care of our environment but also take responsibility to ensure we acknowledge, understand and manage the economic consequences of the decisions we make to address climate change. Our actions and plans build on our strong traditions and the record of the Coalition’s achievement over generations to protect, preserve and value our environment.

Thank you once again for contacting our office to raise your query. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you need any further assistance in this matter, or if you have any other queries that are Federal in nature.

Kind Regards,

James McGrath responds, “But is it relevant to Queensland?”

1 Aug

Thank you for this advice. My name is XXXX and my address is XXXX and my mobile number is XXXX. The climate emergency is a matter of direct relevance to Queensland and I look forward to hearing from you about what you yourself, as a person of significant power and influence, are doing to ensure an immediate and effective response to the need for urgent action to achieve zero carbon emissions and dramatically increase reforestation and regeneration efforts.

On 2019-08-01 16:42, McGrath, James (Senator) wrote:

Thank you for your email.

As my office receives significant volumes of reference material and
correspondence, it is very difficult for me to personally respond to
all communications on an individual basis.

Notwithstanding these demands, I endeavour to ensure that I am kept
informed on all important matters.

However, to assist my staff in managing the incoming information and
correspondence, it would be appreciated if you could take into account
the following protocols.

· Due to the fact that I am a Senator for the State of Queensland,
higher priority will be given to matters of relevance to the State of
Queensland. If your correspondence is of more significance to another
State or Territory, then it is important that your inquiry and
reference material be directed to a Senator of that State or

· Where there is a volume of repetitive emails, correspondence on a
general subject, or emails sent as part of an automated campaign, the
contents will be noted by me, but individual replies will not be
prepared or transmitted.

· Where there is correspondence from individual constituents on
matters of importance to them, the contents of the correspondence will
be brought to my attention.

Also, please check that your e-mail has your full name, address,
contact number (preferably a mobile number), and an e-mail address. My
staff and I will always prioritise requests where this information is

I would like to thank you for taking the time to make contact with my
office. The contents of all correspondence are respectfully noted.

Yours sincerely,


Susan McDonald responds “But is it relevant to Queensland?”

1 Aug

Thank you for this advice. My name is XXXX and my address is XXXX. The climate emergency is a matter of direct relevance to Queensland and I look forward to hearing from you about what you yourself, as a person of significant power and influence, are doing to ensure an immediate and effective response to the need for urgent action to achieve zero carbon emissions and dramatically increase reforestation and regeneration efforts.

On 2019-08-01 06:29, McDonald, Susan (Senator) wrote:

Thank you for your email.

Your views, concerns and enquiries are important to me and I thank you
for taking the time to write to me.

I receive a large number of emails each day and this is how I manage


1.       Due to the fact that I am a Senator for the State of
Queensland, higher priority will be given to matters of relevance to
the State of Queensland. If your correspondence is of more
significance to another State or Territory, then it is important that
your inquiry and reference material be directed to a Senator of that
State or Territory.

2.    If you are a resident of Queensland and you have a general
enquiry or an enquiry relating to a specific issue, I will endeavour
to provide you with a response shortly.  Please be aware the time it
takes my office to respond is dependent on not only my parliamentary
and electorate commitments, but also may be impacted by the time it
takes relevant Ministers to provide information on your enquiry.  If
your matter becomes urgent, and you have not yet received a response,
please contact my office as soon as possible.


3.    If your email is part of an automated mass-email campaign I
will certainly note your views however, I will not respond directly.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. The contents of all
correspondence are respectfully noted.

Kind regards,


LNP Senator for Queensland

Mathias Cormann responds, climate emergency not his problem

30 Jul

To recap my last post I am currently writing to every government senator to ask them what they, they personally as people with significant political power and influence, are doing to address the climate emergency. Mathias Cormann, it would seem, doesn’t see himself as having any responsibility.




Correspondence to the Minister for Finance

Thank you for your email of 29 July 2019 to the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, concerning the Climate Change.

As the issues raised in your correspondence fall within the responsibilities of the Minister for the Environment, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, your correspondence has been referred to the Department of Environment and Energy for consideration.

Yours sincerely

What are you doing?

22 Jul


It’s a simple enough question, right? Me, I’m just trying to balance a demanding full time job with being a passable parent to my three kids and trying to come to terms with the fact that we’re heading into the last thirty years of human existence without taking myself to the nearest city square and self immolating. Short of that, I feel utterly utterly powerless to do anything at all. Which is not to say I don’t do anything. I’ve been dutifully buying ethically, cutting waste, and choosing renewable energy for years now. It’s not enough. I’ve been trudging the streets at interminable climate change marches for years too. That’s not enough either. It’s not enough because without the political will of the world’s leaders, whatever I do is a drop in the seething overheated ocean. So as of today I’m setting myself a mission to write to every single political leader I can think of and ask them the simple question, “What are you doing?” Because in twenty years time when my kids are starving, or maimed in some ghastly war over access to water or arable land or solar panels, and they ask “What did you do?” I want to have an answer. It won’t be enough but at least it won’t be “Nothing”. Let’s see whether we can say the same for these people:

