Date: July 02 2012
One of the rules of public discourse is that we are not allowed to be divisive. We must not criticise a business leader simply because that person is from divided South Africa or broken Ireland; apart from an occasional slip into bad manners (''Bob's bitch'', ''Ju-liar'', ''Ditch the Bitch'') we must stay well away from denigration of a political leader on the basis of gender; and under penalty of a ton of self-righteous bricks on our head we never mention religion, especially one of the Middle Eastern varieties.
But to Hades with such correctness. Let's put some things on the table.
First a call to Victorians, especially those in that State who have affection for the Liberal Party. Can't you see that the great party of Menzies and Holt, Gorton and Fraser has been captured by a gang of arrivistes from the north shore of Sydney? Modern Billy McMahons, the lot of them! Your last prime minister claimed that he was from working-class Sydney, and look what he did to Peter Costello.
Do you honestly think that Melbourne will get a fair go from Abbott, Hockey and Turnbull? People of Victoria, take back your great Liberal Party out of the clutches of toffs from north of the Harbour Bridge.
Then there is the question of religion. In the good old days, the Liberal Party could boast only the occasional token Catholic - Phillip Lynch comes to mind - but now Catholics dominate the leadership. If we are to believe the polls, the next Australian Parliament will have a Prime Minister, Deputy PM (Barnaby Joyce), Treasurer, Leader of the House, Minister for Finance and Minister for Communications who are all practising Catholics. Shouldn't that frighten you if you are not a Catholic? Indeed, shouldn't it frighten you even more if, like this writer, you are a Catholic and have an idea of how we operate?
We keep being told that MPs do not vote according to their religious beliefs. Not half, they don't. Think Tony Abbott's role when he was Health Minister during the debate on RU486. And remember his squirming when he denied that he had any meetings with Cardinal George Pell until a persistent interviewer refreshed his memory. Pell seems to me like someone you would not forget meeting.
There is currently in the United States a case in which the Catholic bishops are taking the Obama administration to court to stop a proposal that would require employers to provide family planning help to employees. The bishops were quoted as saying that such a law would mean that ''Our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance …''
It defies logic to imagine that the provision of a service such as the President envisaged would have the kind of dramatic effect that the bishops foresee. Fundamental rights! A valuable ministry! This is talk out of the Dark Ages. Fortunately, Australia won't need our bishops to be so forward because the country is about to elect a Catholic Prime Minister, Catholic Deputy Prime Minister, Catholic Treasurer …
Perhaps Australian bishops would not follow their American counterparts and claim that the private love lives of citizens were part of their ''valuable ministry''. On the other hand, the current Liberal leadership has put a whip on all its members to oppose gay marriage; who is to say they may not do the same for other matters of social policy which are contrary to Catholic morality? And remember that it is still Catholic moral teaching that the act of sex must always be open to the creation of life.
If this country does not come to its senses, the next Parliament will be dominated by politicians who are not just Catholic, but Jesuit-trained Catholics. Abbott, Pyne, Joyce, Hockey - Nelson, McGauran and Alston before them - are all Jesuit Old Boys. The saying, ''Give me the child until the age of seven and I will give you the man'' is attributed to the Jesuits. Mere Brothers' schools are at the downmarket end, required to provide the headkickers: Kevin Andrews, Andrew Robb, Bill Heffernan.
Perhaps these charges are unfair to Catholics and to the Jesuits in particular. But if there is one thing that we have learned from Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne over the last few years, it is that fairness has no place in politics, something they may well have learned at school.
Besides, shouldn't people know about this, so that they can at least imagine all kinds of conspiracy?
The Ulster Unionists had a saying, ''Home Rule is Rome Rule''; clever people, those Unionists and even if there was little basis for their fear, it kept their followers voting the right way for more than 80 years.
Perhaps it is time Australia took a leaf out of their book and to heck with divisiveness.
Frank O'Shea is a Canberra writer.
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