Following on from yesterday’s comment, many readers have contacted me asking about the events and motivations for my own political involvement. I’ll share a couple of recollections with you now.
I was always politically aware and remember as a 14-year-old speaking with then Prime Minister Bob Hawke on Adelaide radio lamenting the ability of young people to participate in political debates.
A few years later I left school and joined the Liberal Party at the invitation of a ‘wannabe’ MP. He was later successful in achieving his ambition (without any assistance from me I might add).
This was nearly 23 years ago and I have been involved with the Liberal Party ever since.
However, the single biggest motivator for me to get really involved in the Liberal organisation and ultimately to seek a position in the Senate was the result of a conversation during a round of golf.
Around 14 years ago, I was invited by the aforementioned parliamentarian to play golf at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club where he was a member. In a wide-ranging discourse the substance of our conversation eventually (inevitably?) turned to political involvement.
In response to my question of why he joined the Liberal Party the MP blithely responded: “I live in a Liberal seat so I had to be a member of the Liberal Party to get into Parliament. If I lived in a Labor seat I would have joined the Labor Party.”
Frankly, I was aghast at this response. Where was the conviction, the beliefs, the values that I believe should motivate our political leaders? Several follow-up questions disclosed that the only motivation for his own political involvement was for him to become Prime Minister.
Now I am all for ambition, but ambition in the absence of passion, purpose and belief is dangerous and anathema to me.
The result of this conversation was that I resolved then and there to no longer be a passive member of the political process. I wanted to engage in the battle of ideas and advocate for the values that I think are important.
Initially this was done through the organisation as State President and Federal Vice President of the Liberal Party, but it is a battle I continue today in my current role as Senator for South Australia.
Whether people agree with my views or not and whatever their political allegiance, I respect those whose argument is one of conviction rather than convenience.
Ultimately I hope that this is what the people of Australia respect too.