Day One

Senator the Hon Scott Ryan, President of the Senate

Senator Eric Abetz

Senator Alex Antic

Senator Wendy Askew

Senator Cory Bernadi

Senator Simon Birmingham

Day Two

Senator Andrew Bragg

Senator Slade Brockman

Senator the Hon Mathew Canavan

Day Three

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Job, Skills, Small and Family Business

Day Four

Senator Claire Chandler

Day Five

Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Youth and Sport

Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance

Day Six

Senator Perin Davey

Senator the Hon Jonathon Duniam

Day Seven

Senator the Hon David Fawcett, Chair of Environment and Communications Legislation Committee

Day Eight

Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Minister for International Development and the Pacific

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Senator Hollie Hughes

Day Nine

Senator Susan McDonald

Senator the Hon James McGrath

Day Ten

Senator James Paterson

What are you doing?

Dear X

If there is something that your government can do to stop you and I, our family and our friends, and all human life on the planet, from dying a brutal miserable death in 30 years time, please can you explain to me and to my children why on earth you are not doing it? What justification can you have for not doing everything humanly possible to stop this happening? What steps are you taking to support global action on the climate emergency? I need to know. My children need to know.

Ten Things I Loved About Bandito, and lots of other feels

16 Dec


(As you might expect, this TØP post has some cutting triggers in it)

Take my hand and I’ll show you what was and will be

My relationship to music has always been intrinsically gluttonous. I find something new that I love, and I listen to it so intensely, so repeatedly, that it is absorbed into my bloodstream until it hits toxic levels. Of course, one of things that makes music such a compelling creative form is the way a single musical phrase can hook itself into some part of your emotional landscape and linger there. But when I’m in an overdose phase, musical phrases and lyrical lines pulse through my head not in a slightly annoying ear-worm way but overwhelmingly, exhaustingly. Music was an integral part of the process of becoming unwell with endogenous depression when I was seventeen – the tendency to over-connect that I called empathy was really rather more pathological than that. People look back on Joy Division and The Smiths these days and laugh at the earnestness of it all but when they are literally the soundtrack to you carving lines into your wrists locked in a country train toilet with your Walkman and a shiny new razor blade well, as Morrissey would have said, that joke isn’t funny.

Connecting to music in such a visceral way has for me always, inevitably, been about an attraction to that final loss of boundaries. By the time I finally came to study Keats in second year at university, I already had a sharply honed sense of the way in which all that is sublime tends towards death, the way infinite death inheres in finite beauty. Because of this, as I’ve grown older, I’ve become a much more careful music user. Like those rare people who manage to sustain a forty-year heroin addiction without letting it kill them, I’ve learned how to use music carefully, to know when to stop, and what to avoid when.

Recently, however, I’ve been overdosing on my kid’s Twenty-One Pilots CDs and then completely maxxed it out by going to see them perform in Melbourne on December 13. They owe a lineage in both sound and sensibility to many of those eighties bands and they take me straight back to where I was when I was 17. I’ve reached a point of listening to them where I am starting to feel as broken as I ever was, which means it’s time to stop and switch to something less addictive – what’s the methadone equivalent of TØP? Panic! At the Disco? Meh.

Tyler Joseph’s lyrics promise more redemption than the relentless darkness of Ian Curtis, or Depeche Mode in their Black Celebration phase. But the invocation of suicidality combined with certain kinds of musical phrase, those seven note seeds of sorrow that grab the back of your neck and will not let go, make it for me more a beautiful poison than a panacea.

But hey, that’s just me. What I see and hear of the sweet and quirky legion of TØP fans is that this stuff saves their lives. Sasha Geffen has written an incredibly interesting piece that highlights the way in which some of Tyler Joseph’s lyrics go beyond just focusing on how it feels to be lonely, isolated (which are not unusual adolescent feelings of course), and beyond that to clinically, dangerously depressed, but actually enact a kind of therapeutic process, an intervention if you will. Let’s take this one verse, this one rhyme/Together, let’s breathe/Together, to the beat.

These are songs, Geffen argues, that for all their focus on suicide always ask the listener to make it through the night to the day, one day at a time, and to celebrate having made it through another night. I’m glad my kid listens to it.

But hang on, I’m meant to be talking about the show, right? OK. So, let’s start by saying the number of really big arena and stadium shows, excluding music festivals, I’ve been to I could literally count on one hand. I’ve seen more shows than I can remember in pubs, bars, and larger and now sorely missed Melbourne venues like the Old Greek and Festival theatres, the Palace and the Palais, and the Metro, but most of the bands I have loved over the years have had smaller followings. So as arena shows go, I don’t have many points of comparison. Only one at one of those tennis arenas, in fact – I’m glad I saw U2 in 1989 because it marked the last moment before they disappeared entirely up their own arses. I had a nice night that night, they were very good at what they do, and hearing the Edge live was a buzz, but it didn’t feel like something I’d be forever grateful I got to be part of. Unlike TØP’s Bandito show in Melbourne on Thursday night.

