Letter to the Prime Minister: Please meet with your constituents

Dear Prime Minister,

I write in my capacity as the President of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, one of Australia’s leading human rights and civil liberties organisations. The Council is non-political, non-religious and non-sectarian. We are a Non-Government Organisation in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, by resolution 2006/221 (21 July 2006).

I have written to you on two earlier occasions on the issue of Australia’s position with respect to Palestine; including a joint letter issued with Liberty Victoria. To date, I have not received a response to the issues raised in those letters.

On this occasion I write in relation to the peaceful vigil that is being held outside your electorate office regarding the ongoing violence destroying the lives and futures of tens of thousands innocent civilians in Palestine.

We recognise this vigil as a legitimate exercise of democratic freedoms available in Australia. The vigil is noteworthy in that the organisers, their families and attendees are diverse in their religious beliefs and cultural heritage. Importantly, the organisers and many of the protestors live in your electorate – they are your constituents.

We understand that the primary purpose of the participants in the vigil is to achieve an occasion on which they can communicate directly to you, as their electoral representative and as Prime Minister of Australia, their views in relation to the events in Gaza and how they affect people in Australia.

Public confidence in our governmental and political institutions requires elected officials to engage with their constituents, particularly in relation to matters of international significance such as the current events in Palestine which directly affect so many people in Australia.  We strongly believe that an important part of a healthy democracy is constituent access to elected representatives. 

We are concerned that you are yet to meet with participants in the vigil and to give them the opportunity to share their concerns with you personally.

This could understandably be perceived as a breach of your obligations towards them and damaging to public confidence in Australia’s democracy.

We urge you to meet with your constituents and allow them to ventilate their concerns.

The Council remains available to you and your office if you require any further information with respect to the issues raised herein.

Yours faithfully,

Lydia Shelly


Read our letter here.