Mike Lowe recently commented:
Matt, I'm intrigued. A few months back the memoirs of the late Kim Beazley Senior were published (Father of the House, Fremantle Press). Since then the book has had a number of major reviews in the Australian Book Review, the Australian Literary Review, Quadrant etc, almost all of which have majored on Kim's Christian faith.
For example, former West Australia Premier, Geoff Gallop writes "In many ways, Father of the House is a personal account of the relationship between politics and religion as seen through the eyes of a believer." And Ross Fitzgerald in the ALR writes: "he made a decision to concern himself daily with the challenge of living out God's will. As he put it 'to turn the searchlight of absolute honesty on my motives. To try to see the world with the clarity of absolute purity. To take absolute love as radar through the fog of international affairs."'
Yet as far as I know the Christian media has ignored this book. What does this say about the concerns of Christian communities in Australia? I know that nowadays politicians who espouse a Christian faith are two-a penny, but during Kim's 32 years in politics this was far from the case. And how many of today's politicians can claim, as Kim does, that while in the interest of party unity he has sometimes voted against his better judgement, he has never voted against his conscience.
I'd be interested in your take on this. If you want access to some of the reviews (or the book itself) let me know.
My take is I had not heard of it till Mike mentioned it.
What about the rest of you Aussie readers?
2 thoughts on “The Faith of Kim Beazley Senior”
Thanks Matt, I wonder if this is another sign of the retreat of Christianity from the public sphere. Beazley Snr was in Federal politics for 32 years, all but three of them in opposition. As Minister for Education he was responsible for the short-lived Whitlam Government’s most enduring reforms in terms of Aboriginal advancement and public funding for education. His memoirs are about politics, but through the lens of a Christian world-view.
In one of your previous posts you (rightly) point out that separation of Church and State is not at all the same as separating religion from politics. I think it is really important that more of us try to grapple with the complexities and messiness of political life, but from a Christian perspective. Kim Beazley’s book is a great example of someone who tried to do this at a time when it took some considerable courage to bring your faith into parliament. Indeed Beazley’s career most certainly suffered because of this.
Incidentally, another great review of the book appeared in the Canberra Times on 16 May (unfortunately I can’t find it online)
I have just seen Mike Lowe’s comments on your website. I helped Kim Beazley Sr bring together material for his memoirs. It was clear that his Christian faith was fundamental to his politics. He writes of his approach when he became Minister for Education in 1972: ‘I had a clear underlying aim: that the needs of every child should be met – children in state education and private schools, gifted children and handicapped, wealthy children and poor. As a Christian, no lesser aim made any sense.’ He persuaded the Cabinet to support a needs-based system of Government support for schools, whereby schools were rated according to their need, and supported accordingly, whether they were state schools, Catholic schools or others. When he was awarded an honorary doctorate by ANU in 1976, the citation stated: ‘Mr Beazley’s greatest contribution was the healing of an ulcer that has festered in our society for close to 200 years. Sectarian bitterness, which focused on schools and their funding, was dealt a death-blow by the needs-based funding which Mr Beazley introduced.’