Letter to Phillip 

One Man's Web > Politics and Ethics > Australia and the refugees > Letter to Phillip
Posted June 29 2003

 Dear Mr Ruddock,

I was struck an article in the Bulletin, probably more than 20 years ago, which I have always remembered.  It was about you, an up and coming federal politician.  As a young member of parliament you were well respected and liked.  You were seen as a potential cabinet minister even then, and your interest and skill in the area of immigration was well recognised. 

I was shocked some 10 years ago to meet a friend in the street in Adelaide.  This Liberal colleague of yours had aged visibly and was jaded and scarred it seemed by his time in the Senate.  His scarring indicates what serving the country can do to a person. Sensibly, he has left.  You are still there.  And Phillip Adams writes in the Australian this week end, 

Is there a sadder, sorrier, figure in our political landscape than the Honourable Philip Maxwell Ruddock, BA LLB? What’s happened to the bloke – what he’s allowed to happen to himself – is somewhere between farce and tragedy and symbolises what has happened to Australia. What Australia has allowed to happen to itself.

He says "Ruddock earned one’s admiration by crossing the floor over an immigration issue. It was the sort of ethical stand you’d expect from someone who placed avowed Christian values ahead of party preferment." That Ruddock had guts and principles that could be admired.

He says you have "crossed the floor again – this time back to the hard line and hard-liners of Howardism. It wasn’t enough to simply conform to the mixture of Palaeolithic and neo-conservatism. Ruddock had to overdo it by orders of magnitude. He had to be the toughest of the tough guys."

 Who knows what you live with, and what drives you. I cannot pretend to know.  But Crikey's label “The Cadaver”, and Nicholson's blue faces ring true.  You look haggard.  Your energy has gone.  You parrot again and again the government hardline unmerciful mantra of half truths and lies about refugees... "illegals" and queue-jumpers who  feign depression for sympathy.  You could only be described as one who has zealously prosecuted the "policies of mandatory detention, involving the imprisonment of hundreds of children,"  with a "ruthless and inflexible imposition of unprecedented cruelties on innocent human beings...." 

In the church in years gone by, clergy and others were prone to lecture people on the state of their souls.  I think that involved a lot of manipulation and the misuse of power. But Mr. Ruddock, perhaps you should pay attention to the state of your soul.  Phillip Adams said yesterday “What does it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his immortal soul?”  The sad fact is that this is where you seem to be.  The contrast between where you were and where you are is so startling as to be a tragedy.  The Ruddock of years ago would never have done these things. Go back while you have time.

Yours sincerely


Andrew Prior (Rev)

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