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The ‘True Believers’: for faith or cause?

By Greg Bondar - posted Tuesday, 28 May 2019


The 2019 federal election is over and we can all go back to our normal lives – or can we? The past five weeks of election campaigning has brought to light a number of coined phrases by both the leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) Bill Shorten and the leader of the Liberal Coalition Party (LNC) and current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

Two of the most challenging phrases that dominated the political campaign rhetoric were the terms 'True Believers' and 'Faith' with the former being the catch cry for Bill Shorten and the latter for Scott Morrison.

Mirroring the USA in their Presidential Elections, the 2019 federal election was very much about 'leadership' and 'rhetoric' as was the case with the 'It's Time' (ALP 1972) and 'Kevin 07' (ALP 2007) slogans. But let's not forget the rhetoric from the Coalition when the 'Back in Black and Back on Track' (1990s) was drummed into the electorates under Peter Costello. Did the constant reference to 'True Believers' and 'Faith' by the major Leaders show that both parties have gone back to their roots with their slogan efforts this year?

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Scripture is very clear in that it draws a very strong link between a nation and its leadership – we need to pray for "kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (1Timothy 2:2). In this respect, I argued the case as an apologist during the election campaign that it is the duty and responsibility of every Christian to vote and to vote for leaders who promote Christian principles. Candidates or policies that violate the Bible's commands for life, family, freedom, marriage, or faith should never be supported (Proverbs 14:34).

As a former Prime Ministerial adviser in the first term of the Howard government (2 March 1996) when Australia elected a coalition government ending 13 years of Labor rule, I argued that every Christian needs to be in the public arena to some extent and often challenged between drafting policies for government which were either morally or ethically questionable or in violation of biblical scripture.

Who then are the 'true believers' Bill Shorten was 'preaching' to during the election campaign? Were they 'disciples' in the biblical sense or mere 'paid-up' party members? Historically, many will recall the 1993 federal election victory speech by Paul Keating at the Bankstown Sports Club when he said, in his inimitable style,

"Well, this is the sweetest victory of all – this is the sweetest. This is a victory for the true believers, the people who in difficult times have kept the faith and to the Australian people going through hard times – it makes their act of faith all that much greater."

What did Bill Shorten say when he conceded defeat on Saturday night 18 May 2019 when he took to the stage to give his concession speech on election night? Not surprising he alluded to Keating's speech,

"I wish we could have won for the true believers, for our brothers and sisters in the mighty trade union movement."

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Did Paul Keating and now Bill Shorten refer to 'true believers' and 'faith' in the biblical sense or an ideology – a cause? I suspect with much confidence that it was the latter. Unfortunately, Shorten made 'class warfare' an issue ignoring Keating's promise that,

"It will be a long time before somebody tries to put one group of Australians over here and another over there."

The constant reference to 'true believers' was very evident in the ALP campaign. In his address at the ALP Campaign Launch in Brisbane, Shorten opened with "On behalf of every true believer, I acknowledge the great P.J. Keating." Shorten, in paying tribute to the 'true believers', was referring to an increasingly endangered species also known as traditional Labor voters: those who have a strong 'faith' in the ideals and values of the Australian Labor Party. Interestingly, the term was popularised by the 1987 television drama The True Believers, which portrayed the Labor Party after the Second World War.

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About the Author

Greg Bondar serves as the NSW State Director of Family Voice Australia. He has been working as a senior executive within the not-for-profit, government, and the corporate sector for over 30 years

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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