Zed Seselja is the worst and that’s great

David Murtagh 8 July 2021 132
Zed Seselja

Zed Seselja is even out of focus in this photo. Can’t he do anything right? Photo: File.

Politicians are awesome. No matter how bad you feel about yourself, you can almost always be certain – at least in your own mind – that you’re superior in every single way to the 200-odd who sit in the Big House and rule over us.

We are all smarter than them. More moral than them. More wise than them (wiser, if you insist). More honest than them. And, seeing as we’re being honest, we’re all better looking than them. Well, better looking than most of them.

And one thing’s for sure, we’re all better than Liberal Senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja. Because he’s the worst.

This is obvious, judging from the comments accompanying the Region Media article, ‘Seselja ‘not keen’ on restoring the Territory’s right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying’.


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His ability to represent the ACT was questioned: “Way to represent your electorate, Zed.”

His compassion as well: “People should be allowed to die with dignity. If that is too hard for Zed to comprehend, maybe he doesn’t have a compassionate bone in his body.”

His ability to think for himself and his faith: “Yes, well I’m not keen at all on the Vatican deciding whether the ACT has the right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying, or anything else for that matter.”

And there was a heap of free character assessment: “He is such a joke.”

In fact, there were many, many character assessments.

Why? Because he’s a politician? Because he disagrees with perhaps (almost certainly) a majority of the electorate, but probably not the 40 per cent or so of people in the ACT who can still find a Liberal candidate on a ballot?

A common complaint about politicians is they always do what they’re told by apparatchiks, and follow the party line.

Of course, if they happen to do something we personally disagree with but the majority agrees with then they must be ‘populist’.


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They can’t win. And they’re not meant to. Especially Senator Seselja, a popular target because he happens to be an endangered species in the ACT: a conservative (which it is still legal to be, by the way, even if you’ve never met one).

Whether you agree with Senator Seselja or not – and most in the ACT probably don’t – we should welcome the fact he is prepared to stand up for a principle in which he believes, in this case that euthanasia should not be legalised.

He is, despite claims to the contrary, representing the ACT. We do not create politicians to be automatons parroting the will of the electorate. We send them to parliament to use their own judgement on issues.

To the parliament’s shame, there are few issues where politicians can exercise their moral judgement these days, be it standing up for their electorate against their party, or standing up for what they believe is morally right. In this case, when he did, half the population could barely contain their rage.

That’s politics.

Would it be better if the ACT had the power to legislate on these issues for itself? Sure would. We agree. But if you thought such a power would allow a morally abhorrent law to pass, wouldn’t you do what you legally could to stop it?

That’s what he did.

You don’t have to like it (and you probably don’t). But he should be respected for having the courage to take a stand against the majority of voters for something he believes is right. Parliament would be a better place if more people did what they thought was right as opposed to what they know to be popular.

But don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you have to like Seselja. Because he’s the worst, right?


What's Your Opinion?


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132 Responses to Zed Seselja is the worst and that’s great
cockneyreject cockneyreject 9:55 am 20 Jul 21

Maybe, but that is not our system. Politicians often depart from public opinion. Immigration levels have been an example of this. One Australian PM famously said he listened to elite opinion, not popular opinion. Many of the people who damn ZS for adhering to his principles damn other politicians for reflecting what they see as venal or populist ideas that the electorate want. Maybe the rule should be that obeying the will of the electorate is ok if the electorate is predominately white collar govt employed. But not if the read the Telegraph. Lol.

cockneyreject cockneyreject 7:32 am 20 Jul 21

We need to be realistic. Sure Zed stands out but he’s intelligent and has moral courage, and he brings this town a little bit back towards the reality of a pluralistic democracy, which obviously irks some. You want diversity, yeah? Well that’s diversity. Canberra is a government-funded, privileged enclave. Compared with the rest of the country it’s left leaning and most government institutions and, increasingly, the private consulting firms that advise them, are PC to the hilt, to the point where it’s getting a tad totalitarian.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 9:12 am 20 Jul 21

    @cockneyreject
    Your argument would hold true if we were talking about matters affecting all Australians. However, we are talking about a politician whose role, as Senator for ACT, is to represent all citizens, not just those in a particular area or demographic. While he is entitled to his own opinion, when it comes to his official role, he should follow the will of the many – not just the few, especially on matters where the majority position is clear (such as Same Sex Marriage and VAD). That’s what representative democracy is about.

babeeshka babeeshka 6:41 am 20 Jul 21

Seems to be a bigoted article assuming anyone who votes liberal is against any form of compassion or social reform. So the 40% who can still find a liberal candidate on the ballot “presumably agree with him. ” ? Basic maths fail. Support for VAD is consistently in the high 80s and is found in the majority of conservative voters and the religious.

