Why Angry Anderson Became An ALA Senate Candidate

Paul Zanetti

May 6, 2016


Like most of my generation I grew up watching Countdown every Sunday night. The front man for Rose Tattoo didn’t seem like the sort of bloke you’d want to stumble into, down a dark alley late at night, even at my size.

If you happened to grow up in Melbourne’s Coburg in the 1960s, and if you were so inclined to speak your mind to a no-nonsense stranger, shorter in stature, who you may have considered to be an easy target you had best been able to handle yourself.

Chances were you’d end up in a pub brawl with the volatile whirlwind they called the ‘Angry Ant’.

He doesn’t dwell on it, but his abused childhood defines the man he is today.

Gary ‘Angry’ Anderson is a survivor. He prefers the word ‘survivor’ to ‘victim’ because the survivor has beaten the demons. For most of his young life Anderson carried both the demons of domestic violence ("from my biological father”) and the demons of paedophilia.

“I was sexually abused from the age of five.”

"As a kid, through to middle age I internalised it. I never dealt with it or knew how to deal with it. I escaped into a world of drugs, alcohol and rock and roll. My life got out of control."

So when I first saw Angry in the Midday Show green room (where all the guests hung out before going on air) back in the 1980s I was quite content to mind my own business at the other side of the room. Angry bounced over to say "g’day" and started a chat.

Pretty friendly bloke for a wild rocker bad boy whose reputation preceded him, I thought.

But behind the Angry persona there’s a Gary, as his mum prefers to call him. The anger has died, but not the passion.

He credits the change to getting married in the early 1980s to Lindy ‘Lou’ and the birth of his daughter.

“I had to change, for my daughter’s sake.”

Then came the three boys.

Angry Anderson realised to change he needed to get professional help.

“I started attending therapy which helped me understand the angry, dysfunctional person I’d become. I needed to deal with my anger, which I’d never done before. I would go off at people for no fault of theirs. The therapy helped me to deal with the root causes of my anger.”

"And it was around this time I started working with socially disadvantaged kids. I recognised myself in them. I related to their pain. I recognise pain.

“Around this time, too, I was asked to be a social reporter for the Midday Show with Ray Martin, then later Derryn Hinch and then A Current Affair, which opened up new opportunities to widen my scope of social work.

Working with handicapped and disadvantaged kids, especially, has become a life mission for the one time wild man.

He’s now as widely known - and loved - for his years of charitable work as he is an Aussie rock icon, now bestowed with a Member of the Order of Australia, 'in recognition of service to the community, particularly as a youth advocate'.

His work includes amassing an army of volunteers for constructing a playground for handicapped kids in 48 hours, assisting drought affected farmers with reserve feed, organising Christmas presents for socially and economically disadvantaged kids, building respite units for people living with and affected by HIV AIDS and delivering artificial limbs for Cambodian land mine victims.

Among other charitable acts, he’s played at the Bali Relief concert in Perth in aid of the Bali bombings, and involved in the Dunn Lewis Youth Foundation, a lasting legacy of two of the 88 Australians lives lost in the bombings amongst.

Recently Anderson has become more outspoken for his political views, driven by a deep concern for his country and the creeping agendas he sees undermining the fabric of the country he loves.

In 2007 he criticised those who arrive in Australia yet refuse to become part of an open, integrated society.

“It’s not ill-conceived to look at certain people and question when they come out here what they bring with them,” he told The Daily Telegraph in 2007

"We have strict quarantine laws and it should be the same when it comes to cultures that do not want to integrate.

"We should be very careful about where certain Muslims come from and what they believe. If you come here, you should behave yourself – it's as simple as that.

"If people come and live in any country and their way of life is so different they need their own special laws, then possibly they have to pick somewhere else to live.

"The idea of any Muslim being photographed for a passport or a license with one of those shrouds on – sorry, it just can't happen.”

He’s become more politically involved in recent years, transitioning from his Labor roots to a supporter of conservative, Christian values.