So, in the spirt of the age, here is my top ten listicle review of the show, aka Ten Things I Loved about Bandito:

  1. The crowd – There is something genuinely lovely about TØP fan culture. That sense of being in it together, of having survived, of wanting to connect and make it out the other side of whatever darkness is around them is quite a special thing to witness. In the words, via Tyler, of one of the 13-year olds I was there with: “we’re not the few any more, just the proud and the emotional”. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a crowd that sang so much, singing every single word except for the incredible stillness and silence with which they witnessed those chilling If I lose to myself lines in “Neon Gravestones”.
  2. The venue staff – My god I’ve seen some surly venue staff in my life time. I’ve been physically pushed around by security guys and sneered at by door brats more times than I can remember. Every single interaction at the Rod Laver Arena on Thursday was positive – from the merch lady to the door folks, everyone was sweet and kind. I was seated just ahead of the front of the pit, looking directly down into it, from which I could see the way the security interacted with the crowd. Maybe someone who was actually in the mosh wants to correct me, but from what I could see they not only managed that pit like a boss, they were kind and respectful to everyone, including the many kids who had to be physically hauled out of it.
  3. The car – I thought the car would be a jump the shark moment. It wasn’t. It was cool AF.
  4. Tyler Joseph’s voice – From the little crack in it towards the start of “Jumpsuit” to the incredible power and clarity with which he delivered the quieter stuff, hearing it live shits all over the recordings. Even the quality of his speaking voice is gorgeously addictive.
  5. The musicianship – It’s two guys on a stage for two full hours. Sure, they use a lot of backing tapes but seriously, they played the shit out of the instruments they did play. Hearing Josh Dun play that drum solo at the end of “Lane Boy” was truly bezerk. And then there’s the uke…
  6. The uke – Which came first, Tyler Joseph or the rediscovery of the uke as a thing everyone is taking up and forming orchestras for? I don’t know but damn he makes that thing cool. Moreover, he makes it sound not twee. Anyone who can make that teeny tiny guitar thing actually sound soulful is a bloody miracle worker.
  7. The ability to connect – Someone I know (and if you read this darl let me know if you want me to quote you) described TØP to me as having a ‘very intimate form of charisma’. I can’t think of a better way to describe the way in which Tyler Joseph is able to connect with a huge audience, switching between working up the crowd into an arm waving frenzy and chatting like a genuine funny generous and humble kinda guy.
  8. Hanging with my kid – I won’t say too much here in case she finds this one day is embarrassed by it. But she let me be there with her in that moment and sing and dance and scream and completely lose our shit together. I’m not sure she’ll ever realise what a gift that is.
  9. “Trees” – No really, just “Trees”. You had to be there.
  10. Josh Dun’s torso – I’m just going to leave that here. It’s a thing of great beauty. It has to be on the list.

I hit Twitter, every insomniac’s best bud, when I got home because I could not stop buzzing. Other clikkers were awake and buzzing on Twitter after the show as well. I got into a short tweet chat with someone who was angry because they’d seen Tyler Joseph do a wrist slit gesture during “My Blood” and thought it irresponsible. I’ve seen him do this before. I know it’s a thing. I still can’t make up my mind whether I’m ok with it or not and it goes to a bigger question about TØP’s relationship with their audience. Is he in such a position of power and privilege now that its meaning is transformed, from seven years ago when “Guns for Hands” was released? Probably. When I listen to the razor blade references in “Nico and the Niners” I think maybe he knows this too.

One of the many forms of charismatic intimacy that Tyler Joseph does so well through his songs is share his complicated relationship with a music industry that both sustains and alienates him. I don’t watch many interviews with him, I’m trying my best not to stan this band too much, but I did watch one that was so irritating I’m not even going to bother linking to it or finding out the name of the interviewer, some creepy fawning bloke with a slight Australian accent. His final question, an invasive tabloid question about when Tyler and Jenna plan on getting reproductive that he dressed up as a profound reflection on narcissism, said everything about how immersed in the industry TØP are. Refusing to let that prurient and exploitative side of the industry take over, walking away from it all, is what made David Sylvian such a bloody marvel. Will Tyler Joseph have the same will or strength when the time, which is nigh, comes?

Which brings me back to the wrist slit. It’s through the gap between the vast success of the talented very few and everyone else that the really vulnerable fall. When TØP got up and accepted that Grammy a few years back and  Tyler said “anyone, from anywhere, can do anything, and this is that” we were in pure American Dream land. Small time white boys from Ohio making it big by staying true to themselves. In the giant shit show that is Trump’s America, it seems almost obscene to be as inwardly focused, as apolitical, as complicit with the industry as TØP are. And yet, this does not change the fact that this is some of the most interesting, complex and simply quite beautiful genre crossing pop that has been created in a very long time.

But don’t forget the songs that made you cry, and the songs that saved your life. Can songs save lives? I don’t know. But I do wonder if, had there been songs in my life like “Holding onto You” and “Migraine” at 17 instead of “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” and “Atrocity Exhibition”, maybe the passage through to being ok would have been easier and less lonely. And that, as Mr Joseph would say, “should be celebrated”.