To: Julie Collins Julie.Collins.MP@aph.gov.au
Member for (the Australian Federal electorate of) Franklin
Dear Ms Collins,
As my local Federal member, could you please inform me as a matter of urgency as to what assistance the Australian government is providing to my colleague, Austin Mackell, currently facing a court in Egypt after being charged on the weekend and allegedly about to be deported?
Further, I request a statement as to whether the Australian Government believes that Austin has received fair and reasonable legal defence, not limited to the question of whether less than two days is a fair and reasonable time to assemble a defence against the charges faced.
I also seek you to confirm or deny claims that the only Consular access Mr Mackell has received is a telephone call and whether this telephone call was secured against phone tapping procedures that are known to take place in Egypt under the current Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (of Egypt).
Your message To: Collins, Julie (MP) Subject: Open letter regarding Austin G Mackell Sent: Monday, 13 February 2012 10:17:36 AM (UTC+10:00) Hobart was read on Monday, 13 February 2012 11:42:49 AM (UTC+10:00) Hobart. Final-recipient: RFC822; Julie.Collins.MP@aph.gov.au Disposition: automatic-action/MDN-sent-automatically; displayed X-MSExch-Correlation-Key: nUANfoNLL0iAbRAP7/5VzA==
(edit: Added tags, Return Receipt)
Update Fri 24th Feb 2012:
Contacted Ms Collins’ office today. Conversation roughly went:
Me: Why haven’t you responded to my email yet?
Staffer: Maybe no one’s read it yet
Me: The Return Receipt came back to me on the day it was sent, which I understand was a public holiday for everyone in her office, indicating someone read it two weeks ago.
Staffer: Oh, well maybe it go read but not … Read. Let me check. Yes, someone’s picked it up.
Me: Is it too much to ask to be sent a formal receipt reply when someone picks up a constituent’s letter?
Staffer: I’ll find out what’s happening for you.
Me: (To self, ‘This is insane’) Okay then.
I’d like to emphasize this is not verbatim, but merely my recollection of the conversation immediately after hanging up.
Update Tue 13th Mar 2012:
On 13/02/12 11:42, Collins, Julie (MP) wrote:
> Your message
> To: Collins, Julie (MP)
> Subject: Open letter regarding Austin G Mackell
> Sent: Monday, 13 February 2012 10:17:36 AM (UTC+10:00) Hobart
> was read on Monday, 13 February 2012 11:42:49 AM (UTC+10:00) Hobart.
> Final-recipient: RFC822; Julie.Collins.MP@aph.gov.au
> Disposition: automatic-action/MDN-sent-automatically; displayed
> X-MSExch-Correlation-Key: nUANfoNLL0iAbRAP7/5VzA==
> Original-Message-ID: <4F384890.firstname.lastname@example.org>
> X-Display-Name: Collins, Julie (MP)
Dear Ms Collins,
I follow up to your ‘auto-confirmation’ of the read state of my email. As you may be aware, I contacted your office on the 24th of February to ascertain any further status on my initial contact with you one month ago, apart from this automated return receipt. My comments on the conversation I had with your staffer were added to my original blog post, https://bleeter.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/open-letter-to-my-federal-mp-regarding-austin-g-mackell/
Please note that Mr Mackell’s position has moved on since my original contact with you and that your office’s silence in response to me makes it difficult to keep you reasonably ‘in the loop’ insofar as what his current status is.
I would urge you to read Mr Mackell’s piece today in ABC’s ‘The Drum Unleashed’ online piece, http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3886006.html along with my original email to you. As noted above, Mr Mackell’s situation has changed since my original request and as such the questions I now have about this case to you, as my Federal Member of Parliament, are a bit different to the originals I asked. However your office’s silence in response beyond automated systems I initiate gives me little hope that you or your staff are capable of fairly representing my queries to the Foreign Affairs Department or, in fact, any other matter within your portfolios or regarding the electorate of Franklin.
As such, for now, this leaves me with two questions which I hope you can answer as a matter of urgency.
1. Why does simple acknowledgement of receipt of electronic communication with your constituents rely on automated systems initiated by constituents that are usually not enabled by default?
2. What measures have you put in place to correct this?
I hope that a prompt response answering these questions will facilitate the ability to go back to the original matter.
Update Mar 13th 2012, 14:50
Response received to above email:
Thank you for your email regarding investment in our education system.
All Australian parents should be confident that their child will get a world-class education, no matter where they live or what school they attend.
The difference between our best and worst performing students is getting worse. The gap in literacy between our most disadvantaged and advantaged students is equivalent to almost three years of schooling.
Labor understands that we need to do more to lift performance. That?s why, since 2007, we?ve embarked on a strong school reform agenda;
* We?ve invested in teacher quality and built new facilities to modernize all our schools;
* We?ve invested in improving literacy and numeracy and supporting school improvement in disadvantaged communities;
* We?re delivering Australia?s first ever national curriculum and empowering local school principals; and
* We?ve made unprecedented changes to improve transparency in how our schools perform and are funded through ?My School?.
It?s also why we commissioned the first comprehensive review of school funding in almost 40 years.
This Gonski review clearly says we need change. Under current arrangements, similar schools with similar needs end up with different amounts of funding. We want to be confident that any new funding system will deliver the best result for our schools and our country.
We will work, in a spirit of co-operation, with schools, state and territory governments, education stakeholders and the community, to study what the report says and whether it will work.
Our aim is to introduce an improved funding system for 2014 and beyond. Change will only happen if it can support higher achievement for all students, support parental choice, and give every child access to a great education.
At every stage we will be working to make sure the federal, state and territory governments can sustainably fund the new system.
We will also be focused on the affordability of education for families and certainty for schools.
Again, thank you for contacting me. I can assure you I remain committed to ensuring that every Australian child receives a world class education.
Julie Collins MP
Federal Member for Franklin
My apologies to Ms Collins for not posting her followups earlier. I lost them in a sea of email.
Received: Tue, 13 Mar 2012 15:09:01 +1100 (EST)
Good afternoon I apologise for the message that you have received, there was an issue with= our database. Please disregard the email you received and I apologise for = any inconvenience. Regards, Julie
A database problem? Sounds more like PEBKAC.
Update received Mon, 19 Mar 2012 11:17:05 +1100 (EST)
Dear Mr Lawler I apologies for the delay in responding to you. I have been advised by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Bob Carr,= that since Mr Mackell's detention and subsequent release consular officers= from the Australian Embassy in Cairo have provided extensive consular supp= ort. Consular officers visited Mr Mackell while he was detained, have been = in regular contact with Mr Mackell since his release and have followed up s= pecific requests made by Mr Mackell, his legal representative and family.=20 I am advised that this assistance is still available and that consular offi= cers in Canberra are in regular contact with Mr Mackell's family.=20 As you may be aware, the Australian Government cannot intervene in the judi= cial and legal processes of governments overseas. I understand that Mr Mack= ell has engaged a lawyer in Egypt to assist him in this matter. Please be assured that the Australian Government will continue to extend th= e full range of consular services to Mr Mackell in Egypt.=20 Again, I apologise for the time it has taken to respond to you. =20 If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact my= office on 6244 1222. Yours sincerely Julie Collins MP Federal Member for Franklin =A0 p 03 6244 1222 f 03 6244 1211 e email@example.com www.juliecollins.com 18 Ross Ave (entrance via Bayfield St carpark) (PO Box 38) ROSNY PARK TAS 7018