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Ok, I wrote this sometime last century and I was never sure…


Are we a secular state or a bunch of Pell pleasers?

According to Wikipedia, “a true secular state should steadfastly maintain national governance without influence from religious factions.”

Considering Australia is a supposedly secular state, religion plays not only an inordinate role in policies, it costs the taxpayer billions each year.

Charities are eligible for a range of tax concessions, including refunds of imputation credits, income tax exemptions, FBT and GST concessions.

To be a charity, all of your not-for-profit’s purposes must be charitable, except purposes that are ‘incidental or ancillary’ to (further or aid) the charitable purposes.

The law recognises many kinds of purposes as charitable.

The Charities Act 2013 (Cth) lists twelve charitable purposes:

  • advancing health
  • advancing education
  • advancing social or public welfare
  • advancing religion
  • advancing culture
  • promoting reconciliation, mutual respect and tolerance between groups of individuals that are in Australia
  • promoting or protecting human rights
  • advancing the security or safety of Australia or the Australian public
  • preventing or relieving the suffering of animals
  • advancing the natural environment
  • promoting or opposing a change to any matter established by law, policy or practice in the Commonwealth, a state, a territory or another country, (where that change furthers or opposes one or more of the purposes above) and
  • other similar purposes ‘beneficial to the general public’ (a general category).

According to a Herald/Nielsen poll conducted in the lead-up to the 2010 federal election, 84 per cent of people surveyed agreed with the statement ”religion and politics should be separate”.

More recently, a worldwide poll conducted by Win-Gallup International, found that 48 per cent of Australians said they were not religious; 10 per cent declared themselves “convinced atheists”; and 5 per cent did not know or did not respond. Only 37 per cent were religious. Yet the increasing influence and funding of religion in Australia persists.

Considering the vast array of differing beliefs and the disharmony that religion has caused throughout history, I fail to see how “advancing religion” is, in itself, “beneficial to the general public” when the majority of the public are not religious.

The Howard government outsourced a lot of social welfare to various religious organisations. By shifting a costly and complex social responsibility to religious providers, the government also exempts them from anti-discrimination laws. This is particularly evident with faith-based aged care providers that are free to discriminate against gays and lesbians on the sole basis that religious ethos overrides the principle of fair and equal treatment of all people. Faith-based schools can refuse entry to children on the basis of their religion, or lack thereof.

We also spend hundreds of millions on school chaplains for state schools. This appears in contradiction to the separation of church and state.

Australia is one of only three countries in the world where even the commercial enterprises of religious organisations are granted tax concessions. They are not required to report the breakdown of their charitable, business or investment activities.

Federally, these apply to income tax, fringe benefits tax, and the goods and services tax. State government exemptions cover land tax, payroll tax, stamp duties and car registration fees. Local governments provide exemptions from municipal rates. Concessions may also be granted for some water and power charges.

In 2008, the Secular Party of Australia made a submission to Treasury where they estimated the government’s financial assistance to religious institutions to be in the order of $31 billion annually.

They suggested that more accurate estimates of this kind could be obtained if the information was available, but it is not. It is standard budgetary procedure that the loss of revenue arising from exemptions, for example those applying to superannuation pensions, are listed in budget papers and can be quantified. It is anomalous that no such requirement exists for religious organisations, even those that may be involved in significant business and investment related activities.

Further anomalies occur in relation to the application of the Fringe Benefits Tax and the Goods and Services Tax. As the FBT is exempt to employees who are religious practitioners, eligible employers can provide remuneration packages that are biased wholly in terms of fringe benefits, thereby avoiding any income tax. This device can also create an unwarranted entitlement to social security benefits.

In relation to the GST, an anomaly occurs in relation to ceremonies for weddings and funerals. If performed by a civil celebrant, GST is payable, whereas if done in a church, it is not. Apart from being grossly inequitable, the situation is of doubtful legality in the light of equal opportunity laws that prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion.

