Tony Abbott has written back to a Bendigo girl who took him to task about the federal budget in a letter. Photo: Alex EllinghausenPrime Minister Tony Abbott has written back to a 10-year-old Bendigo girl who took him to task in a letter over a proposed GP fee and the government’s asylum seeker policy.
The Bendigo Advertiser has reported that Camp Hill Primary School student Rachael Hamilton has received a response from Mr Abbott, but her questions on the issues she raised were not answered.
Rachael wrote a letter to Mr Abbott late last month challenging him on the federal budget.
The letter received national attention after Opposition leader Bill Shorten shared the Advertiser’s report on his Facebook page.
Rachael’s mum Bernadette Ward said the school received a letter from Mr Abbott, addressed to her daughter, on Wednesday.
Ms Ward read the letter out to the Bendigo Advertiser.
“Dear Rachael,” Ms Ward said reading Mr Abbott’s letter.
“Thank you for taking the time to write to me. One of the most enjoyable things about being Prime Minister is hearing from young people like yourself. I congratulate you on taking an interest in our system of government.
“We are a great country and a great people. One day it will be the responsibility of you and your generation to lead our country.
“It says something positive about you that you were willing to take the time to write and share with me your thoughts about the issues that face our country.
“Our democracy truly rests on the idea that every individual counts and everyone can have his or her say on the issues that matter most to them.
“Thank you for your correspondence and I send you my best wishes.”
Ms Ward said her daughter was excited to receive the letter but many of her questions remained unanswered.
“It’s one of the standard letters I think,” she said.
“It’s what they roll out when they get things like this.”
Ms Ward said the publicity surrounding Rachael’s letter had attracted both positive and negative reactions from members of the community.
“It did go pretty nuts,” she said. “We didn’t expose her to any of the Facebook stuff.”I welcome that the community has their point of view but there’s been a letter sent to the school as well which we haven’t shown Rachael.
“It’s a lengthy explanation about why this person believes we shouldn’t accept asylum seekers and all sorts of other things, but it’s signed by ‘an anonymous gran’.
“So I said to my partner that if this person doesn’t have the courage that a 10-year-old has to put their name to their opinion then I wouldn’t expose her to it.
“You have to learn to name your opinions.”