Friday, June 15, 2012

When I set off for work in the morning I am always prepared to find something new out there in the world. I love the mystery that awaits on the open road and even a trip to work can be really interesting. Sometimes I find stuff I need, sometimes I discover wild fruit or a rambling lime tree hanging over a fence, sometimes there are interesting animals like the Dingos who hang around near the airport or the Black Cockatoos eating on the side of the road. This morning on my way to work I stumbled across a Federal politician! None other than ex Midnight Oil Front Man, Ex Australian Conservation Foundation President... Peter Garrett!

 Apparently Mr Garret was here to announce a big cash handout for schools... Good news.

There are so many things I've wanted to say to Mr Garret since he's been involved in politics and there he was delivered virtually at my feet and all I could do was say Good Morning... as I cycled past him on the footpath! I can't believe it! Even as I was passing him my conscience was telling me to stop and have a chat... fire some questions at him do something! But no I just smiled said good morning Peter and peddled on. Meanwhile I have friends who have been fighting tooth and nail with the NT Education Department and no doubt their Federal counterparts to get a fair hearing for Bilingual Education... not to mention the Federal Government's Occupation of Aboriginal land via the Intervention! What a wasted opportunity.
In the end all I did was write him an over edited unclear email complaining about the road! It's not even his portfolio! I even deleted the bit which explained that I'd like him to take the issue up Paul Henderson, our Chief Minister! 

Anyway here's a copy of my letter to the Honorable Member for Kingsford Smith...

To the Honorable Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth.

Dear Mr Garret… Peter,
I expect that by the time you receive this letter you will have left Darwin. I trust you found your recent visit rewarding and the Hospitality of the locals suitably welcoming.
I write to you because I feel I owe you an apology. This morning as I rode along the footpath past the Ludmilla School I saw you but failed to stop and welcome you to our town. When I realized it was you I gave a thought to stopping to say hello but hesitated only saying G’day.  
I have two apologies to make. Firstly that I did not extend the traditional Darwin Hospitality to you, a visiting dignitary to our town (And front man for one of my favorite bands!).
The second apology is for whizzing by you on my bike as you stood on the footpath in front of Ludmilla Primary School. You had to step back and I fear I gave you a fright. I am sorry for that.
 Unfortunately, due to the lack of an adequate cycle lane or path along the notorious Bagot Rd I ride along the footpath at that stage of my commute.  Bagot Rd is quite dangerous and unfortunately many cyclists choose to ride along the footpath. This can make things decidedly more hazardous for pedestrians.  When I ride home, I choose to ride on the road rather than risk being skittled by cars reversing out of their driveways, but the risk is high regardless.
Although our roads are less congested than in other states I think you’ll find that NT motorists don’t like to be delayed for any reason and this is why much of Bagot Rd is an 80km zone regardless of the proximity to schools and residences. You may see children from time to time attempting to cross the road at any of a number of bus stops on the inbound lane; I tend not to look for fear of what I might witness. Shoddy planning has given the RAAF base a manicured golf course while cyclists and pedestrians are left literally in the gutter.
If you visit again I recommend you advise your driver to take the middle lane and travel at a speed of about 60kmh, especially at night! This will help you avoid any embarrassing incidents such as collisions with cyclists, children, the elderly or infirmed as they attempt to cross this bastard of a road without being squashed by oncoming traffic. Your driver might also like to bear in mind that many of the residents at Bagot Community have dark skin, and are on low income making it necessary for them to rely on the public transport system. They have to cross Bagot Rd whenever they travel, and the results are sometimes devastating. Local drivers know this and speed regardless.
On your next visit don’t forget to pay your respects at the various sites where pedestrians and cyclists have been hit and killed crossing Bagot Rd. Plenty of flowers and chalk (paint) silhouettes to mark the locations.
Sir I hope you enjoyed your stay in Darwin I’m sure it would have been a pleasure to have met you. I look forward to nearly bumping into you again sometime.

Yours sincerely
 I actually wrote a few P.S's at the end of the letter relating to Bilingual Ed and STOP THE INTERVENTION, including the Don't cut out our tongues postcard but the truth is that I had my opportunity and I blew it! Maybe I'll do better next time we meet.

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