The SPA made the following recommendations in their 2008 submission.

  1. We submit that the definition of “charitable purpose” be reformed to exclude “advancement of religion”, which would reflect the modern view that religious worship and indoctrination into any sect, cult or religion are not charitable activities in themselves.
  2. We submit that the activities of any charitable organisation, religious or not, should not be exempt from accountability or from taxation.
  3. We submit that the investment and business related activities of any organisation should not be exempt from taxation.
  4. We submit that only the bona fide charitable activities not connected with religious worship or indoctrination should be tax exempt.
  5. We submit that a Charities Commission be established for the purposes of regulating and making accountable the charitable activities of all non-profit organisations. This should include religious organisations, and ensure that tax exemptions are provided only in relation to bona fide charitable activities, and are not used to disguise religious worship or indoctrination.
  6. We submit that all not-for-profit and religious organisations should be required to submit annual reports that are audited, and publicly available in a manner similar to that for public companies.
  7. We submit that if religious organisations receive tax exemptions, these must be provided only to the extent that their activities are bona fide charitable. Where an organisation is involved in religious worship and indoctrination, their business activities, investment income and other taxable activities should be separated, either through an accounting division or through operational separation.

In 2012, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) was established largely as a result of a 2010 Productivity Commission report that criticised the existing regulatory regime, in which charities were overseen by a combination of ATO, ASIC, and the states, as cost-inefficient and unnecessarily complex. Moreover, the Productivity Commission deemed the preexisting system as insufficient for ensuring transparency in the allocation of funds by charities.

In 2013, Pro Bono Australia, an independent information agency for the sector, conducted a survey of 1500 non-profits. The survey found that 80% of respondents supported the ACNC. Despite this, the Coalition will move this year to abolish it and hand its functions over to the ATO.

Why would they ignore the overwhelming support from the NFP sector for the ACNC?

Fairfax Media reported that the Coalition’s plans to abolish the charity regulator, the ACNC, was in part due to “the lobbying power of church conservatives, the Catholic Church in particular, and the office of Sydney Cardinal George Pell, more particularly still.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the links to articles in the Age and the SMH about that story no longer work.

However another faith-based Not for Profit, St Vincent de Paul Society National Council has called on the Federal Government to abandon its ideological opposition to the ACNC.

“Rather than abolishing the ACNC, the Government would be well-advised to listen to the voices of the charitable and Not for Profit sector,” Chief Executive Dr John Falzon said. “The ACNC has built excellent relationships with the community sector in an effort to move towards a more supportive and less burdensome regulatory system. We are astonished to see the Government showing such strident opposition to the very sensible role of the ACNC.”

Community Council for Australia Chief Executive Officer David Crosbie said that a very broad range of people, other than some groups in the Catholic community, had shown support for the ACNC.

“For a long time people have been talking about the Not for Profit sector needing to have a voice and I think that yesterday it had a voice,” Crosbie said. “That can only be a benefit to the sector and that level of attention to our issues can only benefit the sector.”

“This is the kind of repeal you have when you don’t know what to do. The focus of this bill is solely to get rid of the ACNC. There’s no real plan, no real narrative or vision for what will happen when the ACNC is disbanded.”

Watch for a reintroduction of gag clauses to stop NFPs speaking out about funding cuts, banned by Federal Labor in 2013 but alive and well in Queensland and NSW. Talk and we cut your funding.

This is now in the hands of SS Commandant Morrison who will no doubt ban all scrutiny, accountability or transparency citing “on-god operations”.

George Pell will be well-pleased.


