Gordon Ramsay is the ACT’s Attorney General and Minister for Regulatory Services. An ordained Uniting Church Minister of the Word, he has made the transition from a church placement to public office. While not endorsing Mr Ramsay, his party, or any particular policy, Insights explores his political career, the transition from the church to public life, and his sense of being called to the role.
Much like former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe before him, Gordon Ramsay technically remains a Uniting Church Minister while holding public office. Despite the change in role, Mr Ramsay does not think he has ‘left’ the church.
“I remember one of my early mentors talked about the ways that living faithfully is about being in a position, or a role, or with a particular ‘calling’ for specific places and times,” he said.
“I have also read that when people move out of congregation or church placements into other areas of work, it probably indicates that they have lost faith or confidence in the church.
“I am more likely to agree with my early mentor than the more cynical opinion. I think that there are a great many ways that we can create a stronger society. I hope that it is the same motivation and the same values that are driving me now that have been doing so for a long time.”
A Public Ministry
First elected in 2016, Mr Ramsay is the MLA for the Ginninderra electorate, representing the Australian Labor Party. He ran using the slogan “Our Gordon Ramsay”, highlighting his shared name with the celebrity chef.
“Church ministry was, for me, a very public role,” Mr Ramsay said.
“I believe that it is about having a sense as to what the world, or what the community could and should be, and then very actively working towards it, both myself and together with others.
“My focus tried to be on how people who were most marginalised could be best included. That’s the same focus that I try to bring now in this role. That’s the standard I expect to be judged against whenever I finish in this role.”
According to Mr Ramsay, however, adjusting to the new role has come with the challenge of a changing relationship with the church.
“Probably one of the hardest transitions is the feeling that the church doesn’t quite know what to do with me,” he said.
“Obviously there has been the gap of a longstanding and regular community of people that I have been in contact with for the past 20 years. But I also sense the church doesn’t quite know how to relate to someone in my sort of role without appearing ‘partisan’. Hopefully that can change in the future.”
Mr Ramsay told Insights that a political career was not “something that I had been planning for.”
“Sometimes, in my experience at least, it is the voice of others that can be most influential. For several years people had been suggesting to me that it is something I should consider. A few years ago, those suggestions started coming both more often and from a pretty broad range of people whose opinion I respect greatly.”
“I was fortunate both that my family are older and it was the right time to move on from my previous role.”
As the Attorney General for the ACT, Mr Ramsay helps craft laws, ensuring that the constitution is upheld.
Politics is an arena with its share of competition and self-promotion. Mr Ramsay told Insights, however, that he does not foster ambitions to hold higher office.
“The positions that I have are an enormous privilege,” he said.
“I have responsibilities around the justice system, for ensuring that people are treated fairly in life, for ensuring the right forms of support for people in particular stages of life, and trying to make life simpler and more enjoyable generally.”
“To be honest, it doesn’t even make sense to me to be talking about ‘aspirations’ beyond that.”
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor