I WAS filled with hope when I first heard that John Anderson was putting his hand up for the Senate.
Watching the ship of state listing badly to the green-left, the prospect of the former Deputy Prime Minister injecting gravitas and common sense into that august chamber of review felt like a lifeline was being thrown.
With no ambition to usurp Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Anderson was simply putting his hand up for pre-selection with his old party to serve his nation once again.
Channelling John F Kennedy, he told The Australian’s Greg Sheridan back in March: “This is not a lifestyle choice for me or Julia (his wife). We are a team and we always have been. We just feel that at this time you ask not what you’d like to do but what you can do.”
This speaks volumes about how John and Julia Anderson see the state of our nation.
Anyone who has followed his podcast “Conversations” at JohnAnderson.net.au will know he has accurately diagnosed the decline of the West and what we must do to turn things around.
“You can’t get good public policy from bad debate,” he keeps saying.
Restoring trust, personal responsibility and civility are common themes he explores with eminent guests from here and around the globe.
He also talks eloquently and courageously about unfashionable topics such as fatherhood.
Jordan Petersen, John Howard, Geoffrey Blainey and Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey are some of his recent guests.
Yesterday his interview with the North Korean escapee Yeonmi Park dropped. It was difficult not to become emotional listening to Anderson draw her out on how she escaped the starvation, poverty and mind control of that evil regime.
Her observation that our woke elites show similar tyrannical impulses should have alarm bells clanging loudly.
Anderson seeks to shift the public discourse to where it should be, away from the dominant Western civilisation-loathing identity politics and cultural Marxist themes emanating from the ABC, academia and the mainstream media.
This was a big opportunity for the NSW Nats to win back large swathes of their base which have drifted to the Shooters and Fishers Party.
They are disillusioned with woke Nats politicians plumping for abortion-to-birth laws and euthanasia instead of fighting for rural and regional Australia.
The prospect of a statesman in the Senate reminding us of the truth of our history and, by his example of grace and civility showing what true debate is, seemed too good to be true.
And yesterday’s pre-selection proved it was.
Instead of choosing Anderson, the NSW Nationals went for a former party hack in former State Director Ross Cadell.
Cadell’s short reign oversaw the disastrous 2019 NSW State election where the Nats lost four seats and almost cost Gladys Berejiklian government.
He then left his job with the party organisation to become a lobbyist for the Port of Newcastle which is half owned by the Chinese Communist Party-controlled China Merchants Group.
No doubt the CCP saw advantage in having a former political insider as their chief door opener in Macquarie Street.
The China Merchants Group is a key player in the CCP’s Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to use control of infrastructure like ports to tie nations to Beijing’s nefarious agenda.
Either Cadell will use his inside knowledge of China Merchants Group in the Senate to urge the disentangling of one of our most strategic assets from the CCP, or he will be an apologist for this most compromising of commercial deals.
The NSW Nats could have put into the Senate someone who sees with crystal moral clarity the threat of the CCP but instead chose a former lobbyist for a company they control.
What were the Nats thinking?
It goes to show the power of the party’s faceless men, or the swamp, as former US President Donald Trump used to call the elites who pull the strings in the political establishment.
The NSW Nats long-ceased to stand up for conservative values.
They led the charge for the abortion-to-birth laws in the NSW parliament in 2019 and state parliamentarians like Trevor Khan are some of the loudest voices seeking to include suicide as “healthcare” via euthanasia.
These forces didn’t want an articulate pro-life, pro-family statesman representing them in the Senate.
I must admit I did wonder how Anderson would beat the swamp. I’d picked up chatter that some senior Nats did not like Anderson’s “sermons” – a reference to his podcasts.
With the Liberals also purging Christians, these are tough times for those seeking to see people of principle and character populating mainstream political parties and ultimately parliament.
Australia needed Anderson. Unlike Trump, Anderson can prosecute a conservative agenda with grace, and this makes him even more potent – even as a backbench Senator.
That’s why the swamp circled the wagons.
Lyle Shelton is Director of Campaigns and Communications for the Christian Democratic Party. The Reverend Honourable Fred Nile MLC has nominated Lyle to succeed him in the NSW Parliament when he retires in November. To keep in touch with Lyle and the CDP, sign up here.