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  1. pappinbarafox

    I rather like the accidental irony of an old English case deciding whether an order of nuns devoting their lives to prayer and self denial in the belief that it would lead to eternal salvation, constituted a charity (Cocks v Manners 1871) It was not until the latter part of the 19th century that the English courts explicitly held that purposes for the advancement of religion must be a public benefit. In 1871, in the Chancery case of Cocks v Manners, it was held that the purposes of an enclosed order of Roman Catholic nuns could not be charitable as no benefit to those outside the order could be proved. The Vice-Chancellor, Sir John Wickens, stated:
    It is said, in some of the cases, that religious purposes are charitable, but that can only be true as to religious services tending directly or indirectly towards the instruction or the edification of the public.
    Although this statement was inconsistent with earlier religious charity cases, it was the logical culmination of the reasoning in the leading charity law decision of Morice v Bishop of Durham (‘Morice’), decided at the turn of the century. The influential judgments of Sir William Grant MR at first instance and Lord Eldon on appeal in that case had tied the definition of all charitable purposes to the ‘spirit and intendment’ of the preamble to the Statute of Charitable Uses 1601. The preamble listed particular purposes which its Elizabethan lawmakers had wished to encourage and that undeniably rested on public benefit.

  2. philgorman2014

    Another well researched and cogent article that brings simmering issues to the suface, where they belong.

    Surely there are grounds for a legal challenge on constitutional grounds; citing the doctrine of the separation of powers. At the very least a parliamentary committee should be looking in to the matter. May I cite your article in letters to senators?

  3. Kaye Lee

    Of course Phil.

  4. DanDark

    After having a disscussion with a bloke at the Dept of Education recently
    I am at a loss of what’s going on in this country, his words ” a lot of parents take kids out of schools to home school them because the school isn’t extreme Christian fundamentalist enough and they can teach them their own curriculum” I said “you are joking arnt you” he said “no they take them out because they arnt Christian enough and can teach them what they want they make the curriculum for their kid/s” this is slightly breathtaking to me, the country is stuffed that’s for sure…

  5. Kaye Lee

    Thanks Paul. An enlightening and frightening read. Pell even forced Labor to water down the initial legislation.

    “Labor senator Ursula Stephens has watched the campaigning over the commission at close quarters, including from her former position as parliamentary secretary for social inclusion, where she had responsibility for reform of charities regulation.

    A proud Catholic, she confirms heavy lobbying of both sides of politics, including by the national Catholic Bishops Conference and separately by the clearly more anti-regulation Sydney archdiocese.

    She says she had “absolutely” no doubt that Cardinal Pell’s representatives had had a big influence on opposition family and human services spokesman Kevin Andrews’ promise in mid-2012 to abolish the commission, well before Labor detailed its final, amended form in Parliament, a position he reiterated last week.

    “I’m well aware that Sydney lobbied the opposition very hard on this issue, says Senator Stephens. “They got to Kevin Andrews early.”

    After its initial tabling in mid-2012, the charities legislation was repeatedly amended, with some of its more demanding reporting requirements removed, especially for churches.

    Notable among the changes was a watering-down of clauses requiring small religious bodies – local parishes – to account for their income.

    Another was to remove the onus on organisations to prove they work in the public interest.

    The Sunday Age is aware of frustration among some Labor insiders that some of the amendments allowed the churches greater cover when, arguably, they should be facing more, not less, scrutiny.

    Senator Stephens says that, as Labor shaped its charities bill, the Catholic Church in particular pressed hard for modification in countless meetings with Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury.

    Did the church have a major hand in softening Labor’s charities regime? “Yes they had a victory there,” says Senator Stephens.”

  6. Harquebus

    What also riles me is the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of every parliament.

  7. Kerri

    It is long overdue that we started taxing Religious enterprises. Their benefit to the general community is minimal and undoubtably tinged with conversion, and the wealth of the various religious instituitions is obscene. Whatever happened to vows of charity?? Whatever happened to “thou shalt not worship a graven image” the Catholic church is loaded with graven images. At a funeral I attended last year I noted around 30 gold candelabrae (possibly just paint but there would definitely be catholic churches where the candelabrae are real gold) and the chalice was kept in a locked cabinet behind the pulpit. Such an abundance of the trappings of wealth speaks more of devotion to opulence than devotion to “God’s work”. I also noted that the priest, after dipping wafers and finishing off the contents of the chalice, wiped it and then locked it away!! , I suppose any number of bacteria spread to the next congregation could be regarded as a benefit to competitor faiths?

