Address to the Salt Shakers Farewell Dinner, Melbourne

***Check against delivery***

This evening allow me to acknowledge the owner of our Nation – the God of the Bible.

And it is appropriate we do so as we give thanks for Salk Shakers inspirational work for those that helped found, drive and promote Salt Shakers for two decades – and especially Peter and Jenny Stokes.

In a society seemingly desperate to renounce the roots of its rich and rewarding culture, Salt Shakers stands out as a beacon reminding us that the freedom and wealth we enjoy as a society – as a Nation – is not because we are a “lucky country” but because we are blessed – blessed by our Judeo-Christian roots and foundations.

As Salt Shakers (the organisation) winds down I trust that we, as individuals at this dinner, will take the opportunity to reassess ourselves and ask “What can I do to be the salt that is desperately needed? Can I be more active on Facebook, Twitter, letters to the Editor, braver in discussions with my family, friends and work mates? Do people know what I believe and why?”

Salt Shakers and its personnel give us a role model to emulate.

A model which proclaims the Gospel fearlessly in truth and love. Even in circumstances where one is howled down and indeed shut down by people who are the self-appointed purveyors of tolerance.

The Christian faith which Salt Shakers proclaims is the same world view on which our Nation was built – as was the rest of the Western World – you know that part of the world which is allegedly horrifically bigoted, intolerant and worthy of ridicule and loathing by most of our commentariat – yet surprisingly is the destination of choice for people fleeing communism, fascism, ISIL and poverty.

The indisputable positive impact of Christianity on our world has been well and truly documented and that is why it’s worth fighting for.

Be it from the Indian thinker, Vishal Mangalwadi, in his book, ‘the Book that made your world’ subtitled ‘How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilisation’ to Alvin Schmidt’s ‘How Christianity Changed the World’ to our very own national treasure, Professor Geoffrey Blainey’s ‘A Short History of Christianity’ which because of its brevity only runs to over 600 pages – they all document the hugely civilising impact that Christianity has had on the development of the Western world.

In the ancient, medieval, and modern worlds the Christian ethic elevated standards of morality, halted infanticide, enhanced human life, emancipated women, abolished slavery, inspired charities and relief organisations, created hospitals, established orphanages, and founded schools.

Christianity almost single-handedly kept classical culture alive through recopying manuscripts, building libraries, moderating warfare through truce days and providing dispute arbitration.

It was Christians who invented colleges and universities, dignified labour as a divine vocation and extended the light of civilisation.

Christian teaching advanced science, instilled concepts of political and social economic freedom, fostered justice and provided the greatest single cause of inspiration to the magnificent achievements in art, architecture, music and literature that we treasure to the present day.

The reality is that today’s secular morality could hardly have been possible without the Judeo-Christian ethic that has influenced generation after generation.

In short, no other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation, movement, whatever has so changed the world for the better as Christianity has done, to quote Alvin Schmidt.

Ours is a religion, ours is a tradition, ours is a world view for which we should be rightly thankful.

It is a world view from which many of its critics unknowingly draw upon.

The current atheistic attitude is to seek to prove that everything Christian is somehow bad. That Christianity is the source of every evil in the world.

Yet these atheists or indeed anti-theists would do well to ask where their views are actually founded. I’m sure they would be surprised if not horrified.

Take separation of Church and State as an example often argued by atheists. It is a wholly owned Christian idea and concept NOT a secular view in its origins at all.

The Good Lord told us to render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s.

St Augustine saw the City of Man and the City of God.

Or take Human Rights. As one wag from the Institute of Public Affairs put it – many human rights activists think human rights sprang forth with a “virgin birth” in the mid twentieth century.

However the truth be known – the concept of human rights is founded in the belief we are – each one of us – uniquely and wonderfully made in the image of our Creator God and as such have God-given rights which no government has the right to take from us. Hence the central role of Christianity in the fight to abolish slavery.

Even those earlier Greek and Roman societies which had a form of democracy – usually had an equality for members of the particular elite with a society sustained by slaves.

As OS Guinness observed:

“The plain fact is that no free and lasting civilisation anywhere in history has so far been built on atheist foundations.”

Despite this truth many are seeking to revile and renounce our Christian heritage without having a coherent replacement world view.

Too often those of us in the Parliament of the Christian faith are asked to leave our faith at the doors of Parliament House. Ever noticed how atheists aren’t asked to leave their world view at the doors of Parliament House?

As a legislator I try to encourage good behaviour and discourage bad behaviour.

My concept of good and bad is based on my morality which in turn is based on my world view. I, for one, am happy to advocate for the Judeo-Christian world view as the best for society and individuals.

When those seeking to condemn the Judeo-Christian world view are asked – “What is your substitute?” there is a stoney silence. Sadly, neither is there any consistency.

