This letter was sent to the Premier of Queensland by Rod Harvey on 13 September 2012. We are including it here because it is an awesome letter and it inspires us to remember that we don’t have to sit back and take as ‘normal’ the constant mistreatment of women and indeed all people in the public domain or in politics or anywhere.
by Rod Harvey, Gold Coast, Australia
Dear Mr Newman
If the report in yesterday’s Courier Mail is correct, then the lack of respect you displayed in Parliament on Tuesday is of the utmost concern to Queenslanders.
As a Queensland resident and ratepayer, I was embarrassed to read about your comments to Jackie Trad, along with your failure to censure the Leader of the House, Ray Stevens.
Mr Stevens referred to Ms Trad as “Jihad Jackie”, which was an extraordinary and inflammatory insult, not only to Ms Trad, but also to the Muslim community. Yet you, as leader, were complicit by allowing the comment to ‘pass through to the keeper’, particularly as Mr Stevens later failed to apologise to Ms Trad outside Parliament.
It would have been so simple for him to ‘man up’ and admit that the comment was ill-conceived, yet he continued to dig a hole for himself by making excuses and blaming a prior media article for his comments, which was an extraordinary and empty justification.
And your comment “If she is going to be the Opposition Leader, she is going to have to harden up”, was also totally inappropriate. Then, like Mr Stevens, you made excuses and laid blame on the previous political campaign for your actions.
What is this…‘tit for tat’ politics?
However, what is more disturbing from this disrespectful exchange, is that you are indeed demeaning women (and I, as a ‘bloke’ with no political or religious affiliation whatsoever, feel it is important to bring this to your attention).
Your inference that Ms Trad should “harden up” shows a lack of understanding about women. The inference is subtle, but ‘subtle’ is insidious and pervasive. ‘Subtle’ sets the tone for men’s attitudes (and platitudes) towards women, which is apparent from your comment.
Being a ‘real leader’ involves admitting wrongs and correcting them. A ‘real leader’ does not put down women; a ‘real leader’ recognises, respects and honours women, without wanting or needing them to ‘harden up’.
Yes, politics is a tough game with tough decisions to make, and as a leader you carry a great responsibility. And along with that are great opportunities.
Through a woman’s eyes we can appreciate beauty, strength, gentleness, dignity and a loving essence. And that same essence is there in absolute equalness in men’s eyes.
So rather than alienate 50% of your voters, here now is an opening to show true leadership by bringing ‘heart’ to the political arena.
It’s time for a refreshing change in the way that politics is conducted. Perhaps Mr Premier, you could be the very leader to make that transformation.
Rod Harvey’s companion piece: ‘For Men Only (unless you are a woman)’