  8. Kaye Lee

    I don’t mind helping them do their charitable work but there is no way that their business and investment enterprises should be tax exempt. Nor should we be subsidising worship which we do in many ways including direct grants eg $140 million for Catholic World Youth Day.

  9. Kaye Lee

    This report is from 2006 so add lots to the figures…..

    “The 10 biggest religious groups in Australia, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, Uniting, Salvation Army, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist and the Pentecostal churches, generated a staggering $23.3 billion in revenue in 2005, up 8.2% on 2004. That does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars donated by the various congregations on the collection plates and credit card machines from the thousands of parishes last year. Nor does it include the money made from businesses outside the top 200 charities.

    In the BRW Charities report, almost half the 200 organisations on the list are religious groups. The Catholic Church dominates the list, with 31 operations, and it took the lion’s share of the revenue — 40.8% — with its vast operations spreading into education, hospitals, aged-care facilities and business ventures such as insurance companies, funds management and media. All up, it raked in more than $16.2 billion in 2005, up 8.3% on the previous year. This includes the $8.9 billion earned by organisations on the top 200 list and another $7 billion from donations, health, welfare and other businesses such as mortgage broking. It also controls more than $4 billion through various super funds that BRW could locate.

    If the Catholic Church were a corporation, it would be one of the top five in the country. On BRW’s list of the top 200 not-for-profit organisations, the Catholic Church has four operations in the top 10, nine in the top 20 and 16 in the top 50. The Catholic Church in Australia is believed to own assets worth more than $100 billion. It is the largest property owner in Australia and owns schools, hospitals, parishes and land in prime locations across the country.”

  10. Kaye Lee

    The other two countries who do not charge tax on the church’s business enterprises are Israel and Hungary. Just them and us.

  11. eli nes

    I wonder if chaplainised uni courses are hecs free??? I wonder if the catholic school adverts on commercial tv are gst free? Women may not be well represented in cabinet but those of the faith are well to the fore and they have never heard of Epicurus.

  12. Kaye Lee

    And then we have the IPA,

    In 1987 the IPA restructured itself as a company limited by guarantee, which means that its directors are not liable for any debts it might incur. The restructure enabled it to apply to become an Approved Research Institute (ARI) and thus be eligible for endorsement as a deductible gift recipient (DGR). In other words, donors to the Institute would be able to claim a tax deduction for their donations. DGR status is the most valuable asset of an organisation like the IPA because without it virtually no-one would donate.

    In order for the IPA to become a DGR it had to apply to the Secretary of what is now the Federal Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research giving various undertakings.

    Most importantly, it had to undertake to use all tax-deductible donations exclusively for scientific research,more particularly, “scientific research which is, or may prove to be, of value to Australia”. In this context, the authorities have ruled that “scientific research” includes social scientific research….

    It must also ensure that all disbursements … are evaluated and approved by “a suitably qualified research committee” of at least five members, the majority of whom are appropriately qualified in the field of research that is to be undertaken or have appropriate experience in reviewing research, and who should be nominated on the basis of their “proven ability to direct a research program”. As far as I can tell, the IPA has not made public the membership of its research committee.

    The rules state explicitly that tax-deductible funds may not be used for “the organisation of conferences, congresses and symposia and the publication of information (other than the results of the ARI’s own research work, undertaken through this program).”

    All of this raises the question of whether donations to the IPA for which the donor has claimed a tax deduction are being used in compliance with the law.

    So, when the IPA are out there spinning the facts on climate change, tobacco or GMO foods, we, the taxpayers, are subsidising the service through tax-deductions for IPA’s donors as well as providing free carriage of their message on our taxpayer-funded ABC.

