“I’m very worried where the country is going and that we’re unable now to pull together.”
“These are very dangerous times and I know a lot of Australians feel that way.”
“22 bills have been put up for same sex marriage. None of them have come with any guarantees on preserving for example freedom of religion.”
“I’m voting NO for personal reasons of conviction but also for public policy reasons.”
And If the definition of marriage is changed?
When John Anderson speaks on a topic he’s often described as the voice of common sense.
The former deputy prime minister has always been welcomed as someone who brings an adult conversation to a debate and none more welcome than the current hot potato on same-sex marriage.
A short while ago the stats showed 10-million Australians had returned their postal votes with 6-million still outstanding.
John Anderson thinks some demographics in the community are likely to give it a miss.
He said many in his age group are not inclined to vote. Although they don’t agree with same-sex marriage some are very angry that politicians are using the vote as a distraction from more important matters while others just don’t care.
“But I would urge them, it is important, please vote,” John appealed. “These are profound and important changes. We are too fractured a country already.”
John repeated his appeal. “Please have your say. Because whatever decision is made we’re all going to feel better about it if Australians have had their say.”
As far as John Anderson’s age group is concerned, the 60 years and over demographic, he sought advice on the matter from a person he described as very astute and someone he referred to on important issues during his time as a serving politician.
“He said he was pretty confident that a lot of older men can’t get what this is about. They have difficulty comprehending it as an important issue. Many of them think it’s extraordinary as a concept so they’re not voting as a protest to say there are more important issues,” John shared.
Again the former deputy prime minister drew attention to what he described as the fractured state of the nation.
“Whatever the decision and I say this very strongly we’re so fractured as a country and this is showing up in our gridlocked politics, we need to show unity and at least show that we respect one another’s views and all have our say,” John stated in the hope the political structure could function more smoothly.
As far as John Anderson is concerned the same sex marriage debate is only a small part of the country’s problems that are contributing to its fracture.
“I think it’s much deeper than that. I really do. This has given us a window into how fractured we really are.”
“I’m very worried where the country is going and that we’re unable now to pull together.”
But how important is the same-sex marriage postal survey? John Anderson said it’s extremely important. And what if the definition of marriage is changed?
“It will have a huge impact on our society,” John declared. “But not because a few thousand Australians will take away a marriage certificate.”
“But as Paul Kelly pointed out, (Editor-at-Large for The Australian newspaper) it’s because of the impact on other freedoms. Whenever you move freedoms around on the chessboard you impact on other freedoms.”
“Now if the country’s most experience journalist, (Paul Kelly) the man who can un-box our culture better than anybody else in the media today, and can see that the implications are profound, we ought to as well,” was John’s advice.
Another observation from John Anderson was that we focus far more on what divides us than what unites us.
“Here we are, facing the most dangerous international world strategically and economically, probably since the 1930s, and we can’t get our act together properly on repairing the budget, on defence, and on international relationships, we just seem to have an entitlement culture …”
“…That’s me and my people in my little circle rather than me as an Australian and what I need to preserve my future and my kids’ future in every way economically and strategically.”
“These are very dangerous times and I know a lot of Australians feel that way,” John Anderson remarked.
He said it’s not just the politicians – they’re just a reflection of us.
“We’ve got to decide what’s important to us again. That’s why on this marriage thing I’ve kept saying, ‘Yes, I’m voting NO for personal reasons of conviction but also for public policy reasons.”
“I believe there are very sound public policy reasons for preserving marriage and I point out that it was only a few years ago that members of parliament on all sides said that, including the then prime minister Julia Gillard.”
“So I don’t think things have changed. I still think there are very strong public policy reasons for preserving marriage,” said John.
As for the 22 bills that have been put up for same sex marriage….
“None of them have come with any guarantees on preserving, for example, freedom of religion,” John noted, saying it was the Christian worldview with the emphasis on the worth and dignity of each of us that gave rise to our freedoms.
“But freedom is very recent. That’s the first thing you notice about it. Most societies down through the ages have not known freedom.”
“By the time Australia was settled three-quarters of the world’s population were slaves or serfs. They had no political, or personal or economic freedom.”
“We have enormous freedoms in Western society. Where did they come from?”
“They came from this unique idea that we all have worth and dignity. Far too much time and too much blood was shed working it out. There were some disgraceful things that happened, we know that.”
“But what came out of that was freedom of conscience. We realised we had to recognise that people would have different views and they might hold them very strongly, just like we do on marriage today.”
“Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion are much the same thing to be honest. They’re the things you hold most deep and most dear. And then you have to be able to speak them. It’s not free if you’re not allowed to speak them.”
“Now I have to say we’ve seen some horrendous attacks on freedom of speech.”
Why? ‘Because you can’t give the people who want to say NO a say’
“The mere fact the parliament took it upon itself to deny the elected government the policy it had taken to the Australian people to give them their say…that’s a denial of the freedom of speech! That’s what it was!” exclaimed John Anderson.
“It was a denial of peoples’ conscience. We were told, ‘Oh no, you can’t have that because people might be homophobic or bigoted.’ What happens if they just happen to love the institution of marriage and believe in the traditional view of it? And I’m one of those people.”
“It actually doesn’t have anything to do with the LGBTIQ community and their perspectives. It has to do with the love of an institution. One has worked at it very hard over many years at making it work.”
But all this raises a much bigger concern for John Anderson. He confessed he’s very worried and that it sends a chill down his spine. Here’s what he said.
“Our leaders, not just political but our cultural and media leaders by and large, and our business leaders, even our sporting leaders. Having said there shouldn’t be a plebiscite, ‘No, no no, you can’t give the people who want to say NO a say,’ they took it on themselves to campaign vigorously for their side.”
Worse in my view, worst of all actually was the businessman who was forced off the board of two Christian organisations by the gays saying, ‘He shouldn’t be on those boards – that’s homophobic.’ That’s a denial of freedom of association. The right to meet peacefully with whoever you like as long as you’re not engaging in criminal activity.”
To explain this development John Anderson suggested to look at it the other way around.
“Can you imagine the outcry if that businessman had been on the board of the Gay Mardis Gras and he’d been forced off it. People would have rightly said, ‘That’s a denial of freedom of speech and association.’”
John Anderson said we obviously have to think about these things in Australia because we are attempting to silence other people. He said it’s saying you can’t have freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.
“We have to fix that. The key to a coherent, civic, free society is one where people can hold their most deeply held views and express them. To also be prepared to realise that other people may not like them, or you may not like other peoples’ views, but you need to defend their right to hold those views and to put them, unless they’re criminal.”
“Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson says, ‘We need to be honest, and we have the right to ask the hard questions. The evidence here and abroad suggests that it would be naïve to think it’s simply about marriage’.”
– An important video message from John Anderson – on Facebook.
In June 2005 Anderson announced that he would resign from the ministry and as Leader of the Nationals in mid- July citing a “debilitating but thankfully benign prostate condition” and other personal concerns. The prostate condition was also described as a stress-related prostate condition.
On 13 June 2011, Anderson was named an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the Parliament of Australia, particularly through support of rural and regional communities, transport development, and water management initiatives.