Andrew Richards Andrew Richards 6:45 pm 15 Jul 21

Yes because when those of us with a disability are regularly prescreened and murdered in utero specifically because of our disability - based on thinly veiled versions of the "useless eaters" and "killing is a kindness" arguments of the Nazis (which were the ideological pillars of the Nazi Euthanasia Program), this wouldn't at all be exploited to murder those of us with a disability in the exact same manner.🙄

Oh and for those who don't know what I'm talking about, here's part 1 of a 5-part history lesson, given at an international symposium, by a UN-recognised expert on the Nazi Euthanasia Program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVVNPAvCfH0

So much for #neveragain. #disabledlivesmatter

rhinoneal rhinoneal 6:30 pm 15 Jul 21

Look no further than the same sex marriage vote to understand exactly where Zed stands when it comes to reflecting the views of his constituency. The highest affirmative vote in the country – 74%!
Yet he sees fit to abstain from the vote!
In fact it was reported at the time that he was seen “scurrying” out of the House before the doors were shut in order to activate the vote!

GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 9:07 pm 13 Jul 21

@Robert Chisholm 4:34 pm 10 Jul 21
“He is standing up for what HE believes in. Not what the common person wants. He is in essence working for us, not HIS personal beliefs.”
I have to confess I don’t follow your logic. If polls show that the majority of ACT residents are in favour of VAD, how is Senator Seselja voting against allowing the ACT Assembly to debate VAD legislation working for us? Isn’t he stifling said debate because of his beliefs? I look forward to hearing from you, how Senator Seselja is working for me.

GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 8:35 pm 13 Jul 21

@Fran Corby-Moore 4:31 pm 10 Jul 21
“I don’t know where I stand on this issue but I’m glad we have people on both sides of the debate and thankful for people like him. This means we get to hear all the pros and cons and if something like this is passed we have considerations and wording that ensures it is not abused.”
The issue is, Fran, the Senator Seselja does not want the matter even debated in the ACT. So we don’t get to hear the pros and cons – we simply get to have him enforce his opposition by his failure to support legislation which would allow the ACT Assembly to debate VAD legislation.

Peter Bee Peter Bee 5:12 pm 13 Jul 21

The author of this tripe chooses to ignore that zealots like Zed are the reason that the LIBS are unelectable at the lower non Fed level.

Frank Waters Frank Waters 3:50 pm 13 Jul 21

Rot. He should respect views of electorate. He is a public official not a private citizen

Mikey Moore Mikey Moore 10:30 am 13 Jul 21

Tim Hodge this article missed the point completely. Just like the senate frustratingly did last time they debated this, the author spins this as a debate on the morality of euthanasia rathan than a debate on the reduced democratic freedoms of territorians.

    Tim Hodge Tim Hodge 12:14 pm 13 Jul 21

    100% agree, one throwaway line that it's somehow okay to restrict self-government if there's an issue you oppose?

Tina Shooks Tina Shooks 5:42 am 13 Jul 21

He's there to stand up for what his constituents want, not for his personal, or religious, beliefs.

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 9:46 pm 12 Jul 21

He's meant to stand up for his constituency, not himself.

Alana Matthews Alana Matthews 4:45 pm 12 Jul 21

I hate this guy

Rohan Fox Rohan Fox 10:27 pm 11 Jul 21

The question is does he represent the views of Canberrans who vote liberal, or the views of conservative wing liberal party members who preselected him? Gary Humphries was always a much more popular Liberal Senator with the electorate. The problem with your article, clever as it is, is it is pretty much a free pass to do anything. I’ve always thought trite and wrong the argument that just because you vote someone in, they always represent your views. No, it just means we think you were marginally better than anyone else, not that we agree with everything that you do. I know a lot of people who vote liberal, but aren’t socially conservative. Zed represents the socially conservative wing of the right wing party, in one of the most socially liberal electorates in Australia. Zed should be worried if Canberra finds it’s version of Zali Steggall.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:09 pm 12 Jul 21

    I thought I had some fanciful ideas I occasionally post but your “Zali Steggall” one tops all I have put forward.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 9:35 pm 13 Jul 21

    CapitalRetro – I’ll keep that one (“I thought I had some fanciful ideas I occasionally post …”) for future reference 😉

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:36 am 14 Jul 21

    Relax GrumpyNark, I’m not about to challenge your status as the leader in posting fanciful ideas.