    The IPA has heavily relied on funding from a small number of conservative corporations. Those funders disclosed by the IPA to journalists and media organisations include:
    •Major mining companies – BHP-Billiton and Western Mining Corporation;
    •Pesticides/Genetically modified organisms: Monsanto;
    •A range of other companies including communications company Telstra, Clough Engineering, Visy, and News Limited;
    •Tobacco companies – Philip Morris (Nahan) and British American Tobacco
    •Oil and gas companies: Caltex, Esso Australia (a subsidiary of Exxon) and Shell and Woodside Petroleum; and fifteen major companies in the electricity industry;
    •Forestry: Gunns, the largest logging company in Tasmania;
    •Murray Irrigation Ltd …

    In 2003, the Australian [Howard] Government paid $50,000 to the Institute of Public Affairs to review the accountability of NGOs.

    The latest truly breathtaking rort is tax deductibility for donations to fund the new IPA-promoted misinformation manual, Climate Change: The Facts 2014. Like previous books, it attacks climate science, carbon pricing and renewable energy targets.,6649

  13. la_lasciata

    What I am tempted to say with regard to George Pell – which is the addition of only one imperative before his name – is unprintable, of course. As is much of my opinion about religion, in fact, But Pell is something else … something from my schooldays, the bastard. A bullying, finger-wagging, arrogant man who is as little like a man of god as can be imagined.

  14. TechinBris

    Kay Lee, I am absolutely puzzled how an Organisation, the IPA, whose sole purpose of all research and studies, is always to come to only one possible conclusion, in every case, being the amplification of a voice demanding “We want Greed!”, whilst still not offering any evidence on how it will help Australia in a positive manor for the peoples of the Commonwealth, other than they say it will.
    These people are being paid to promote that, which has been the destruction of many a civilisation in the past. They are using a flawed process for verification their analysis, which fails all normal academic rigour, which means it will have no value in the end to the Commonwealth of Australia.
    Caveat emptor.

  15. Kaye Lee

    The IPA is the home for Young Liberals with degrees who can’t find a job or people like Bob Carter who has been rejected by his peers. They are mouths for their donors, nothing more.

    When I did debating I often had to argue the case for things that I did not believe in. As an academic exercise, you can make the case for anything and the result often goes to the person with the best theatrics.

    For an example of how the IPA are puppets, look into the “Developing Northern Australia” sequence of events. The cast include Gina Rinehart, Barnaby Joyce, ANDEV, and the IPA with Tony Abbott saying whatever script he is handed. The teacher in me is drawing red lines through everything Tony says saying you must attribute your sources.

  16. diannaart

    I was just about to ask Kaye Lee to include the IPA – and god bless her, she has.

    The only religion the IPA has is money and will support anyone person, race or creed who offers it to them:

    How do the remaining IPA employees reconcile continued opposition to s18C with their newfound love for Muslim mullah moolah? Is this a new power coupling between Christian religious fundamentalist conservatism and Islamic religious fundamentalist conservatism in Australia, or is it just a case of filthy lucre?

    One could begin to think that all religions are merely a scam.

  17. John Fraser


    "In the last 14 years the west has invaded Iraq under the pretext of terrorism, has invaded Afghanistan to stop the Taliban, and continues drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas in the name of defeating terror."


    "Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result."

    The Author :

    " Andrew MacLeod is a Visiting Professor at Kings College London, a visiting expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, a former Australian Army Officer and United Nations Official. He can be followed on twitter @andrewmmacleod"

    The Article :

  18. Kaye Lee


    My personal passion is education (or it was until Tony Abbott made me start fighting on all fronts).

    “Stephanie Forrest is the IPA “expert” on the National Curriculum. She completed a Bachelor of Arts with Honours at the University of Melbourne in 2013 in Classics and History. In her Honours thesis, she reconstructed a previously lost Byzantine chronicle dating to the period of the early Islamic conquests (7th-8th centuries AD), and included a translation of the entire chronicle from early-medieval Greek into English. While at University, Stephanie won a number of academic prizes and co-founded the Melbourne University Classics and Archaeology Students Society, of which she was President in 2012-2013. A key focus of Stephanie’s work at the IPA is the National Curriculum.”

