A rollicking political and social history across time and this vast country, presented by Heather Ewart.
Runtime: 60 minutes
A Country Road: The Nationals - John Anderson (Australian politician) - Netflix
John Duncan Anderson (born 14 November 1956) is a former Australian politician. He served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Leader of the rural-based National Party of Australia from July 1999 to July 2005.
A Country Road: The Nationals - Political career - Netflix
In 1989 Anderson was elected to the House of Representatives as MP for the rural seat of Gwydir, at a by-election following the resignation of Ralph Hunt. Handsome, well-educated and well-spoken, he made an immediate impression in the National Party, and was appointed to the Opposition front bench in 1992. In March 1993 he was elected Deputy Leader of the National Party. When the Liberal Party under John Howard won the March 1996 elections and formed a coalition government with the National Party, Anderson became Minister for Primary Industries and Energy. In 1998 he shifted to become Minister for Transport and Regional Development. When Tim Fischer retired as National Party leader in July 1999, Anderson was elected party leader without opposition and thus became Deputy Prime Minister. He inherited a party with its electoral base in a long-term decline and facing a series of difficult policy challenges. There were some doubts that his urbane image was appropriate for a rural-based party. Among the issues facing Anderson as National Party leader were the Liberal Party's desire to privatise the state telephone company, Telstra, which many rural Australians feared would lead to higher charges and reduced services. Anderson succeeded in delaying any action on this until an inquiry had been held, and until a guarantee could be given that there would be no reduction in services. Anderson’s greatest achievements were in the areas of transport reform, with the creation of the AusLink national transport policy, in farm management through the Agriculture - Advancing Australia package and the establishment of property rights in the nation’s water management system. Nevertheless, at the 2001 federal elections, the National Party lost three seats, two of them to independent MPs, while the Liberals gained seats. As a result, the party had to give up a place in the coalition Cabinet formed after the elections. During 2003 there was speculation that Anderson would soon be quitting politics, but in September he announced that he would stay and fight the 2004 election. Despite a coalition victory, the National Party lost a further seat in the House of Representatives. The party did however pick up two seats in the Senate. In September 2004, independent federal MP Tony Windsor claimed that he had been approached by a figure associated with the National Party with the offer of a diplomatic position in exchange for retiring from his seat of New England, which he won from the National Party in 2001, at the 2004 election. In November speaking under parliamentary privilege, Windsor said that it was Anderson, and National Party Senator Sandy Macdonald, who had made the offer, through an intermediary, Tamworth businessman Greg McGuire. Anderson, McDonald and McGuire all denied the claims. In the end, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions found that there were no grounds to lay any charges under the Commonwealth Electoral Act, thus exonerating Anderson. In June 2005 Anderson announced that he would resign from the ministry and as Leader of the Nationals in mid- July citing a “debilitating but thankfully benign prostate condition” and other personal concerns. The prostate condition was also described as a stress-related prostate condition, prostatitis. “Men need to talk about these things,” Mr Anderson said in an interview. In the House of Representatives on 23 June, after Anderson's announcement of his intention to resign, members from all sides of politics, led by the Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley, praised his personal qualities and integrity. Mark Vaile, his deputy, succeeded him as Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister. He remained as Member for Gwydir, retiring from politics before the 2007 election. On 13 June 2011, Anderson was named an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the Parliament of Australia, particularly through support of rural and regional communities, transport development, and water management initiatives. In 2014 it was revealed in the ABC programme A Country Road: The Nationals that some time before the 1998 Federal election, Anderson then the deputy leader of the National Party had met with then National Party leader Tim Fischer and former minister John Sharp for a luncheon and were surprised to learn from each other that they all intended to retire at that forthcoming election. All three of them did not think it was a good idea for all of them to retire at the same time as it did not give a positive image to the party which is battling against perceptions that it does not have a certain future. In the end only Sharp retired, with Fischer and Anderson delaying their own retirements by successfully recontesting the aforementioned election. Prior to the 2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, Anderson was interviewed on ABC television where he spoke about marriage.
A Country Road: The Nationals - References - Netflix