Here’s how I replied to Dr Gillespie’s response. What do you think are the biggest issues out there? Do you think I was too harsh? Not harsh enough?

If you missed the original letter and Dr Gillespie’s reply, have a read of them.

Dear Dr Gillespie

Thank you for responding to my letter and for your apology in regards to the original post on Facebook.

I find the Coalition’s position quite confusing. Is ‘stopping the boats’ a border protection issue, or is it to prevent people risking their lives at sea? I believe the phrase ‘stopping the boats’ is misleading and plays on the fear of immigration, which as an immigrant myself, I have experienced first hand. This is what I am referring to when I speak of cheap political gain.

I support any policy which reduces the rate of people risking their lives. However, that is the whole reason people, legally, seek asylum in Australia. If they remained in their home countries, they would be risking their lives for the duration of their life.

Asylum seekers don’t come to Australia for the weather, they come here because to stay in their home countries would be far more dangerous than the path to Australia.

I worry your position does not legitimately cause the least harm to all people involved.

Further I would like to add that I deplore the ‘PNG Solution’. There are whole subsections of asylum seekers, namely LGBTI people, who may face persecution in PNG itself.

I can see this is an issue we will continue to disagree on and something we could debate indefinitely. That’s a summary of my main concerns and I would like you to know that I have been overwhelmed by the community support of my position.

I am glad that you do not support coal seam gas development where it may pose a risk to water. It is definitely an issue very close to the hearts of the residents in Lyne. I think it is something we need to stop and think about, as a nation before we act on it, taking into account independent scientific research and the detrimental impact it has had in the US. The process itself depredates any land it is on, with boreholes etcetera. Perhaps there are more sustainable options out there instead of just mining another (limited) fossil fuel?

I have had a lot of interest in the media attention my original letter received. It has helped engage many of the young (and older) people I know. I decided to use this momentum for good. I’ve been canvasing the views of my peers and here’s a few of the issues that have arisen.

Climate Change

This is a major issue for many people, who are concerned that we are ignoring the scientific evidence out there. What is your personal view on climate change? I know there are many in the Coalition who refute the scientific evidence. How will you be working to protect our future?

Marriage Equality

Most people I speak to believe this is a simple issue and it does not make sense why same sex couples cannot yet marry. It is often likened to mixed race marriages in the past. Especially as same sex couples can adopt in NSW and are actively encouraged to foster. If you are afforded a conscience vote how will you be voting on this issue?

Youth Allowance

This is an allowance that is extremely hard to become eligible for, especially for regional people. It is a significant amount less than Newstart Allowance, although YA recipients are expected to be studying full time. Most people I know on YA are forced to work a job as well to support themselves.

Youth Mental Health and Suicide

Do you think there is enough services and education provided on this issue? Too many men lose their lives to this, and it is especially concerning when they are young people. This is something I have been personally affected by, and I am sure it is something close to the core of many regional people’s concerns considering the rates of suicide. Does the Coalition have any specific policy on this and what is your personal position?

Jobs for Young People

I know when someone finishes school it’s very hard to get an apprenticeship or traineeship to get skilled up. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be able to gain permanent employment after someone finishes their studies at school. However this is not the case with people struggling to find even casual employment in Lyne.

I would be very interested to attend any public forums or candidates’ debates. Will there be any held during the campaign? It will be difficult to attend as I am at university at the moment, but it is something I think is certainly important and I will be encouraging my peers to attend.

Several of my friends have seen you out door knocking so keep up the hard work, again it’s great to see a candidate listening to their constituency.

My number is listed below and I would love to talk to you further however I would prefer a response in writing. This is the best way for me to communicate it on to the many people in our community who have been following this so keenly.

All the best.

CC: Editor, Manning River Times

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1098278_10201573218590104_309776952_n (1)

The letter to Dr David Gillespie makes Page 1

First published in the Manning River Times, Wednesday 7 August 2013

Read the full letter here:

Open Letter to David Gillespie


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Dr GILLESPIE REPLIES (A Day Before it was to be Published…)

The day before my letter was to be published in the local paper I received this reply from Dr Gillespie.
It’s extremely polite and well written, but somewhat lacks on policy.
Read my reply to this here. What’s your view?
Dear Mr Pitt
I appreciate you taking the effort to contact me. I find it admirable that you are taking an active interest in this election and I hope that I can give you a better idea of what I stand for and why I have put my hand up for Parliament.