    And the over 20,000 submissions by experts are to be ignored while we listen to Stephanie who has NO teaching experience and whose expertise is in early Byzantine chronicles.

    According to Stephanie….

    “The education minister Christopher Pyne has promised to review the Gillard Government’s National History Curriculum. But the curriculum doesn’t need to be reviewed. It needs to be scrapped.

    The curriculum leans towards a politically correct, distinctly leftist agenda, which places undue emphasis on concepts like ‘environmentalism’, ‘socialism’, and ‘multiculturalism’, while denigrating the legacy and achievements of Western Civilisation.”

    Oh puhlease…..just stop the Young Liberal crap Stephanie….you have a LOT to learn from people with a great deal more knowledge and experience than you. The idea that my government is giving you money to spout this drivel is unbelievably offensive.

  19. Phi

    Australia is virtually drowning in money but the churches and the business elites (IPA) and their admin arm (LNP) are corruptly funnelling all that money to themselves all the while propagandising to ordinary Australians.

    What is it about Aussie workers and small business operators that so clouds their vision and their sense of justice that makes them vote against their own and their children’s interests – are they really that blind??

    There is no political or social passion left in this pathetic country, just passive acceptance of the ‘bosses’ needs and the osmosis of government propaganda.

    For f*cks sake Aussies – wake up, open your eyes and clear the fog – you are stumbling like a nation of drunkards.

  20. rangermike1

    Why teach Science, why teach Economics, Why teach Social studies when we can be like Morrison and Co. and speak in strange languages and clap our hands together ? Yep. that will fix it. Parliamentary Idiots.

  21. rangermike1

    I had read once that the Conservative brain, was different to the Progressive brain. Those that vote conservative tended to be ruled by Fear and change. The Progressive brain says, We don’t give a Damn, Bring it on.

  22. diannaart

    The curriculum leans towards a politically correct, distinctly leftist agenda, which places undue emphasis on concepts like ‘environmentalism’, ‘socialism’, and ‘multiculturalism’, while denigrating the legacy and achievements of Western Civilisation.”

    Kay Lee this piece of rhetoric must be implanted into the mind of every Young Liberal or other aspiring conservative.

    I can understand why the word “socialism” immediately rings alarms for some – as it is linked to the word communism at every opportunity (in spite of there being distinct differences). But I can not understand why the idea of words such as ‘environment’ or ‘multiculturalism’ are apparently concepts of the left. You’d think that caring for our environment is just common sense and multiculturalism bleeding obvious on this small blue/green planet.

    As for “denigrating the legacy and achievements of Western Civilisation” where, when and how? I was born into a white middle class family right here in Australia – all I have ever seen is for such privileged societies as ours bang on and on about western achievement and all-round superiority my entire life.

    What is wrong with these people?

  23. Margaret McMillan

    It is a battle that is going to have to be fought. How much truth was there in the rumour that Gillard agreed to oppose same-sex marriage due to a deal with the Christian lobby? While I admire Gillard almost unquestioningly, I find it hard to believe that she allowed chaplains in schools to continue. And now look what we have! Abbott even suggesting that training for the religious should be covered by HECS (not sure of my facts here, but saw something not too long ago)
    As a lapsed Catholic (about the year after I left convent school) I am deeply philosophically against any muddling of church and state. Make them pay taxes, remove their privileges, get chaplains out of our schools and provide proper professional counselling.
    There’s only one religious person I can tolerate at the moment and that’s Fr Rod Bower from Gosford. Why aren’t all Christian churches speaking out against the immorality of this government? – asylum seeker policies and the attacks on the most vulnerable are crying out for some leadership from the churches. It aint gonna happen!

