A letter to Joe Hockey

A letter to Joe Hockey asking him to hold true to his values and support marriage equality.

From: Michael Barnett <mikeybear69@gmail.com>
Date: 14 September 2012 01:18
Subject: A letter on an important issue, for your consideration
To: Joe Hockey MP <j.hockey.mp@aph.gov.au>

Dear Mr Hockey,

Please find attached a letter for your consideration.

I hope you have the time to afford a frank, personal and most importantly considered response.

Michael Barnett.

September 14, 2012

Dear Mr Hockey,

Sixteen years ago this week, on a Tuesday afternoon in Canberra you delivered your first speech to the house.  Please allow me to take you back to that day.

You spoke of wanting to make a difference:

I am in Canberra today because I want to make a contribution to the future of Australia.

You told us about your connection to the ANZACs who fought in Beersheba.  You spoke of a country with a proud heritage and a strong connection to this past, and of leadership:

Our leader, General Harry Chauvel … had no choice but to infuse these young men with the belief that the future of the free world lay in their hands.

You told us why they were fighting, what it was they were putting their lives at risk for:

Their charge was more than courage. It was more than defiance against oppression. It was an act of pure faith in the future—and perhaps our finest illustration of that quality that we call the Australian spirit.

You quoted former Australian Prime Minister, George Reid on respect and vision:

There is no country in the world where the people are less paralysed by reverence to the past. There are no people in the world who have fewer fears for the future.

You pondered the connection between the ANZACs and those yet to be born Australian, and told us of the eternal nature of the spirit these brave men upheld:

One might ask what relevance that charge on Beersheba has on the Australians of today. I feel proud to be able to stand here and tell you that its spirit can still be touched by every Australian. I feel proud to think that future generations can have that same defiant spirit surging through their veins.

We heard you tell us never to give up, never to accept second best:

In many ways, Beersheba defines what it is like to be an Australian. To believe in yourself, to believe in the seemingly insurmountable, and to challenge the future.

You spoke of the uncertainty of the future, of changing attitudes and changing values:

Mr Acting Speaker, that future is all around us. The new millennium is approaching at a blinding pace and change is occurring exponentially. I suppose it is understandable for many that this change might be accompanied by growing uncertainty and angst. After all, family life is under increasing social pressure. Long accepted practices and traditions are constantly being questioned.

And then you spoke of the ideology you brought to public office, the ideology you believed would offer a way forward:

Perhaps many of us have forgotten the lesson of Beersheba. That is why I come to this parliament with the inherent belief that the answers to the challenges of the future lie in modern liberalism.

And told us of the values most important to you:

In an age where closely held beliefs and political ideology are frequently scoffed at, I wish to place on record the principles of modern liberalism that I hold dear. These include, firstly, the recognition of the inalienable rights of the individual; secondly, a belief in parliamentary democracy; thirdly, a commitment to improve our society through reform; and, finally, equality of opportunity for all of our citizens.

We heard about the formalisation of individual rights and the government’s place in securing this:

The first principle which recognises the rights of the individual was expressed in 1689 by the father of liberalism, John Locke. He wrote that the very substance of government should be the protection of individual rights, including specifically the rights of life, liberty and property.

And about social justice, liberty, disadvantage and giving a voice to those who were without one:

Despite the work of liberal and social philosophers such as Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill and Jean Jacques Rousseau, it was not until the end of the 19th century that the concept of social justice was introduced by John Dewey. He wrote that liberty is that secure release and fulfilment of personal potentialities which take place only in wide and manifold association with others. As part of the privilege of enjoying our individual rights, we have an obligation to protect and enhance our community. That includes helping the disadvantaged, caring for the sick, speaking for the voiceless and protecting the weak.

Then you told us about “new and improved”:

The third principle of modern liberalism is our belief in reform. Liberalism has traditionally steered a course between the extremism of the far Left and the reactionary conservatism of the far Right. Liberalism is most comfortable when it is developing new ideas and setting new goals.

And how important equality was to you:

The final finger on the hand of modern liberalism is the classic doctrine of equality of opportunity.

You spoke of your disdain for discrimination, of wanting to ensure future generations were free from it and of how this is a fundamental principle of the Liberal Party:

We cannot afford in our modern and complicated world to tie the hands of our children before they are born, because discrimination from the cradle will lead to discrimination until the grave. Equality of opportunity is a part of modern liberalism that will be most aggressively defended by my Liberal Party. It is the reason why so many of my colleagues in the class of 1996 are here from all parts of Australia. That is what I believe in; that is modern liberalism.

