An open letter to The Hon. Warren Truss, MP and the Senators for Queensland

An Open Letter

To the Hon. Warren Truss, M.P., Member for Wide Bay, and

Senators the Honourable Ron Boswell, George Brandis, Mark Furner, John Hogg, Joesph Ludwig, Ian Macdonald, Jan McLucas, Brett Mason, and Senators Sue Boyce, Claire Moore, and Larissa Waters, Senators for Queensland.

January 9, 2014

To my elected representatives:

I am respectfully, and urgently requesting that each of you places on the public record your agreement, disagreement, or personal position relative to the extreme views and beliefs recently broadcast by Senator Cory Bernardi, Senator for South Australia.

I understand that not every statement by every private citizen requires or deserves a public statement from you, and neither does every statement by another elected representative. However I believe Senator Bernardi’s remarks deserve and require a response.

I am requesting this response from you for two reasons: firstly, because of the significant attention received by Senator Bernardi’s remarks in the Press and online both nationally and internationally, and secondly because of the almost total silence from you, my elected representatives.

As my elected representatives I believe I have the right to request your response, and I see no reason why that response should not be public.

I would like to make it clear that I have no concerns with Senator Bernardi’s rights as a citizen of Australia to say or publish anything that is permitted by Australian law, and I do not want or intend that you or I infringe on those rights.

My concerns arise because Senator Bernardi is not just a private citizen, but an elected representative of the people of South Australia, an endorsed member of the LNP, and member of the government. Some of the views and beliefs in his recently published book he has also broadcast from the floor of the Senate as a member of the Senate, of the LNP, and of the government

Although this request is to all of my elected representatives, it is directed particularly to those of you who are also members Senator Bernardi’s Party and of the government, for the following reasons:

  1. Senator Bernardi was not elected as an independent, but as an endorsed member of the LNP.

  2. The large majority of South Australian voters who voted “above the line” on the Senate ballot accepted not only the LNP’s endorsement of Senator Bernardi, but also the LNP’s estimation of his value and importance as a member. You placed him first, and therefore the most likely LNP Senator to be elected in South Australia.

  3. Senator Bernardi has held a number of important positions within your Party, including Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Population Policy, and Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate. Although Senator Bernardi no longer holds these positions, this further indicates his importance in your Party.
  4. The LNP has a long and proud tradition of independent thought and speech; Senator Bernardi has used that freedom to speak, I am requesting that you also use that freedom.

  5. The LNP and government also has a collective position or formal policy on many topics and policies, and unless you, as my representatives, distance yourselves from Senator Bernardi’s remarks it can be reasonably inferred that you either agree, or do not disagree sufficiently with his position to say so.

  6. The parliamentary leader of your Party and the Prime Minister of Australia, who is also responsible for Women’s Issues and for whom Senator Bernardi previously worked, has made no substantive response to Senator Bernardi’s statements.

I am therefore urgently requesting that you clearly identify your own position relative to Senator Bernardi. In particular this does not mean repeating the Prime Minister’s observation that, as a backbencher, Senator Bernardi does not speak for the Party. That is a self-evident truth, and does not leave me any the wiser as to whether the Party, the Prime Minister, and you, my elected representatives, agree with Senator Bernardi, disagree with Senator Bernardi, or have no position on these issues.

I want to know.

I would also urge you to request that your leader, the Prime Minister, urgently explain to the Australian public what his and the Party’s position is on Senator Bernardi’s views.

I would reiterate that if you and the Prime Minister remain silent on this issue the only inference that can be drawn is that you either agree with Senator Bernardi, or disagree so little that it doesn’t require a response, or that you regard what he has said as unimportant.

I believe that what he has said is important, and I am anxious that you tell me clearly what your position is, rather than remaining silent and leaving me, and the Australian public guessing.

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,

(signed)

Peter Barnes

Voter, Electorate of Wide Bay

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