  24. stephengb2014

    Fantastic conversation, I have recently discovered people like the late Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, all of whom have made me realise why I am so suspicious of religions of any structure.
    Then they in turn led me to Steven Hail, Bill Mitchell and the discussion about Modern Monetary Theory.
    Kaye Lee has opened my eyes to so much politics and corruption within our society.

    I am greatfull to AIMN and its contributors for so much intellectual stimulation – thank you.

    Much of what has been learnt by me has also been to the fact that Facebook allows it to be promulgated.

    Thanks all – at 67 I am pleased to say that I am constantly looking at Facebook and AIMN as well as other independent media, and in particular the contributers, to feed my appetite for knowledge.

    Oh yes – I do take time out to smell the roses which are beautiful this year.

    retired but not dead

  25. Jexpat

    Could be it’s time that this sacred cow gets more than a cursory mentioned in budgetary discussions.

    Hell, nearly everything else has.

  26. jagman48

    At least the Salvation Army (and yes it is a religion) give back to the population monies they collect.

  27. Kyran

    As always, well done, Kaye Lee. I recall listening to Pell giving evidence to the Victorian Royal Commission, I think into child abuse. It was a lesson in IPA evidence giving, a la Sinodinos. I don’t have the capacity to search for the transcripts, which I would dearly love to do. My recollection is that he attended the Commission twice and his second appearance was largely to discuss the financial structure of the Catholic Church in Australia. Some hours were spent by Pell citing a myriad of trusts and “silo” structures, which he considered precluded him from estimating the wealth of the church in dollar terms at any specific time. The relevance of the testimony was that the Catholic Church in Australia was paying damages to victims in the order of $75,000, whilst in America, the victims were being paid over $1 million in damages. His initial reasoning was that the Australian church couldn’t afford more. After considerable time, he eventually agreed with the estimate of the combined wealth of all of the structures being, approximately, give or take, possibly, maybe, near enough to $1.3 trillion.
    I nearly tossed my cookies in the ensuing days when the announcement was made of his appointment to the Vatican to oversee the restructuring of the Catholic Churches global financial network.
    A charity indeed. Take care

  28. Kaye Lee


    The following article confirms your information. Unfortunately the accompanying video of Pell giving evidence is “no longer available”.

    Some pertinent facts from Pell’s evidence….

    •Sydney Archdiocese controls $1.236b funds
    •Church makes $43 million profit a year
    •Spent $1.5m fighting $100,000 abuse claim

  29. Kaye Lee

    According to Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, Dr Pell told his audience of World Youth Day delegates that “abortion is a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people”, during a public religious instruction session (in 2002)

  30. Kaye Lee

    TONY JONES: Tony Abbott on another matter, have you met Archbishop Pell during the election campaign?

    TONY ABBOTT: Not that I can recall.

    TONY JONES: Not that you can recall, because we believe that you’ve had at least one meeting with him quite recently?

    You don’t recall that?

    TONY ABBOTT: Well, when?


    TONY JONES: At the presbytery in Sydney.

    TONY ABBOTT: Ah, actually now that you do mention it, I did met with Cardinal Pell.

    So what?

    Why shouldn’t I meet with Cardinal Pell?

    TONY JONES: Why couldn’t you recall meeting him, I think, 10 days ago?

    TONY ABBOTT: Look, whenever it was, so what?

    Why shouldn’t I meet Cardinal Pell.

    Cardinal Pell is a fine man.

    He made a very good statement the other day about the Labor Party’s policy, why shouldn’t I meet with him?

    TONY JONES: Well, the reason we’re asking about this, obviously, because your behind-the-scenes activities in the ’98 election were quite renowned and I’m wondering is there any possibility that in your discussions with Cardinal Pell which you couldn’t recall a moment ago – in those discussions did you actually bring up the issue of private schools?


    TONY JONES: Not at all?


    TONY JONES: What issues were discussed?

    TONY ABBOTT: Well, Tony, I may well have been going to confession to Cardinal Pell, I may well have been seeking pastoral counselling from Cardinal Pell.

