I just received this heartwarming story from one our Australian organisers, Samantha Mella, who bumped into Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gilliard in her hometown in the Hunter Valley (where much coal mining goes on). She retells the experience…

Gadday – I met the Prime Minister yesterday. Can you indulge me while I tell you about it?

sites/all/files/350blog_samantha_mella.jpgI had just had my first child free morning after the school holidays. So naturally, being me,  I sat down and wrote a letter to the editor as soon as the kids left the house.  Then my husband called me, "You have an appointment with Meschelle at 11am." Blast, so I had to do a really quick edit job and send it, and burned into Maitland. The Newcastle Herald called to say they would print my letter. And then after the appt, my husband invited me for a coffee, (choice!!) so we amble up to the mall to have a "date" and there are police and security guards outside his favourite coffee house. He was annoyed, but I was extremely excited. I knew she was in the Hunter today, and Joel Fitzgibbon's car (my old local member of Parliament) was parked outside.

"It's the Prime Minister!!! " I hissed to my husband, "Can we please, please please have a coffee here."

"That is the last thing I feel like dealing with now," said husband. So reluctantly I followed him to another cafe. I sculled my coffee and waited impatiently for my husband to sip through his and raced back into the mall, where I could see the security had moved.

Maitland Mall was just about deserted. They were easy to spot, doing photos with people in the street. I went straight up to Joel [Member of Parliament] ( who has received hundreds of emails from me regarding 350 parts per million, the coal and gas strategy etc etc, and who, after many many emails, actually started answering them personally, even though I no longer live in his electorate). I said, "Joel, its Sam Mella, can you PLEASE introduce me to the Prime Minister. I want to congratulate her on the carbon tax." He boomed "Sam!!" like I am some old friend and took me straight up to her and introduced me as a "regular correspondent." I shook her hand. She is shorter than she looks on TV. She has soft gentle hands, and really nice welsh skin.

So I said, and I quote, "Thank you for the carbon tax. I am so proud of you and I am so proud of Australia."

She looked stunned, completely stunned. It was very very clear this was not what she expected in the HUNTER VALLEY.  Then she said, "Awww, thank you."  And maybe she got a bit teary but maybe I am embellishing it in my imagination.  Maybe it was me that was teary. It all happened so fast.

And that was it. Today, my letter to the editor was in the Maitland Mercury, and tomorrow, it will be in the Newcastle Herald. I am so tired of all the negativity largely coming out of the Murdoch press, (70% of Australian print media.)  So I am fighting back in my own small way, by writing. It was truly great to run into her right after I penned this.

Thanks Jules, for the price on carbon. Many people who are complaining do not yet understand the whole package with the tax reforms. If they did, they would be starting to take some simple steps towards energy efficiency to COME OUT AHEAD!!!

Thank you also to the cross benchers, who have bought us a real democracy. Close down the brown coal power stations? An independent  Clean Energy Finance Corporation? These are not Labor ideas and they are great for my kids.  

I feel proud that we Aussies have elected a government that has the courage and integrity to take a leadership position on carbon pricing. Australia, with the highest per capita carbon footprint on the planet, whose biggest export is coal, has the GUTS to price carbon. Others will follow.

Tough decisions are not always popular. With this courageous step, we are saying to our kids that we care about their future. We care about the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, the Snowy Mountains, and our beautiful beaches. We care about the all the people and the amazing animals that live in this country, now and forever.

Thank you, Jules. You have guts. I like that.

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