A Conversation with Dr Mark Robinson MP

So yesterday on Vision Radio, Robbo and Becki were discussing politics with Dr Mark Robinson, the State MP for Cleveland - now Oodgeroo - electorate. Dr Robinson is a Christian who is not afraid to stand up for Christian values in our state parliament. It's desperately needed with the current political and social climate in Australia which is getting further and further away from Australian Christian heritage and what has made our country the fantastic place that it is. He's also a father-of-seven which clearly means he's a great person, too!

Dr Robinson was taking questions from listeners, so I took the opportunity to ask him about something I have been noticing amongst my friends and family in regard to politics. How does one person or one family engage with politics and their political representatives to make sure that their voices are heard?

Many of my friends, particularly busy mums like me find it difficult to know what to do to to engage with their political representatives. Unless you know about an issue, it's hard to write to a MP to 'talk' about it. It's hard to know what's happening in politics sometimes - and especially to know what's accurate about the state of things in politics.

Dr Robinson suggested a few things and I thought I would share them with you so you know what you can do to engage with your local MP. Let me first suggest first, though, that it's important to let your MP know your views! I know it seems like you're one-of-many and can't make a real difference, but our laws are really important because they show our morality. It's a symbiotic relationship with our laws and morals as a society. If our MPs are making bad laws, it will affect us eventually. Conversely, if they make good laws, it affects us as well. 

Our government is there to serve us, not tell us what to do! They are meant to represent our interests overseas, provide law and order and infrastructure. It's my belief that today the government sees itself as big brother, making sure the little children do what they're told. There is a very big divide between what the media and politicians tell us we should do and what we all actually do, don't you agree? In regards to the recent Australia Day fiasco, most Australians (including a lot of Indigenous Australians) don't really care about changing the date of Australia Day. But you'd think, listening to the politicians and popstars that we need to change the date and it's what most of us want.

So, with this in mind - the government serves the people, not the other way around - let me share what Dr Robinson shared with me:

1. Sign up to Australian Christian Lobby's newsletters via email
2. Sign the petitions! I was wondering if this actually works and Dr Robinson said that it does. He referred to the Pyne Abortion bills and said that 55000 Queenslanders signed an e-petition to have the bills scrapped. That was huge. So yes, add your one signature - and encourage your spouse and family and friends to do that same. All those signatures DO add up and DO make a difference!
3. Become a member of an association, community or advocacy group. I'm a member of the Australian Family Association and Cherish Life. This lets me know what's happening in politics and also strengthens the advocacy group as well.
4. Ring, email, visit or write to your local MP. The thought of visiting a local MP makes me what to curl up and vomit with anxiety, but one day I may be brave enough to do it! Members of Parliament are YOUR voice in parliament. The good ones WANT to hear from you. So give their office a ring to let them know what you think about issues that are important to you. Write a brief paragraph about an issue. It doesn't need to be a long, heavy thing - MPs are busy people so brief and punchy and to-the-point is better.
5. Join the Facebook group of your local MP. It's a great way to see what they're doing and to keep in touch with the issues they're tackling for you. Plus, all their contact details are on their FB page so you don't need to go searching!
6. Volunteer to hand out how-to-vote cards or help them out around election time. That is a sure way to get closer to your MP, meet them and let them know who you are. Being visible and part of the team is a great way to get to know your MP.

My own recommendation is to join a political party. It's very inexpensive, keeps you in touch and also supports the MP who is most in line with your values and morals. I joined Australian Conservatives last year after previously being a member of Family First (FF is now part of AC). Being a financial member of a political party furthers your voice and all those voices together are very strong.

So there you go! All these things are pretty easy to do (I only just had my first time handing out how-to-vote cards in November, so I'm still very new to it all!) and not expensive. Get together with some friends and join a political party together or write letters/emails together - there's no limit on what you can do to keep yourself informed and engaged. With our current political climate, it's actually not only easy, but VITAL that we keep our MPs accountable for how they represent us and our interests.


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