For example – Those that loudly advocate for quotas and equal representation of the sexes because of the distinct, different and diverse views brought to Parliament, the judicial benches or the boardrooms argue just as vehemently against the need for this distinction, difference and diversity when it comes to the most important role in society – the socialisation of the next generation. So despite all their rhetoric it seems two males can do as good a job as a male and female. The one social institution which had a quota from the very beginning of one man and one woman is now to be trashed.

These days we are told that sex is “only” a biological status and one’s real status is determined by one’s gender which is to be solely determined by one’s self. If that is actually, truly the case then the appointment of a biological female may in fact result in the appointment of a gendered male or one of the 100 options in between of which we have recently been told.

And if that isn’t enough, the push is on to indoctrinate our children with these corrosive views as early as primary school through the very unsafe Safe Schools Programme. Secondary students don’t miss out either. The Marxist architects of this pernicious programme believe it’s a good idea to have pre-pubescent Grade 7 girls sharing toilets with fully matured Grade 10 or even Grade 12 males.

Sadly, we have countless examples of such society corroding programmes and campaigns.

Those of us offering the alternate view point are constantly being howled down, misrepresented, stereotyped and threatened – all I’m sure you will appreciate in the name of “tolerance” not only by our stated opponents but the so-called mainstream media.

A media which has largely lost its objectivity and search for truth.

Countless examples abound and I for one can provide many personal experiences – but the bias, pejorative terminology and ridicule all emanate from what I have previously described as most of the media’s negative sentiment override when it comes to the conservative point of view and even more so the Christian conservative point of view.

Negative sentiment override is when you cannot see any good in what the other does.

So if your spouse makes you a cup of tea on arriving home it must be because a new pair of shoes has been bought blowing out the credit card. Or the presentation of flowers is covering up an affair.

So, conservatives who want to stop the boats can only possibly be motivated by cruelty – wishing to make a miserable life even worse. The fact that the motivation finds its genesis in the desire to put criminal people smugglers out of business, stop drownings at sea and allow an intake of refugees based on need – not on capacity to pay criminal people smugglers is just not even contemplated.

If you acknowledge the self-evident and fundamental yet complementary differences between male and female you must be a misogynist rather than someone that celebrates diversity.

If you support the millennia old and all-cultural definition of marriage requiring the male and female component as the best institution for socialising the next generation you are motivated by homophobia NOT because you want the best for our children.

The examples abound. On top of those examples are the not so subtle portrayals in the media.

You’ll read many a time about alleged “hard” or “extreme” right wing elements in the Coalition. Ever notice there is apparently no “hard” or “extreme” left in the ALP or the Greens.

Recently there were two stories immediately underneath each other in a local paper dealing with the truly horrid revelations from the Child Abuse Royal Commission. The top story told you immediately in the first line the allegation was against a teacher in the private sector.

The next story – also involving a teacher – required you to read to the very last paragraph to learn this criminal was undetected in the State school sector.

Or note how Cardinal Pell is treated in relation to suggestions he should’ve known about goings on in his seminary whilst left wing journalist Paul Bongiorno who was there at exactly the same time is fully excused and believed when he, like Cardinal Pell, says he saw, and knew of nothing untoward.

But friends, there is hope. We can all make a difference – for good – if we allow ourselves to be available in His service.

A favourite inspirational story of mine is that of Abraham Kuyper. Yes, I’m from the Reformed Church.

Abraham Kuyper was a distinguished everything – academic, journalist, theologian and Prime Minister of Holland.

He started life as a minister of religion – by way of profession rather than confession.

On landing his first congregation he sought to meet one on one with all his parishioners.

Detecting his lack of faith and commitment, one lady parishioner said to another she wouldn’t waste her time meeting with him.

Long story – but highly motivating and encouraging – but long story short.

The other lady convinced the first lady that a meeting might just be the opportunity for the conversion of this young newbie Abraham Kuyper.

And so the meeting and conversion occurred.

Just a little word of encouragement by one person to another can lead to a chain reaction for good beyond our wildest expectations.

So, it might be your letter to the Editor – even if it doesn’t get printed that gets a journalist thinking, or your Facebook post, or a discussion with a work colleague.

Friends, remember we aren’t called on to succeed – although that is always nice to witness. We are called to serve, not necessarily to succeed.

This year my morning devotions are informed by world renowned author Patrick Sookhdeo’s devotional book “Heroes of our Faith” which recounts individual case studies of Christian service and suffering including a martyred lowly Christian slave’s witness which changed a family and village.

Whilst we have the opportunity, let’s dedicate ourselves and use the freedoms with which we are blessed. Should you require an example or role model – you need look no further than Peter and Jenny Stokes of Salt Shakers.


About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

Read more


136 Davey Street
Hobart  TAS  7001

(03) 6224 3707