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A Letter To The New Prime Minister, By Lisa Wilkinson

Dear Prime Minister Morrison,

Firstly, congratulations to you and your party on your win.

Against all the odds, and all the polls, you have secured a mandate from the Australian people.

As we navigate these often confusing, unsettled times of change, we are now looking to our Prime Minister like never before for real leadership -- both here and on the world stage -- with a genuinely clear direction that doesn’t alter course with the latest Newspoll.

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Please, Prime Minister, right now we need to see what true leadership with a united party behind you looks like, because I think we can all agree we haven’t seen that for quite some time.

The late Bob Hawke casting his vote in Coburn, Melbourne, in 1990. Image: AFP/Getty Images.

And it might be good to start with some healing.

Prime Minister, you may have noticed we’re all feeling just a little broken right now -- broken-hearted in fact, at how toxic the Australian body politic has become -- and a return to basic civility in public discourse would be a great start to that healing.

We are sick and tired of the energy spent on in-fighting, political point-scoring and the tribal, factional warfare of recent years. We are aching for inspiring solutions put together by serious people, at a time when we are facing serious problems.

Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison at Parliament House in 2018. Image: AAP.

We know, too, that the climate is sick and tired. And things are getting worse.

Most of us now fear the kind of planet we are leaving behind for our kids and grandkids.

Just last weekend we learnt that the planet’s CO2 levels had broken all records and were at their highest in the last 800,000 years. Human beings have never existed, let alone survived, in an atmosphere such as this.

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Our summers have never been hotter, our riverbeds drier, our farmers more desperate, our native animals more endangered. As the magnificent David Attenborough has warned us, we are in the midst of a climate emergency.

Australian farmers have dealt with what may be the worst drought in 800 years. Image: Supplied.

Somehow, too, as a nation in 2019, despite being more prosperous than ever before, more materially blessed, more technologically connected, a huge proportion of us can only get through the week while medicated.

More Australians than ever are homeless. How is it, Prime Minister, that in a country as rich as ours, more than 100,000 of our fellow Australians sleep on the streets every night?

Anxiety and depression are at record levels. Rates of suicide, particularly among young males, are at an all-time high.

Why, as a country, is there so much unhappiness?

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Sure. As the saying goes, it’s about the economy, stupid. But what I really hope with your government is that the indices of your success or otherwise, don’t start and finish there.

We need to be more content as a people, with a greater sense of community, and cohesion. The wound that is the deeply troubled history between white Australia and the First Peoples -- and the ongoing social issues that stem from it -- is far from healed, and we can all hope for great progress on that front in the life of your government.

John Howard famously said at the beginning of his own long run up to the Prime Ministership: “The times will suit me”.

Well please let me tell you a bit about our times.

Women are still suffering from a gender pay gap of 14.1 percent that puts us in an appalling 39th position on world rankings; childcare is still unaffordable for far too many hard-working families, and domestic violence is a national epidemic and disgrace...

So, Prime Minister, whichever way we have all individually voted, together we have now voted you in, given you our trust, and we need to know you will be there to follow through, and prove that trust has not been misplaced.

It might have been the contentious seat of Warringah but this is proof we are all just Aussies hoping for a stronger Australia.

So, sincerely, the very best of luck with it all.

And look, just one other thing: If you’re ever in doubt when those big decision-making moments arise, when all the nation turns its lonely eyes to you, if despite all your best efforts you find that wisdom is failing you, can you do us a favour? Just call Jacinda.

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"How can I help?"

Yours in hope,

Lisa Wilkinson