Short On Character

First off may I say a big thank you to all the readers who sent me their reflection on the Whitlam government and the passing of Gough Whitlam last week. I have published a small collection on my website and I invite you to take a look. It was certainly a subject matter that aroused strong opinions.

In that respect not much has changed in politics over the past 40 years. People still get passionate in their support or opposition to various issues. Most of the time it’s quite healthy as it inspires people to get involved with public debate. However, there are too many in public life who, rather than deal with the facts of any particular matter, prefer instead to misrepresent the facts to suit themselves.

I am not talking about the word games or political sophistry that is an unfortunate part of modern politics but the deliberate representation of something known to be incorrect as being truth. Whilst this happens far too often, when such untruths are spoken by the leader of a major political party it speaks volumes.

Last weekend, the Labor leader did exactly that when speaking to the Australian Christian Lobby about changing the definition of marriage.

During his speech, Mr Shorten said: “When I hear people allege that ‘God tells them’ that marriage equality is the first step on the road to polygamy and bigamy and bestiality, I cannot stay silent.”

It was clearly a swipe at me (which was also briefed to the papers), and he is perfectly entitled to do that. However, it also says a lot about Mr Shorten’s character and his willingness to create a political narrative built around falsehoods.

Firstly, Bill Shorten is not the first person to twist, misquote and distort my words on this matter. Senior members of both major parties and many in the media have done the same.

Their outrage hasn’t changed my belief that changing the definition of marriage to satisfy one group of people will only embolden others to seek further redefinitions. This is the experience in other countries and so we’d be foolish to think the same demands wouldn’t eventually be made here.

Shorten also referred to ‘marriage equality’ while then going on to say why marriage shouldn’t be allowed for those who endorse multi-member unions. It appears then that ‘equality’ is only for some in Mr Shorten’s world, but it does demonstrate that even the vacuously hypocritical are prepared to draw a line in the sand.

However, to me, the most egregious words in Bill Shorten’s comments is the phrase “God tells them.”

I certainly have never said that and have never known anyone else to say that in the context of what Mr Shorten was referring to. This fact was picked up by an audience member who actually raised it during the post speech questions. I am told Bill Shorten was unable to verify his claim.

And to me, that’s the real telling point. Individuals who are prepared to mislead an audience in a set speech to a Christian organisation have serious character questions to answer.

Let me conclude by making this very clear. Any person is entitled to share their view on the merits or otherwise of redefining marriage. I know there are many different views among readers of my weekly emails. I also know that many readers are just as passionate about this issue as they are about their views on the Whitlam government.

So let me be crystal clear that I am not buying into that debate today.

The question is one of character. If a political leader is prepared to go to the lengths Mr Shorten appears to have done last weekend for base political purposes, I think we are all entitled to question what else he’d be prepared to do should he ever become Prime Minister.

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