James Vetos James Vetos 9:08 pm 11 Jul 21

He should be standing up for what the majority of people want. A modern society needs a dignified way for people to die. His personal opinions mayst little. And his disappearing act at voting time is getting a little old...

Oiledpengu Oiledpengu 7:40 pm 11 Jul 21

So you can’t have your own beliefs now? If you don’t agree with my views then you need to be personally attacked.

Christopher Rumley Christopher Rumley 6:13 pm 11 Jul 21

It's not about his beliefs. He is there to represent his constituents!

GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 5:52 pm 11 Jul 21

Interesting article, David.
While you obviously are a champion of Senator Seselja, you have conveniently ignored one of the basic tenets of democracy – political equality of all citizens.
Senator Seselja has been elected to represent the people of the ACT at a federal level. However, when it comes to matters relating to the ACT, Zed Seselja is just another citizen, and as such, like any other eligible citizen of the ACT, he is able to vote to elect the members of the Assembly who are charged with determining legislation for the ACT. No doubt like most other ACT citizens, Citizen Seselja casts his vote for those he believes will represent his views in the Assembly – absolutely his right.
Then once the election outcome is determined, the legislators democratically elected to the ACT Assembly by the citizens of the ACT should be able to debate and determine legislation for the ACT (including on VAD) without being second guessed by the Feds.
You justify Senator Seselja’s position by stating that he has used his ‘power’ to stop “a morally abhorrent law” from passing. That is flawed logic, as:
a) he has not stopped the law from passing – he has stopped the democratic process to debate the law from taking place in the ACT; and
b) your labelling of the potential legislation as ‘morally abhorrent’ is inflammatory and editorialising … there are many who would consider it moral bankruptcy to deny an individual the right to choose to die with dignity.
Fortunately, while ACT citizen Seselja can ensure his views on VAD are forced on the people of the ACT and NT, there are seven other democratically elected legislatures that are able to consider the matter on behalf of all citizens under their jurisdiction without interference from the Feds.

    chewy14 chewy14 7:08 pm 11 Jul 21

    Except as provided for by our laws, the Feds are the ones responsible for legislating on this issue as they are for many other areas of government.

    You think the ACT government should be able to legislate on this issue but don’t say exactly why. Should local councils be able to legislate on these types of things also?

    You also ignore the fact that this issue has been legislated on by our democratically elected government. Whether you or I like that outcome or not is irrelevant.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 10:55 pm 11 Jul 21

    Yes Chewy14, enshrined in the legislation that gave ACT and NT self government was the capacity for the Feds to override legislation passed by those jurisdictions. Under the Constitution, the Feds can’t do the same to state legislation. In 2018, (then) Senator David Leyonhjelm introduced a bill into the Senate to remove the federal ban on the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory legislating for euthanasia. Senator Seselja voted against that bill. No doubt he will vote the same way if Senator Sam McMahon includes the ACT in her proposed bill. So he has denied the citizens of the ACT and NT the same right as citizens in the states (i.e. the right to have their democratically elected representatives debate and vote on VAD legislation). You do know that the NT actually did pass legislation legalising euthanasia in 1996 before the Feds overrode the legislation, don’t you? So your mention of local councils in this matter is an irrelevant smoke screen.

    chewy14 chewy14 3:55 pm 12 Jul 21

    Grumpymark,
    No my mention of councils is a legitimate comparison around levels of government and the powers given to each. One that you conveniently ignore.

    “So he has denied the citizens of the ACT and NT the same right as citizens in the states (i.e. the right to have their democratically elected representatives debate and vote on VAD legislation).”

    Once again ignoring the point. We have democratically elected representatives who have debated and legislated on this issue. At the federal level as defined by legislation and the constitution as you’ve said.

