New South Wales MP for Riverina Michael McCormack was today elected National Party Leader at an early morning partyroom meeting, winning a ballot against George Christensen, the exact numbers were not disclosed. He was later in the morning sworn in by the Governor-General as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. For the present time he is keeping his previous portfolios of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel.
Today the leftist media and social media chatters have been quick to dig up an old story in an attempt to demonize McCormack. McCormack was a journalist before entering politics and was the Editor of the Daily Advertiser in Wagga Wagga from 1991 to 2002, appointed at just 27. In 1993 in a ‘From the Editor’s Desk’ column he criticized homosexuality for its part in the AIDS epidemic that had gripped Australia at that time for the past decade.
It was titled ‘Sordid homosexuality – it’s becoming more entrenched’ and began by saying ‘A week never goes by anymore that homosexuals and their sordid behaviour don’t become further entrenched in society’. He also criticised homosexuals’ demands for rights when they were showing no responsibility “How can these people call for rights when they’re responsible for the greatest medical dilemma known to man – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome?’
The column is strong in language for sure but the facts are not wrong, even in the present day 85% of the new HIV infections in Australia are acquired by men who have sex with men. Most HIV/AIDS activist groups in Australia are apart of the LGBT rights lobby with most of their focus on the sexual health of gay men.
The column had already surfaced during the Marriage Law Postal Survey campaign in August 2017 for which McCormack issued a grovelling apology stating his views had “changed quite significantly” since and that “I have grown and learnt not only to tolerate, but to accept all people regardless of their sexual orientation or any other trait or feature which makes each of us different and unique”.
He was the Minister responsible for the Australian Bureau of Statistics during the Survey and mainstream media reporting at the time appeared to imply his 1993 editorial would somehow see him interfere with the counting and final result of the survey. McCormack voted in favour of the same sex marriage legislation when it was before the House of Representatives in December 2017 in line with the yes vote for his electorate.
Despite his apology, yes vote and not being entirely wrong in the column it didn’t stop the left raging all day. LGBT rights activists claim they are “justifiably concerned” that he is now Deputy Prime Minister. Just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome appeared to engage in moral blackmail by stating that if McCormack was really sorry then “He needs to get behind initiatives that will reduce the unacceptably high levels of LGBTI isolation, prejudice and suicide that still exist in some parts of rural Australia”.
Christine Forster called the column “abhorrent”. Even conservative commentator Andrew Bolt believes the column should count against McCormack’s leadership qualities in the present day.
It would appear with the left no matter how many times you say sorry if you are conservative whatever remarks you made in the past stay with you for the rest of your life. McCormack’s capitulation would appear to achieved nothing and might even alienate some of the National Party base who thought the column wasn’t completely without merit.
But of course today’s confected outrage over McCormack’s 25 year old column is irrelevant in judging him in his new role as Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister. The real challenges McCormack faces is can he be as strong a leader for rural and regional Australia that his predeccors were? Can he unite the National Partyroom behind his leadership and the party’s coalition with the Liberals? These are the questions McCormack should be facing today.