I don’t believe that I or the Coalition are using the border security issue for cheap political gain. As a doctor I am disturbed by the rate of people risking their lives at sea to travel to Australia. I cannot in good conscience support a policy that allows this to occur.

Australia is a country built on the hard work of immigrants. I welcome legitimate migrants to Australia and the Mid North Coast. We wouldn’t be the nation we are today without the multitude of cultures and backgrounds that contribute to our communities.

In regards to Coal Seam Gas mining I am very concerned about its impact on the environment. I believe that no coal seam gas development should occur where it poses a significant risk to water. Strategic Agricultural land is the backbone of the regions and should be protected from activities that destroy its capacity to deliver us food security. I also think it is very important that landholders and communities get a fair return from CSG projects. Additionally, I do not support coal seam gas developments in close proximity to residential areas.

The Nationals supported the Water Trigger amendment to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and I can assure you that I do not want to see our beautiful environment damaged.

I appreciate you taking the time to write to me. I must offer an apology to you about your facebook message that was deleted off my page. I had an overzealous volunteer who was monitoring the page.

Although we might disagree on some issues I can assure you that I will work hard for you if I am elected as the Member for Lyne. My door is always open and I would like to chat to you over the phone if you would like to give me your number.


David Gillespie

Nationals Candidate for Lyne

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After I first posted the letter on Dr Gillespie’s Facebook Page (Nationals’ Candidate for Lyne) it was removed. I wrote to the local newspaper, the Manning River Times.
Dear Editor,
As a young person, I chose social media to engage in the federal campaign and involve my peers.
Please find below a comment I placed on David Gillespie’s Nationals Campaign Facebook Page.
This comment was beginning to gain momentum, before it was removed.
I am at a real loss as to how we are supposed to engage in legitimate debate, if it is censored. Young people cry that politicians do not listen. Dr Gillespie has silenced our views.
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Here’s the letter I originally wrote to Dr David Gillespie. He had posted a status on Facebook about “protecting Australia’s borders”.

What’s your perspective on the refugee issue?

I think our politicians need to rethink their view on refugees! Have a look at that link to the facts on refugees. It’s a great resource.

Dear Dr Gillespie

As a young person who has grown up in Lyne I know and care about many of the issues that face us today.

The ‘influx of refugees’ is not high on the list of issues that concern us.

What does concern young people, is being the best we can be as a nation. Framing a humanitarian issue for a cheap political gain is not the best way to go about this. As a doctor, someone who’s very career is built on helping people, does this not sit uncomfortably with you?

As Julian Burnside QC argued in The Age, our border is protected in 99.3% of cases. Thus neutering that argument.

It is not illegal to seek asylum in Australia, in fact, it is a right inshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, as basic as access to water and sanitation.

We are the richest nation in our region. We should be leading on this issue, with the lives of people seeking refuge at the forefront of our policy formation. This is in direct contrast to what the Nationals, the Liberal Party and the Labor Party are doing at the moment.

I agree with you, running advertisements in major Australian newspapers is a waste of money. That money could be better spent helping refugees integrate into our wonderful multicultural society.

It is disappointing your campaign chooses to focus on this, when there are many more pressing local issues.

The Manning River, a river I have grown up on, is under threat from CSG mining. Mining companies have been granted exploration licences by the government, against the direct wish of the local communities, and in contradiction to the evidence of the danger of mining.

Agriculture and tourism are two of our biggest industries. These rely on our pristine environment. This creates jobs, and brings money into our local economy.

The Manning River is the only double delta river in the Southern Hemisphere. Our water supply is fed from the Manning.

All of these are legitimate reasons for protecting against CSG mining, but above all it is our home.

What will the Nationals be doing to protect us?

I remember meeting you when you in Taree, when you ran in the last election and you came across as a genuine person. When you nominated to run again, this shows heart, and a real passion for our area. But your policies fail you.

Please remember, I, and many of my friends, will never vote for a party who chooses to lock up children and young people indefinitely in detention. We will never vote for a party who puts political gain before human rights. And we will never vote for a party who is willing to sell our land off to mining companies, for short term gain, ahead of our very futures.

I look forward to your response.

All the best with your campaign,


Nationals' Candidate David Gillespie. Photo: Facebook

Nationals’ Candidate David Gillespie. Photo: Facebook

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