Every few generations or so, the world throws up a political figure of such determination, such integrity, such presence and charisma, that the nation can do little but lay back and submit to his will in a sort of euphoric admiration. The sort of man who doesn’t let anything stand in the way of doing the right thing — not the government, not popular opinion, not democratic principles, not complete ignorance of what he’s doing — not anything.
Senator Steve Fielding is such a man. A simple man in many — perhaps even most — ways, but a man who, having spent much of his life dedicated to making a difference and contributing to society, decided at some point to instead enter the Australian Senate.
So what do we know about the man who now bestrides the political world, frustrating the Government and altering the course of our nation with the quiet self-confidence that can only come from a mandate granted by almost 0.1 per cent of the Victorian electorate?
Steve Fielding had a humble upbringing. As one of 15 children, he comes from a long line of people with no sense of human decency, and so his affiliation with the Pentecostal movement was a natural progression. And it was here that he learnt the three core tenets of the Christian faith:
1. God wants you to be rich
2. God wants you to gain elected office and influence public policy
3. CDs are $24.95
Fielding was elected to the Senate as a candidate for the Family First party, a party that is strongly pro-families and strongly anti-people-who-are-not-in-families. "Family First, everyone else can go to Hell", that’s their motto, repeated loud and long at their regular drunken orgies. As such, the party pushes hard for a severe crackdown on non-family-affiliated folk, like orphans and those who have lost all their relatives in plane crashes. This is just one of the ways in which FF has earned its status as "the Party Who Cares".
There is a vicious rumour doing the rounds that Family First is somehow a "religious" party. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a family party, and when it comes to politics, the term "family" is no closer to the term "aggressive religious fanatics" than "National Party" is to the term "redneck". The rumour is, clearly, merely a scurrilous tactic dreamt up by the leftist media in an attempt to distract people from Senator Fielding’s reformist legislative agenda.
Oh how the leftist media likes to paint its ominous pictures of decent people like Steve Fielding! How they twist and distort and menace us all with visions of Australians having to conform to a terrifying Hillsong ideal! The leftist media would like to instil in us such a fear of being transformed into a nation of demented happy-clappy Christian lunatics, spending all our time singing along to horrible power ballads about giving yourself up to the Lord while clenching our fists in front of ourselves as if we’re clean-and-jerking an invisible barbell.
But that’s not what Senator Fielding is about. As his website states, he is "fair dinkum about making life easier for ordinary Australians and their families". And isn’t that refreshing? It’s about time there was a political party in this country willing to talk about ordinary Australians, with the major parties fixated as they are on the outstanding and abnormal. And you don’t even have to be an ordinary Australian to benefit from FF’s generosity — you only have to be related to one!
Fielding also wants a "fair go for pensioners", an end to the "bank fee rip-off" and the "pokies plague", and to "help the homeless". (Let the homeless find families first, and then we’ll talk.) And his policies don’t even end there — "Cash for Trash", "Fighting for Farmers" — who said politics wasn’t fun? Say what you like about weirdo Christians, they know the value of rhyme and alliteration.
Of course, the reason Fielding is hitting the headlines this week is his decision to vote with the Government to raise the Medicare levy surcharge threshold and increase the tax on alcopops. This was remarkable because he had previously refused to vote for the legislation, bravely standing up for the Aussie battler in the form of private health insurance companies, just as Jesus would have. Yet now he has had a change of heart, possibly after being visited by angels in the night, which is nothing more than a continuation of the freewheeling, off-the-cuff, devil-may-care, don’t-really-understand-my-job approach that Fielding brings to all his endlessly entertaining shenanigans.
And of course that impish sense of razzle-dazzle is at the heart of Fielding’s most powerful political weapon: stunts! In his time in parliament, Senator Fielding has taught us all that there is no pressing social crisis so bad that it cannot be solved by wackiness. Do we need to recycle more to avoid being suffocated under an enormous pile of garbage? Uh-oh, I guess it’s time to prance about outside Parliament House dressed as a beer bottle! Problem… solved.
His zany escapades know no bounds: take off your shirt for pensioners; push around a tiny trolley for grocery prices; call for amendments to the luxury car tax and then vote it down without suggesting any. Outrageous!
I can’t help thinking that in our modern obsession with "policy" and "process" and "thought", we’ve forgotten the virtues of good old-fashioned insanity. Maybe, just maybe, we could all use a dose of Senator Fielding’s jolly Christian dementia in our lives. In these times of panic and despair, when questions abound and answers spring but scarcely from the stony ground of leadership, what’s wrong with rolling up our sleeves, knuckling down, and acting stupid?
You didn’t want him. You didn’t vote for him. You don’t have the slightest idea what he’s talking about. But you need him, now more than ever. We all do.
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