    We aren’t a state, which is why our legislative assembly doesn’t have the power of one. Just because you or I don’t like the outcome of the democratically elected governments legislation is irrelevant.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 6:24 pm 12 Jul 21

    Unless I’m mistaken, Chewy14 (and I’m sure you’ll correct me if I am) no council government has the power to legislate on the same matters as the ACT and NT Assemblies. In Australia we have 3 levels of government as described by the Parliamentary Education Office (https://peo.gov.au/understand-our-parliament/how-parliament-works/three-levels-of-government/three-levels-of-government-governing-australia/):
    “- federal Parliament—makes laws for the whole of Australia
    – 6 state and 2 mainland territory parliaments—make laws for their state or territory
    – over 500 local councils—make local laws (by-laws) for their region or district.”
    Do you see that the territories are under the same level as states and have the right to legislate in the same areas as the states? Furthermore, the chief minister represents the ACT Government as a member of the National Cabinet – which Mayor or Lord Mayor is a member of the National Cabinet? So I trust you now understand I didn’t “conveniently ignore” the powers given to the ACT Assembly. Next you infer that I “don’t like the outcome of the democratically elected governments(sic) legislation”. Actually, the matter I am challenging is Senator Seselja’s failure to support legislation to allow the Territories the right to debate and vote on legislation on VAD, that is within their scope of power (as evidenced by the NT law on Euthanasia). The question before the Feds, was not whether or not to allow VAD in the Territories, it was whether or not to allow Territories to consider VAD legislation – without a majority vote of both houses of the federal parliament overriding the enactment of the legislation if passes. So it’s about ACT citizen Seselja voting against legislation that would have given his fellow ACT citizens the same democratic rights as citizens in the 7 states – i.e. to have legislation considered, debated and voted on by their elected representatives.

    chewy14 chewy14 10:31 pm 12 Jul 21

    Grumpymark,
    Except as I’ve explained, there is no different democratic rights. We aren’t a state and for very good reason, yet we still have a democratically elected government which has legislated on this issue and could chamge that legislation if it was supported.

    Even your link, which has no real standing outlines how responsibilities are shared.

    And it’s perfectly reasonable for the Senator to not want to consider piecemeal legislation on legislative rights for one single issue.

    He’s outlines that he would be more supportive of a wider territory rights bill but that’s not what is being proposed.

    “So it’s about ACT citizen Seselja voting against legislation that would have given his fellow ACT citizens the same democratic rights as citizens in the 7 states – i.e. to have legislation considered, debated and voted on by their elected representatives.”

    As above, we already have legislation that has been considered and debated on by our democratically elected representatives. You just don’t like the outcome so you want to override the constitution and the legislation that has covered the issue.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 7:38 pm 13 Jul 21

    While I accept and respect your right to oppose VAD, Chewy14, I’m not prepared to accept your right to falsely represent the truth to support your opposition.

    You assert that the Feds considered legalising VAD for the ACT and voted it down – which is a complete falsehood.

    No government in Australia has ever considered legislation to allow VAD or euthanasia in the ACT. Under the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 – Section 23 (1A), the Assembly “has no power to make laws permitting or having the effect of permitting (whether subject to conditions or not) the form of intentional killing of another called euthanasia (which includes mercy killing) or the assisting of a person to terminate his or her life“.

    The Senate (including Senator Seselja) voted against legislation which would override that section and ALLOW the territories to make laws on VAD. The subtlety of the difference may be lost on you, but the Feds do not pass ACT or NT legislation.

    While it is likely that had the Senate vote been in favour of allowing the ACT consider such legislation, it would have passed in the ACT Assembly (given its composition at the time), that proposition has never been tested.

    So while it suits your position on VAD if Senator Seselja continues to prevent the matter being debated in the ACT Assembly, I do not see how anyone can consider it to be anything but stifling democracy in the ACT.

    There is a groundswell around Australia for the matter to be considered (some legislatures having already passed such legislation). The one solace for those of us who lament the loss of the ability of the ACT Assembly to consider VAD legislation, is that eventually, like those who opposed same sex marriage, opponents of VAD will be disappointed.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:12 am 14 Jul 21

    Grumpymark,
    You clearly haven’t read my comments if you think I oppose VAD.

    In fact I heartily support it, as I’ve commented multiple times here.

    “You assert that the Feds considered legalising VAD for the ACT and voted it down – which is a complete falsehood.”

    This is not what I’ve said. I said they have considered the issue and legislated on it. They have.

    My entire point is that the we have different levels of government and the appropriate democratic body in charge of the issue for the ACT has considered and legislated on it.

    We are not a state and we do not have the rights of a state for very good reasons. There is nothing slightly undemocratic about that as my example around council powers shows.

    If you want to argue that the ACT should have the powers of a state, you should be arguing that we have robust systems of governance and can handle the issue (and any other reasons you might want to put forward).

    But a look at the long term performance of self government in the ACT should dissuade anyone currently from the idea that our governance structures are up to the task.