He publicly rallied against the Gillard carbon tax, joined the National Party and stood as a candidate for the Nationals, until he withdrew support after finding himself to be a square peg in a round hole. While he agreed with the party values the party machine was too restrictive.

Determined to tackle youth and social issues such as the ice epidemic in regional towns, Anderson was warned by party officials of being too negative. There are those personal opinions again.

He decided last year it was time to take it easy, move to the country, look after his elderly mum and enjoy the quiet life - just being Gary Anderson, someone he hadn’t really known for much of his public life.

Then something happened.

Late last year, a new political party was born, the Australian Liberty Alliance.

Anderson’s conservative and immigration views were becoming well known.

He was invited to MC the party’s Sydney and Melbourne launches, and naturally enough, he was sounded out as a possible Senate candidate.

While happy to help the party with public endorsement, the thought of another tilt at politics was the furthest thing from his Utopian dream of a property out bush.

But he hadn’t counted on Kirralie Smith.

Anybody who knows this determined campaigner also knows she doesn’t take no for an answer.

At the party’s Melbourne launch last week Smith found Anderson’s weak spot - a fine bottle of red and a good chat.

Smith convinced Anderson his future belonged in the federal Senate, and urged him to seriously consider running as her Number 2 on the NSW ticket for ALA.

Smith says, surprisingly, he agreed, but she wondered if it might have been the glass or three of the red talking.

Next day, after a phone call Anderson confirmed his decision, admitting he’d pretty much decided prior to the launch night, that if asked again, he’d accept.

So, what did convince the ex-wild man of Australian rock to take the plunge and put himself through the upheaval and uncertainty of a grueling, fiercely contested political campaign?

“I was taught as a kid to always fight for what I believe in, for what’s right. My family was Labor - and my brother was a union delegate all his life and I’m deeply conservative – so it's the mutual basic principle of standing up for the values you believe in that has always stuck with me.

“Liberty - the freedom of men and women - is something that is hard won and too easily lost. Our forefathers have won it for us, but without vigilance we can easily lose it.

“Labor and Liberal are each lost causes, lost to political correctness and party machinery. Until ALA came along no party has been prepared to tell it as it is.

“The principle of Eureka means a lot to me, even though it’s symbolism has been pretty much hijacked by unions. Eureka is about liberty, freedom, democracy.

"The Oath of Eureka is as relevant now as it was in 1854 - We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other, and to fight to defend our rights and liberties.

“To me there is only one party doing that - the Australian Liberty Alliance. They are the true conservative party in Australia. I believe in their values - from their water management policies, (something I’ve been banging on for years about to every Prime Minister who will listen) Islamic immigration, and smaller government.

“When I heard Ron Pike, a farmer, talk at the Sydney ALA launch about his own brilliant, well considered Murray-Darling management plan, I finally thought, “These guys get it. All their values are in sync with mine.”

(Pike his since announced his acceptance to stand as ALA’s first lower house candidate at this election for the seat of Farrer, in the Riverina, Southern NSW).

“What especially appeals to me about ALA is this is not a party of career politicians, this is a party for everyday people, of everyday people, by everyday people.

"Its candidates are not clinically engineered through the union movement or law firms, but are nurses, small business people, soldiers, farmers, IT workers, doctors, policemen…they’re smart professional people who work in communities, who truly represent their community.

“More than a party, ALA is a grass roots movement.”

“There’s almost a raw simplicity to the movement - a naivety - where ordinary people can rise up and make some real changes.

“This is not some new career move for me. I had already decided my next phase of life was to take it easier on the land. I said no to ALA when they first invited me to join them 9 months ago. My mind was a million miles away from a political life.

“But I’ve come to realise this is bigger than me. If I can get in and help the party in any way I’m asked, to serve my country, and do what I can to help set up a voice in the parliament for the average Australian who has nowhere else to turn, then I needed to step up.

“The reality is, it’s a big challenge having a tilt at the Senate, and I may not get up. But if I can help get Kirralie or the other candidates over the line, I’ll consider my job done. If I do get up, then maybe I can help other younger Australians get an opportunity to serve in the parliament in the future.

“I really do have to be a part of it.”