One of the great parliamentary champions for families and the Judeo-Christian ethic, Ron Boswell (left), will leave the Senate next Thursday after 31 years.
His retirement will leave a big hole as he is a rare breed of principled public leader.
It is hard not to like the big man from Queensland.
He can be feisty in a debate but he has a heart of gold.
I know this because I had the privilege of working for him briefly as a staffer for eight months before I joined ACL.
ACL is of course non-party partisan but I hope you will indulge me because honour is due here.
I will have something to say in next week's blog about the good people from Labor who are leaving the Senate when their terms also end on June 30th.
But Ron has been a unique character.
Fiercely loyal to his beloved National party, having been mentored by former Queensland premier the late Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen, Ron is someone who had genuine respect from his political opponents.
This was evidenced by the large number of Labor and even Greens members (his most fearsome sparring partners) who were in the Senate chamber for his valedictory speech on Tuesday.
One of the few parliamentarians unashamed to stand up for the human rights of the unborn, he showed that causes unpopular with the media and political elites could be championed without jettisoning political credibility.
When the Parliamentary Group on Population and Development said in 2008 that Medicare funding of abortion was needed because the birth of disabled babies would be a drain on the disability services budget, Ron went to the defence of the defenceless.
In a speech to the Senate, he said this was reminiscent of the "Hitler regime". It is hard to argue with that.
His Liberal Senate colleague, Alan Eggleston, resigned his membership of the PGP&D in protest to the group’s submission. Senator Eggleston, who also retires next week, was born with a condition that has left him short statured. He too will be missed.
Ron was a tireless champion for marriage and family and of course small business and primary industries.
I dropped by his Senate office an hour before his speech. "There'll be something in it for you guys", he said referring to the Christian constituency.
And in typical style Ron didn't disappoint.
There was hardly a dry eye when he told how much he missed his late son Stephen and then went on to say how he drew strength from God.
"In the Senate, I have always sought guidance and help from my God, and I acknowledge He has always had a guiding hand on my career. In the parliament of Australia, in the assembly of His people, I have always received constant help, and I offer my thanks."
I don't think Ron would mind me saying this, but I'd sometimes walk into his office and find him reading his Good News Bible, a permanent fixture on his desk.
He finished his speech quoting St Paul.
"My time of departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight. I have run the race. I have kept the faith.’ Thank you very much. God bless and goodbye."
ACL is very grateful for parliamentarians like Ron Boswell. We wish him and Leita all God's blessings for their future.
A transcript and Youtube clip of Senator Boswell's speech is available here.
Here, Senator Boswell gives his views on why Australians are not in favour of same-sex marriage.
52,000 PETITION SIGNATURES OPPOSE GAY MARRIAGE
“It’s obvious that there is a strong feeling in mainstream Australia to support the existing definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman,” said The Nationals’ Senator Ron Boswell.
Senator Boswell tabled 52,000 signatures petitioning the Senate to defend this definition of marriage and not to permit recognition of any other form of relationship to be considered equal to marriage.
“The Greens called for feedback from the electorate on gay marriage and here is mine,” said Senator Boswell.
“Tens of thousands of Australians care enough to have signed this petition and that is a strong indication that there is significant opposition to changing the legal definition of marriage.”
“While many Australians support an individual’s private choice of partner, they do not want the uniqueness and essential character of marriage between a man and a woman to be changed.”
“It is not homophobic to respect the existing definition of marriage. It is respecting the foundations on which society is built, particularly the rights of children to a mother and father wherever possible.”
“Non-discrimination against same sex couples can co-exist with a commitment to children being born of and reared by a father and a mother in an unchanged definition of marriage.”
“International human rights law reflects this rational distinction. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides: 'The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognised.' The Covenant asserts: 'The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.'”
Senator Boswell said that the Greens had picked a fight on the issue of gay marriage purely to create divisions in the ALP and hive off the left wing vote. “The sooner Labor puts the Greens last on preferences and recognises that they are an extreme and destructive force, the better off Australia will be.”