With all that’s going on in the world – a pointless war, a global pandemic, rampant global heating leading to increasingly severe and compounding natural disasters, superpowers competing over our region, soaring cost of living, rising inflation, unaffordable housing, poverty, social unrest – the last government spent its dying days fighting for a religious discrimination bill we didn’t need and arguing over trans women playing sport.
When the country was ablaze and blanketed in smoke, our ex-Prime Minister ducked off for a quick holiday. After all, what could he do but pray for us … from a safe distance. On their return, he and Jenny went to visit the victims to tell them about their “thoughts and prayers” and to do a bit of good old “laying on of hands” – because that will make people who have lost everything feel better.
“I’ve been in evacuation centres where people thought I was just giving someone a hug and I was praying, and putting my hands on people … laying hands on them and praying in various situations,” Morrison said.
“It’s been quite a time, it’s been quite a time, and God has, I believe, been using us in those moments to be able to provide some relief and comfort and just some reassurance.”
The fires were due to arsonists and the loony left opposing hazard reduction burns, claimed those who dismiss the call for action on climate change as a “religion” practised by urban elites.
In a display of utter callousness, our ex-deputy PM and ex-leader of the Nationals suggested two of the victims who were killed had “most likely” voted for the Greens. Are we supposed to infer from that that, had they voted for the Coalition, they would be alive today? That it was their own fault?
According to Barnaby, only God can change the climate as he told us in a bizarre video posted Christmas Eve in 2019 when much of Australia was struggling with crippling drought.
“The thing we’ve got to acknowledge is there’s a higher authority that’s beyond our comprehension – right up there in the sky – and unless we understand that it’s got to be respected, then we’re just fools, we’re going to get nailed.”
We have had various Liberal Prime Ministers provide references for paedophile priests and/or describe those who covered up paedophilia as their “mentors”. It was left up to the White House to tell Scott Morrison that it was inappropriate to bring Brian Houston as an invited dinner guest considering he was facing criminal charges.
Conservative commentators like The Australian’s Paul Kelly dismissed the Royal Commission into child sex abuse as “a populist witch hunt” purely designed to undermine Catholic authority.
“This decision has plunged Australia into a multi-jurisdictional, multi-institutional, state-church, high-cost shambles where nobody knows how the massive expectations of victims can be satisfied. It is, however, a perfect fit into Gillard’s political strategy. For Labor, that’s what counts. The media loved it – the combination of a moral crusade, a cast of victims and coming systemic dismantling of the Catholic Church.”
Far from being the party of the outer urban working class and the struggling regions, this jealous defence of wealth and privileged power permeates the Coalition’s response to everything from the Uluru Statement to their support for the mining and burning of fossil fuels.
There has been an influx into the Liberal party of conservative members recruited from Pentecostal churches and other religious groups, with growing influence of climate-denying Christian conservatives.
In the last parliament, being Pentecostal was seen as being meritorious within itself. How else could one explain the promotion of Alex Hawke and Stuart Robert? Or the official photo shoot of an enraptured Morrison lifting voice and arm in praise of the Lord? Or the videos of Scott addressing the congregation?
Our parliament is far more religious than the wider community. The more cynical among us may suggest that is more about a relationship with power rather than God, more about networking than love of their fellow man, more about saving their political hide than their immortal soul.
Courting the religious vote has led to terrible policy and social outcomes – inequitable school funding, divisive debates about the rights of the rainbow community, women’s reproductive health and the choice to die with dignity.
The previous government achieved nothing. They failed to identify risks, let alone manage them, being far more preoccupied with confected culture wars and wedge politics than planning for the future or nurturing international relationships..
It will be up to Labor to offer something better than ‘thoughts and prayers’ to fix the situation that we now find ourselves in after three years of a prime minister who considered himself divinely ordained.
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