We heard of opportunity, human dignity and how important it was for you to involve your electorate in your journey:

A true Liberal was described by Sir John Carrick in 1967 as someone who was always concerned about the welfare of the individual, for the creation of opportunities, for the preservation of human dignity and the development of human personality. I have no doubt that these modern Liberal principles will benefit all Australians in the days ahead. Most particularly, I want to ensure that the electorate of North Sydney has a prominent role in defining that future.

You spoke of impediments to equality by way of the struggle for women’s rights:

One of these challenges is in the way our community continues to treat women. We should abandon the politically correct platitudes about equality, and honestly acknowledge that there remain entrenched societal and institutional impediments to women’s equal and active participation in either or both the home or work communities.

You spoke of generosity:

The Jesuits have taught me the value of community service and the spirit of giving.

And intellectual rigour:

And my friends and legal colleagues at Corrs Chambers Westgarth have taught me the lessons of professionalism, intellectual discipline and sheer hard work.

You spoke from the heart about your values, and those of Australians past, and their sacrifices, and their spirit:

Over the days of my career I am sure that the principles I hold dear—such as integrity, honesty and loyalty—will at times be sorely tested. But, at those times, I will recall the deeds of the men of Beersheba. I will recall their courage and their fortitude. I will recall the sacrifices that they made for our nation. And I will recall that great Australian fighting spirit.

And in closing you told us of your desire to do the best for all Australians:

Together with the support and encouragement of my colleagues and the inspiration and direction of modern liberalism, we will all begin our journey. We will charge our Beershebas and we will rebuild them—and this we will do for our children and for the generations of Australians ahead.

Mr Hockey, the values and vision you brought to office on September 10, 1996 were exemplary.

In having just relived your afternoon 16 years ago I now ask you to consider your position on marriage equality.  Please keep reading.

Last December you said:

JOURNALIST: Do you support same sex marriage?


JOURNALIST: So if there was a conscience vote you would be voting against it?


JOURNALIST: What are the reasons behind your thinking on that?

JOE HOCKEY: I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman.

You are entitled to your beliefs, but Mr Hockey, in light of what you said in your maiden speech, about your grandfather who fought in Beersheeba alongside the other ANZACs, fighting for a free Australia, how can you justify this position?

You told us about Australia being a place of opportunity for all citizens, of having new ideas, of vision, of equality, of human dignity and of fighting oppression.

You spoke of the need for a defiant spirit, of reform, an opportunity for all of our citizens, for protection of individual rights and challenging the future.

You invoked the sacred legend of the ANZAC.  You related their sacrifices and spoke of their spirit.

You spoke of questioning long accepted practices and traditions.

You spoke of the obligation to protect the community.  Denying those who are not attracted to the opposite sex the same rights as everyone else further entrenches the belief that we are less worthy.  This attitude has been proven to contribute to worse mental health and welfare outcomes for us.  How is your position on marriage protecting the community in light of this?

Mr Hockey, I ask you how you can stand up before the people of North Sydney, of whom in 2010 69% were not opposed to marriage equality (49% “in favour”, 31% “against”, 20% “don’t care”) and say that you are representing their interests.

How can you honour the ANZAC legend when you uphold the removal of individual rights, liberty and equality?

Mr Hockey, I implore you to rethink your position on marriage equality.  When you stand up as a representative before the people of North Sydney, and the people of Australia, and in the absence of intellectual rigour you subscribe to a position that is against the majority of your electorate and against every value you hold dear, you are not only just betraying yourself but you are betraying the values of the Liberal Party and the values of the entire nation, and in the worst possible way.

Mr Hockey, be generous.  Support marriage equality.

Michael Barnett.

6 thoughts on “A letter to Joe Hockey”

  1. Oh excellent young man. In your transcript he also said that discrimination in the cradle leads to discrimination for life – well, we’re born gay, so the discrimination starts there and so now he’s compounding it. But what can you expect from a Jesuit indoctrinated man? Nothing except slippery reasoning and a willingness to sacrifice others for the Jesuit cause. They have no ‘souls’, no individuality, no humanity; all indoctrinated followers of religions become the unthinking pawns of their religious leaders. I might s well ask my hens to queue for their food, as ask him, or any other religiously trained person, to think outside their religious prescription – as you’ve noted with fundamentalist rabbis. But nice try.

  2. Reblogged this on mutterings and commented:
    Yet another excellent bit of research into the public uttering of our politicians, contrasting them with how they really behave.

  3. This could be the 2nd in a long series, to politicians whose behaviour today doesn’t measure up to the standard set by his or her idealistic maiden speech.

    Nice work, Mikey. I hope it convinces Joe Hockey to stand up for what he used to believe in.

  4. I don’t know if a person can be gently tenacious but it seems to me you are! Politicians swear on the Hypocritical Oath the moment they decide to pursue a political career!

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