IN THE early evening of November 7, when many Australians might have been eating dinner and/or waiting for the ABC national news to screen, Russell Broadbent MP rose to give the finest, and most timely, address in Federal Parliament in a long time.
Broadbent is the Liberal MP for McMillan in Victoria's Gippsland.
He knows more than a bit about the ins and outs of parliament, having twice been defeated but re-gathered; this year his electorate returned him for the fourth successive time.
His speech was referred to the column; those who have read it shared the view of another reader who emailed: "The Broadbent statement is one of the best we have read for a long time. Thank you for bringing it to our attention".
Broadbent said, among other things: " ... all of us in this parliament should reflect on our relationship with the Australian people, and right now it is broken.”
“A bit of humble representation from the powers that be would not hurt. It is time for us to rise above the politics of fear and division, because our love of diversity, difference and freedom will endure".
"Our love of the rule of law, of respect for one another and of tolerance of each other will endure.
“Our love of freedom of religion, of freedom of speech and of country will endure; our love of shared values, of a fair go for all and of shared responsibilities will endure.
"We should always have empathy and consideration for those doing it tough.
“We must speak to the people in their language about the basic concerns affecting their daily lives; we are not defined by race, religion or culture but by shared political values of democracy, the rule of law and equality of opportunity - a fair go'".
Broadbent quotes Michael Gordon, political editor of The Age and former chief military correspondent of the New York Times: " ... the problem in Australia is not with the people, but a leadership more intent on making political points than expressing empathy, or pressing the case that we all gain from an open, inclusive, pluralist society, or addressing inequality, or celebrating the multicultural success stories".
Broadbent reached to the Western Bulldogs AFL premiership success to exemplify how "the vast majority of Australians fit their view of the world ... our responsibility in leadership is to bring those that feel they have been left behind to know that our intention is for all Australians to share the wealth and opportunity that this nation affords, to feel they have hope for the future and some control of their lives through representative democracy".
He quotes Labor MP, Tim Watts: "At a time of widespread institutional weakness, the (Western Bulldogs) club is a model of how to win a social licence".
Broadbent spoke about how a club that faced extinction survived and thrived by supporting all elements of a community facing multiple challenges.
In June the club celebrated World Refugee Day by hosting its 11th annual citizenship ceremony when 45 migrants and refugees from 21 countries sang the national anthem, then the club song.
Broadbent ended with: "The policies of fear and division have never created one job, never come up with a new invention, never started a new business, never given a child a start in life and never lifted the spirits of a nation".
Broadbent for PM!