    This has nothing to to with a single issue and in fact the single issue focus actually proves how incapable our government is. This issue is around our governance structures and why it’s much better for these types of issues to be controlled at a Federal level for a small, immature territory.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 8:28 pm 14 Jul 21

    @Chewy14
    You support VAD, yet you also support Senator Seselja voting against repealing The Andrews Bill – which would enable the NT and ACT to legislate on VAD. That’s either counterintuitive (as the two seem mutually exclusive) or unconditional loyalty (to Senator Seselja).
    You still don’t seem able to grasp the fact that the Feds have not actually voted on legislation to legalise VAD in either the NT or the ACT – they have, each time the matter has been raised voted, to not allow the territories to pass legislation on the matter. That’s an important difference – as the territories have the power to enact legislation, it’s just that the Feds can override any legislation.
    The point I’m making is that the issue of the territories being able to enact such legislation has been considered, reconsidered and may be reconsidered again (the proposed McMahon Bill) – i.e. it will not be dropped, despite the fact you think it’s over.
    All that’s needed for the ACT to consider VAD legislation, is the repealing of The Andrews Bill – and legislation is repealed in pretty much every session of any parliament. So I am confident that at some stage in the future (and it may not be until Senator Seselja has left) the Feds will vote to repeal The Andrews Bill.
    I’ve chosen to ignore your ludicrous introduction of local councils to the discussion. There’s a reason The Andrews Bill did not include local councils – there is no provision for local councils to pass any legislation (and bylaws are not legislation), let alone legislation on VAD, as it is not their role under the definition of the three levels of government in Australia – which while you dismissed it earlier does co-join the states and territories under the second tier.

    chewy14 chewy14 7:54 am 15 Jul 21

    “That’s either counterintuitive (as the two seem mutually exclusive) or unconditional loyalty (to Senator Seselja).”

    Or the third option where you didn’t read my comment that explains exactly the reasons.

    “You still don’t seem able to grasp the fact that the Feds have not actually voted on legislation to legalise VAD in either the NT or the ACT”

    Except they have because you would agree its illegal right now wouldn’t you? Hmmm, wonder why that would be?

    Perhaps because there is a law that was drafted, debated and legislated that makes it so?

    As I’ve said above, the government does not need to debate a specific piece of legislation on every single small issue for that issue to have been considered.

    “The point I’m making is that the issue of the territories being able to enact such legislation has been considered, reconsidered and may be reconsidered again (the proposed McMahon Bill) – i.e. it will not be dropped, despite the fact you think it’s over.”

    I don’t think anything is “over”, I think that under the current government, it is extraordinarily unlikely to change. The good thing about our system of government is we get to vote and lobby to change both government’s and laws over time.

    “The Andrews Bill did not include local councils – there is no provision for local councils to pass any legislation (and bylaws are not legislation), let alone legislation on VAD, as it is not their role under the definition of the three levels of government in Australia – which while you dismissed it earlier does co-join the states and territories under the second tier”

    I didn’t ignore it, your explanation wasn’t correct. If there are 3 levels of government, where is the ACT’s third level? The ACT is not equal to the States.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 9:39 am 16 Jul 21

    “ Except they have because you would agree its illegal right now wouldn’t you? Hmmm, wonder why that would be?”
    Actually chewy14, you have just confirmed my argument. Yes it is illegal for the ACT pass legislation on VAD (on two fronts) but if those two pieces of legislation are repealed then the ACT Assembly would have the power to legislate on VAD. To follow your “… law that was drafted, debated and legislated …” logic, had the Leyonhjelm motion passed, VAD would be legal in the ACT. Not so, it would have merely given the ACT (and NT) the power to decide such legislation. You correctly state the ACT is not equal to the states, and I have never said that, I have said the territories are grouped under level 2 government WITH the states. Oh by the sun at, that wasn’t my explanation, it came from the Parliamentary Education Office – the body which has hosted thousands of school kids in Parliament House over the years, and has provided that very same comparison to those school kids. So forgive me if I choose to accept their expertise in this area over yours.

Tracy Gorman Tracy Gorman 5:45 pm 11 Jul 21

And this reporter isn’t biased at all is he? 🤔🙄

Zed is a politician, who represents the community he’s elected in. Sorry, MEANT to represent the community he’s elected in. He clearly can’t bring himself to do that over his religious beliefs. He needs to go.

Kunal Chaturvedi Kunal Chaturvedi 3:16 pm 11 Jul 21

And yet Canberra's keep electing him.

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