Campbell Newman is not a wowser. I know this because he addressed an ACL forum last week, and he told the forum that he is not a wowser. Parts of the evening’s forum were replayed on 612ABC Brisbane the following morning. You can listen here.
I thought it was an unusual decision for a mainstream political leader to address the ACL: the ACL is about values voters: those people who will make up their minds based entirely around issues of morals, ethics, and religion. We know where the ACL stands; their website is specific. Their agenda is strictly conservative Christian.
The ACL is headed up by two people: National Managing Director is retired Brigadier Jim Wallace. Wendy Francis is the ACL’s Queensland Director. Both are outspoken in support of Christian values, and both have become the object of media ridicule in recent years. It’s fair to say that while their followers know them as lobbyists for Christian values, they are better known for their apparent lack of both media nous and Christian compassion.
You’d remember Jim Wallace’s infamous tweet from last Anzac day:
@JimWallaceACL Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for - wasn't gay marriage and Islamic!
And from Wendy Francis, while she was a candidate for the Senate in 2010’s Federal election:
@Wendy4Senate Children in homosexual relationships are subject to emotional abuse. Legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse.
But back to the issues: I have trawled through the ACL’s website today, trying to understand their policies and get a handle on what they really stand for. The ACL has no interest in separating religion and government separate; in fact, they lobby hard to have government reflect the values of their version of Christianity.
In fact, the only issues they care about are what we’ll call “Christian Issues”. There’s nothing there about the environment, the economy, foreign relations, security, agriculture, health or anything else, except as it relates to the protection of Christian values. That’s fine, I don’t have an issue with that when it’s from a lobby group. It would be a different can of tuna if the ACL managed to get a candidate elected on the single Christian Values platform, without addressing the numerous other issues on which that candidate would be entitled to vote.
So it’s obvious that voters who favour the policies of the ACL are values voters – specifically, Christian values voters, and that’s it. But if you line up the positions of the ACL against their conservatives on the right, is there really any difference?
A quick cross-check of ACL and LNP sees them agreeing on all kinds of values issues, from gay marriage to the presence of religion in our schools to internet censorship, abortion and surrogacy. This is common ground.
When Campbell Newman addressed the ACL forum last week, he wasn’t talking to a group of average voters, hoping he could sway them to the right. He was talking to a group of far-right voters, hoping he could sound conservative enough to satisfy them.
Yes, in taking on the issues of the ACL, Campbell Newman has taken just a step to the right.
Aren’t the parties all neatly lined up in a row? Doesn’t a step to the right leave a gap?
You bet it does.