Dear Mr Morrison and Mr Shorten

19 May 2019

Dear Mr Morrison, 

Congratulations on the Coalition’s victory and your election as our Prime Minister.

I will be praying for you as you form your new Government and get back to the work of leading our nation. I pray that you know God’s strength, wisdom and peace as you prepare for the term ahead and face the big challenges and opportunities before our nation.

You have said many times that you want to be leader who governs for all and I trust you will begin this new term in office with a strong and genuine commitment to bringing Australians together. More than ever, we need a leader who will bring healing to a divided nation and who takes intentional steps to move us beyond where we find ourselves, particularly at the end of a hurtful and bruising campaign, where my six-year-old asked: “Dad why to those people hate each other so much?”

Yes, I was able to correct some of her exaggerated perceptions, but the reality is we are a bruised and divided nation. To quote Lisa Wilkinson: “we are feeling a little broken right now, broken-hearted in fact, at how toxic the Australian body politic has become.”

Mr Morrison, with your unexpected victory and the strength this brings to you in office, please can I humbly encourage you – as so many Australians would – to seize this opportunity and remember the leadership style and values of the one who models servant leadership and true greatness.

I didn’t vote for the Coalition yesterday. I couldn’t vote for a local member who strongly supported the Member for Dickson and who doesn’t appear to share my views on key social issues such as climate change, immigration/asylum seeker policy and the widening gap between rich and poor. But your local Member was comfortably re-elected and deserves congratulations. He is a dedicated and passionate representative. 

I don’t feel like a loser today, because I celebrate the beautiful beast that is Australian democracy. But for the first time in my life, the day after an election, I do feel a strong and compelling need to write to our new Prime Minister because Mr Morrison there is so much at stake at this time in our nation.

Yes, Australians have entrusted you to lead and manage our economy. But we also yearn for new societal leadership. We yearn for something better from all sides of politics. 

I met an older man John at my polling booth yesterday, who for the first time in his life was voting Labor. I think he was far more a ScoMo man than a Shorten fan, but he desperately wanted “a more imaginative and unified response” to the key social and moral issues of our day.

Mr Morrison, free of some of the extreme conservative shackles, that has held back good social policy, please hear from many Australians who didn’t vote for you yesterday. For many of us, it wasn’t a vote against you personally, but it was a vote to end divisive, fear-based, blinkered social policy.

Mr Morrison, we need unifying, conciliatory, imaginative leadership. You have proven yourself on the campaign trail. You have shown your capacity to be at home with Australians of diverse backgrounds. You described Bob Hawke, upon his death, as a “great bloke” and a great Australian leader. I think long-time Liberal voter John, who I met yesterday, was impacted by Hawke’s death and inspired by his leadership style.

In your first 100 days in office I would like to imagine the potential of you bringing together the new Opposition Leader and others from across the political divide to boldly discuss imaginative and consensus-based approaches to key issues like climate change, indigenous disadvantage and asylum seeker policies. That’s my optimistic nature – I imagine things could be so different, but the power for such change sits with your office.

Please Mr Morrison, allow our nation to move beyond where we are – stuck! 

I join with many Australians in praying for you, but also passionately holding on to our desire for leadership that transcends the political divide and again models courage, compassion and creativity; leadership that genuinely seeks good and most of all, for those with the least.

The Jesus we both follow didn’t play it safe. He wasn’t satisfied with the status quo. He wasn’t driven by personal popularity. He was a reconciler. He raised people’s sights. He inspired hope.

I know these are not cheap words or ideas to you, so I hope that a key legacy of the next three years is genuine and lasting change in the Australian political landscape and a willingness for mainstream political parties and Independents to dare come together to tackle some of the biggest moral and social issues impacting our nation.

Thank you for your dedicated service to our nation.

Kind regards

Scott Pilgrim [Rev]

19 May 2019

Dear Mr Shorten,  

Today will be a difficult day for you and your family and so as an ordinary Australian I wanted to take the time to write to thank you for your dedicated and passionate service, which has positively impacted the life of so many Australians.

