Scott Morrison has urged Australians not to surrender to “identity politics” and the forces that undermine the community, declaring freedom rests on “taking personal responsibility”. In a speech outlining his values and beliefs, the Prime Minister launched an impassioned critique of the “growing tendency to commodify human beings through identity politics” and elevated the necessity of viewing “people as individuals with agency and responsibility”. Speaking at a United Israel Appeal NSW donor dinner in Sydney, Mr Morrison set out his vision of morality, community and personal responsibility in the modern world while warning that reducing individuals to their attributes would end in division and a broken society.
“We must never surrender the truth that the experience and value of every human being is unique and personal,” he said. “You are more than your gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion, language group, or age. “All of these contribute to who we are and the incredible diversity of our society, but of themselves they are not the essence of our humanity. “When we reduce ourselves to a collection of attributes, or divide ourselves on this basis, we can lose sight of who we are as individuals, in all our complexity and wholeness. We then define each other by the boxes we tick or don’t tick rather than our qualities, skills and character. “Throughout history, we’ve seen what happens when people are defined solely by the group they belong to, an attribute they have, or an identity they possess. The Jewish community understands that better than any.”
Journalist and Managing Director at Adoni Media Lisa Goddard says “we’ve all been waiting on Scott Morrison to show some leadership on the relentless attacks of identity politics on broader society. We need some common sense,” Ms Goddard said. Mr Morrison will use the speech, titled “You Matter: The responsibility of citizens in building community to achieve national success”, to frame the values that will guide his government ahead of the next election, due by May next year, and draw a contrast with the Labor Party. “My message is simple: you matter, you make the difference, you make community,” he said. “Together with family, marriage and association, clubs, community groups, faith networks, and so much more these combine as the further building blocks of community, providing the stability and sinews of society that bind us to each other.”
The speech follows his address to the Australian Christian Churches conference last week in which he cited the works of the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks to discuss faith, morality and identity politics in comments that triggered a fresh debate about his religious views as the nation’s first Pentecostal Prime Minister. Speaking before Jewish community leaders Steven Lowy, Lance Rosenberg and Jillian Segal, the acting ambassador of Israel Jonathan Peled, Employment Minister Stuart Robert and government MPs Dave Sharma and Julian Leeser, Mr Morrison again cited Rabbi Sacks on the “covenant of community”. He said this was about “not leaving it to another” and urged Australians to re-frame their thinking on rights, arguing that citizens should be contributing more to society than they expected to receive back from it.
Sky News host Paul Murray says people who have doubts about Australia’s leadership will “feel a whole lot better” after the prime minister’s speech affirming his belief in the Judeo-Christian principle of “inherent human dignity”. “That is the moral responsibility and covenant of citizenship, not to think we can leave it to someone else. “There is a warning though. Where we once understood our rights in terms of our protections from the state, now it seems these rights are defined by what we expect from the state. “As citizens, we cannot allow what we think we are entitled to, to become more important than what we are responsible for.” Mr Morrison said “human dignity” was at the heart of the Judeo-Christian tradition underpinning modern Australian society and was also foundational for freedom in a liberal democracy. “Everything else flows from it,” he said.
“Seeing the inherent dignity of all human beings is the foundation of all morality. “It makes us more capable of love and compassion, selflessness and forgiveness. “Because if you see the dignity and worth of another person, you’re less likely to disrespect them; insult or show contempt or hatred for them; or seek to cancel them, as is becoming the fashion of some. You’re less likely to be indifferent to their lives, and callous towards their feelings.” Mr Morrison said Rabbi Sacks had concluded in his final work Morality that “if you lose your own morality, you are in danger of losing your freedom” as he sought to elevate the Liberal Party’s core value of individual responsibility. “Liberty is not borne of the state but rests with the individual, for whom morality must be a personal responsibility,” he said.
There is a real “degrading of people of faith” from those on the left and in the commentariat which often manifests itself in attacks on the prime minister, according to International Development Minister Zed Seselja. “Freedom therefore rests on us taking personal responsibility for how we treat each other, based on our respect for, and appreciation of, human dignity. “This is not about state power or market capital. “This is about morality and personal responsibility. Morality is also the foundation of true community.” Amid rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and China’s increasing efforts to disrupt democracies, Mr Morrison also said “we stand as a sovereign and free nation in an increasingly uncertain part of the world”.
He said community “matters” in a democracy. “It’s a source of strength, that’s why foreign actors seek to sow discord online, by inflaming anger and hatred, and spreading lies and disinformation. “The right to disagree peacefully is at the very heart of democracy, but democracy is also a shared endeavour, and civility, trust and generosity are the currency that mediates our differences.” Mr Morrison reflected on Australians coming together through the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters. “I’ve been incredibly heartened to see people show the best of us this past year, the heroic virtues of our people,” he said. “Through drought, bushfires, floods, cyclones and pandemic, Australians have found ways to support and stand with each other, checking in on each other, keeping jobs open, volunteering, helping neighbours with their shopping.”
Source: Compiled by APN from media reports