In the first of a weekly series I shall explore the things about the ACT which a year in NSW has taught me are better here.
And the first one of them is Jon Stanhope.
No… wait… bear with me here. If you don’t actually have to live with the consequences of his Government Jon Stanhope is a lone flickering beacon of decency on the Australian political landscape.
Who else actually stands up for human rights, for freedom of speech, for double jeopardy and habeus corpus, even when the outcomes of sticking up for these principles are unsavoury?
The Times [The real one, not the Crimes] former editor Simon Jenkins once wrote the following which is my quote on Facebook:
- “Every age refights the Civil War in its own way and ours is no exception. Roundhead and Cavalier,
Whig and Tory, Gladstone and Disraeli, Labour and Conservative, each conflict is an echo of the original.
Every age has its own Cromwell, the man repainted, regilded, forged, twisted to suit some current purpose. The historian Isaac Foot, father of Michael, said that he judged a man by one thing, ‘On which side would he have fought at Marston Moor’, the King’s or Parliament’s.
The pendulum of politics long ago stopped swinging from Left to Right, now being stuck on Right. But it always swings from Roundhead to Cavalier. It swings from the authority of democratic institutions, defended ceaselessly and sometimes bloodily, to the corruption of over-centralised power.”
Jon Stanhope, I have no doubt, would have stood with Parliament. And, I hope, so would I. But I can’t name another leader in this country of which I can be so sure.
I have been scathingly critical of his governance in the past, and I imagine I will be in the future.
But in a way it’s somehow heartening that Canberra has thrown up a politician of such steely principle (even if we might argue that some of his principles are poorly chosen and mis-applied), and that the voters have have rewarded him for it over the years. All that despite his many refusals to play the politician’s game.
Jon Stanhope, a better leader than what NSW has got.
(Photo courtesy of last night’s ABC news)