On Monday night, the ABC aired a Q&A episode titled First Australians and Quiet Australians.
There were seven questions asked, two of which were about an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
The so-called “quiet” Australians were represented by three questions about supposed religious persecution and two about how Labor’s “taxes” would hurt the wealthy.
Far from being quiet Australians, religious people and wealthy people have a hugely disproportionate and loud voice in our politics.
First cab off the rank, Ruth McKie suggested that “a massive groundswell of united prayer and fasting” had delivered a miracle election result.
“It was over parents’ rights and the loss of religious freedoms,” says Ruth, assuring us that “quite a majority of people out there” share her views.
Next questioner, Judy Wilkenfeld, certainly seemed to agree.
“Given Labor’s disastrous loss in last week’s election, including the loss of votes from faith-based electorates and voters, will the Labor Party be reviewing their current policy of removing the protections in the Anti-Discrimination legislation that currently protects faith-based organisations?”
It seems these women agree with Israel Folau and want to preserve their right to discriminate against people based on their sexuality and to condemn homosexuality as evil and unnatural.
The third question on religious persecution asked what could be done about the rise of anti-semitism in Australia, citing “a dual threat – from the far-right and from Islamists.”
An article published by the ABC Religion and Ethics site a few days after the election opines that Labor’s secularism lost them the election.
“The lack of authentically religious voices within Labor is one reason why the party made it very difficult for religious voters to support it in 2019. Another reason is its drift towards a secularism that has no place for religion in the public square. Many of its activist supporters seem openly hostile to those who hold traditional religious beliefs.
The 2019 election showed that the policies that appeal to affluent, irreligious, university-educated activists in the inner cities do not resonate with voters across the country. Labor needs to appeal to mainstream values. That may mean seeking to understand afresh the religious voices in the public square, and to treat people of faith respectfully.”
It is hard to justify the idea that the religious voice represents mainstream Australia when only an estimated 15% continue to take their religions seriously.
According to the 2016 census, those declaring that they have “no religion” increased to just over 30%.
Most of those who nominate a Christian religious identification participate infrequently – with 8% of Anglicans and 12% of Catholics estimated to attend once a month or more.
When Australians aged 13-18 were asked about their religious identification in a representative national survey in 2017, 52% said they had “no religion”.
According to recent research the responses of young Australians to religious diversity is one of great openness. They are most likely to be of the view: “Be whatever you want, or nothing, as you wish; just do not try to use religion to block, shape or change me.”
They are the future.
The question labelled ‘Quiet Australians’ came from a young lady who couldn’t understand why her friends were cross with her for caring more about her inheritance than about “climate change and humanity as a whole.”
“I voted Liberal because Labor Party policies were going to completely threaten my financial position and that of my family,” she pleaded. “Why is politics so full of anger and shaming these days?”
The other question Q&A chose to air came from a person Tim Wilson confessed was a Facebook friend of his, whilst neglecting to mention that Michael Tiyce is/was the president of the East Sydney branch of the Liberal party.
Straight-man Tiyce (and I mean that in a comedic sense rather than sexual predeliction) feeds friend Tim a line to allow him to bask in his own glory.
“Tim Wilson: You were accused of running a scare campaign regarding the retiree tax. First, what do you think of that allegation, and second how important do you consider the public opposition to the tax proved to be for the government’s re-election?”
When Tony Jones suggested it wasn’t really a retiree’s tax, Tim Wilson assured him it was.
“You get a tax credit if you’ve paid tax. If you remove the credit, you only have tax.”
Tony Jones to the rescue, asking Mark Dreyfuss “Would you agree, at least, that it was a financial impost on many retirees?”
Dreyfuss answered “It was a removal of a benefit or a subsidy that is paid by the Australian Tax Office, using other taxpayers’ money… to about 3% of Australian taxpayers.”
“Well, 3% who were on it, and how many per cent were waiting to use that system, and how many relatives and people who had the system? I mean, you’re not…you’re not seriously considering continuing with the policy, are you?”
When Dreyfuss refused to commit to what the party’s final policy position would be, Tony interrupted to say “You wouldn’t want to lay a bet on keeping that policy, would you?”
I think a safer bet would be that Tony Jones (and Ita Buttrose) personally benefit from the taxation concessions just as they are.
No voice for those living in poverty. No voice for those who want to protect our environment. No voice for those whose lives have been destroyed by abuse at the hands of the church or those who must continue to suffer their condemnation.
All in all, a very disappointing show from an increasingly disappointing ABC.
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