Many Australians expected the Labor Party to win office yesterday and there will be much soul searching as to why this didn’t happen. But in the midst of this, it is right that you are recognised for your contribution to our nation. Sadly, we live at a time marked by too much recrimination and not enough applause of civic service. You have given much of your life to the Labor movement and I am thankful for your wholehearted and authentic service. Thank you for not staying on the sidelines, but giving your all for the betterment of ordinary Australians.

I have also written to the Prime Minister today to congratulate him and I hope that flowing from this election we may see real and lasting change, particularly in ending the toxic nature of the Australian body politic. I think your concession speech last night was not only inspiring, but it pointed Australians to your vision for a more unified nation, where bold and imaginative policy can be robustly debated and pursued.

The media say you became a “big target” during the campaign, but I am thankful that you were willing to take a bold agenda to the Australian population and you didn’t simply seek to “play it safe”. Whether people embraced this agenda or not, you were willing to remind Australians of the need to consider big reform issues and not be satisfied with the status quo.

In stepping down as the Opposition Leader, I pray and hope you enjoy considerable more time with your family and I wish you all the very best for your future. 

A young relative of mine shared this quote with her father this morning, from Martin Luther King Jnr: “The arc of history is long but bends in the direction of progress.” 

Thank you for your dedicated service to our nation and your heart to pursue progress.

Kind regards

Scott Pilgrim [Rev]

9 thoughts on “Dear Mr Morrison and Mr Shorten

  1. Well written, Scott. I feel that, even though your style is much more eloquent than my own, we seem to agree on many aspects of 21st century life as a follower of Jesus. I hope and pray that both men read and appreciate your letters. Mostly, I pray that Mr Morrison pays attention and seeks the Lord.

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  2. My first time to engage in blogs, I did reply earlier, whereby it clicked off, hope you received it. Your points are very helpful, thank you..not sure who to call you, perhaps Rev? Much of what you’ve written resonates with me, and as was mentioned previously, you have articulated it very eloquently. It is painful to see the divisions as you mentioned that push people apart, when there is a lot more that can draw us together. I am all for diversity but not division. your reminder that by praying for our leaders would certainly be a great start. Hope you feel better soon.

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  3. Dear Rev Pilgrim,
    My heartfelt thanks for your two letters. They brought comfort, reassurance and hope to me as I felt so utterly shattered by the election result. As a Christian I am broken-hearted and I cringe at the venomous language used by our politicians especially when those who use it profess Christ. It seems to me that the fact that they are politicians somehow gives them license to bully, to accuse, to name call, in short, to destroy people and their reputations and to do all this with impunity. When I think of the cross of Christ, did he not go to the cross for each of us regardless of our political persuasion. And wasn’t it love that held him there? And did he not command us to love God AND love our neighbour as ourselves? Are politicians exempt from this? Oh dear! So many questions running through my head and yet I must believe that God whom I love and worship has not lost control, indeed he is the same God who raised his Son from the dead and is the same yesterday, today and forever.
    Thank you again. May God bless your ministry as I have been blessed.
    Frances

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  4. Very well expressed. Like so many I held out hope for a new direction for Australia and her people. Hopefully this may still come about. The immediate consequence of the “shock” election outcome for me is a feeling of helplessness and despair, which is likely to linger for quite some time. The prospect of business as usual, or worse, in the face of so many critical challenges is very gloomy. Then I reflect that our faith calls on us to have hope, not despair, even in the most trying of times. I am, however, most decidedly perplexed. I am trying to reconcile the hope that Mr Morrison may act in line with teachings of the one true leader, Jesus, which he purports to follow, with his statement during the election campaign, namely – “I don’t mix my religion with politics or my faith with politics and it’s always been something that has informed how I live my life and how I seek to care for and support others,” he said. “That is what I always seek to do.”

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    • Thanks Ian for your feedback – be encouraged in your journey and as you rightly say, a faith that inspires hope in Jesus, who transcends politics and who gives us our mandate for living and serving. Go well. Cheers

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