John Anderson, Australia’s former Deputy Prime Minister and former leader of the Nationals Party, has put himself forward for pre-selection with the Nationals in the Senate in New South Wales. If successful, his name will be on the ballot at the upcoming federal election.
Anderson has the support of Nationals leader Michael McCormack, and he affirms that he has no intention of upsetting the party. Rather, he hopes to offer his experience to help advise and mentor the party’s leadership, having expressed concerns about the direction of the Nationals — and more so, the future of Australia.
There is no incumbent in the backbench role sought by Anderson, meaning that whoever is pre-selected is all but guaranteed to win the Senate seat. The Nationals will formalise their candidate in June.
John Anderson, who is now in his mid-60s, left politics in 2007. Since that time, he has remained a respected figure in Australia — in recent years particularly through his cultural commentary series Conversations with John Anderson.
If anything, Anderson’s profile has grown, both in Australia and globally, since interviewing high-profile thinkers like Jordan Peterson, Peter Hitchens and Douglas Murray. John Anderson’s YouTube channel has attracted around 13 million views since its launch in 2017.
Anderson is well known for his love of and advocacy for rural and regional Australia. But among the other concerns he would hope to address on a return to public life is identity politics. This has doubtless been shaped by his insightful Conversations series.
“What you’ve had is a winding back of an understanding and adherence to the traditional sort of political mainstream philosophies, and their overtaking by identity politics,” Anderson told the ABC in an interview this week.
When pressed by the host what issues he was referring to with the label “identity politics”, Anderson replied,
“They’re there every day. Read the newspapers, listen to the ABC… people know exactly what they are, and they’re very frustrated with it.”
He went on:
“The 70 or 80 per cent of Australians who live in the middle are crying out for a higher standard of public discourse.”
What John Anderson describes is a growing sense across the Western world that many of the priorities of our elite classes — politicians especially — do not truly represent the concerns of ordinary citizens. In fact, with restrictions on speech and conscience increasing in the West, a new class warfare appears to be emerging, which has been the source of much heat and little light.
For those who have followed John Anderson, it’s evident that this silver-crested sage will have an enormous amount of light to shed on these issues in Australian public life — with the political credentials to back him.
Welcome back, John Anderson.