Asia-Pacific

Outspoken Anglican rector Rod Bower announces Senate bid

Father Rod Bower, a vocal advocate for refugees, is running for the Senate. Source: AAP

The outspoken Central Coast rector is set to make a political tilt.

He is best known for the thought-provoking signs outside his NSW Central Coast church, but now often-outspoken rector Father Rod Bower is running for the Senate. 

Fr Bower of Gosford Anglican Church announced he, intends to run as an independent candidate at next year's federal election, while addressing a refugee rally in Sydney on Saturday.

Fr Bower has long been known for using the sign outside his church as a platform for social commentary, including taking the government's policy on refugees to task.

Fr Bowers
This sign from 2013 helped Fr Bower gain a following.
Rod Bower

"This nation has been diminished by the policies that have led to what's now happening on Manus Island and Nauru," he told Radio National on Monday.

"In the Senate I would hope to be able to encourage our politicians to adhere to our international covenants and refugee conventions."

He said he will continue to work as an Anglican priest until the next election, but will resign if he's elected to the Senate. 

Hope for the future

“I hope to be one of a number of centrist independents committed to rebuilding the ethical framework of our national parliamentary system,” Fr Bower said in a statement.

“The parliament’s inability to act ethically on issues such as climate change, refugees and basic human rights is systematic of a deeper malaise within the two-party-dominated structure which has led to legislation being put forward for reasons other than the common good.

“Senators who are truly independent are able to review legislation on it merit and in the national interest.”

Courting controversy 

Fr Bower has, at times, been a controversial figure. 

Fr Bower
This sign courted some controversy.
Rod Bower

A group of far-right activists stormed into a service in May, carrying a whip and a toy sword. 

Fr Bower said at the time that he suspected the church was targeted because of its vocal support for refugees, and inclusive stance towards Muslims. 

Soon-to-be independent federal MP Kerryn Phelps, who stunned many in the Wentworth by-election, said she was "heartened" by Fr Bower's plan to run.

"I think we have, for too long, moved away from a sense of the people being represented and it's important that people have a voice about the issues that are of importance to them," she told reporters on Monday.

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