    What’s so sinister about that?

    Cardinal Pell is one of the greatest churchmen that Australia has seen.

    I am a very imperfect Catholic.

    Why shouldn’t I go and seek counsel?

    Why shouldn’t I go and trespass on the time occasionally of someone like Cardinal Pell.

    If you spent more time with Cardinal Pell, your life might be more interesting.

    TONY JONES: I haven’t spent any time at all with Cardinal Pell as it turns out, but that’s beside the point.

    You’re a political operative and the question is not whether he gave you counselling but whether you gave him counselling because only a short time after your visit out came this letter signed by two Archbishops condemning Labor’s education policy?

    TONY ABBOTT: So you think that I put words into the mouth not only of Cardinal Pell but of Archbishop Jensen?

    TONY JONES: I’m simply asking whether that was a matter of your conversations which a moment ago you didn’t recall?

    TONY ABBOTT: That’s a bizarre suggestion.

    TONY JONES: Tony Abbott, we’ll have to leave it there, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

    TONY ABBOTT: Thanks.

  31. Kyran

    Thank you for that. His testimony, at the time, was being broadcast on ABC radio, I can’t recall if it was local or national. The broadcast may be stored on the radio archives. I do recall having to stop driving twice, due simply to rage at his testimony. His callous indifference to the victims and his repeated defence of the church’s actions on the basis of economics was nothing short of disgusting.
    As an aside, does anyone know where any of the god’s advertise for their emissaries? I think I might apply. My motivation wouldn’t be purely for a shot at $1.3 trillion.
    Take care

  32. Skeet

    “This is now in the hands of SS Commandant Morrison who will no doubt ban all scrutiny, accountability or transparency citing “on-god operations”.”

    Wanna bet this piece of vicious filth also removes the appeals level protection from forthcoming reviews of DSP recipients, to make sure he can’t be held accountable for the violence he is about to inflict on them?

  33. Jaquix

    Gosh, what an imperfect memory – claims cant even remember meeting with Pell 10 days ago – and he is in charge of our destiny in Australia ?

  34. Kaye Lee

    From 2004….

    The Howard Government’s pledge of $5 million to Western Australia’s Notre Dame University, Sydney Campus, has been lifted to $20 million and the University has been given full access to HECS. In other words, a private Catholic university, dominated by the ultra-conservative Pell, will be funded by the Liberals as if it were a public university.

    As a postscript – the moderate Australian Catholic University has been told, by Pell, that its rental for church land of $1, will be raised to over $1 million (or more, I don’t have the exact amount), but this new rental will be reduced if they introduce compulsory conservative Catholic religious courses.

  35. Kaye Lee

    Taxpayers would subsidise the training of priests and other religious workers at private colleges for the first time under the Abbott government’s proposed higher education reforms.

    As well as deregulating university fees and cutting university funding by 20 per cent, the government’s proposed higher education package extends federal funding to students at private universities, TAFES and associate degree programs.

    Religious teaching, training and vocational institutes would be eligible for a share of $820 million in new Commonwealth funding over three years.

    In correspondence with voters, Family First Senator Bob Day has singled out funding for faith-based training institutes to explain his support for the government’s reforms.

    Eleven theological colleges are currently accredited by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) to provide courses designed to prepare students to enter religious ministries.

    Institutes such as the Sydney College of Divinity, Brisbane’s Christian Heritage College and the Perth Bible College, which currently charge students full fees, would be eligible for an estimated $4214 funding a year each student under the reforms.

    The John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne, which offers course units including “Theology and Practice of Natural Family Planning” and “Marriage in the Catholic Tradition”, would also be eligible for federal support.

    A member of the Catholic Pontifical Council for the Laity, Kevin Andrews is an Adjunct Lecturer in Politics and in Marriage Education in the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne.

    Perhaps he will enjoy employment there after, if the rumours are true, he steps aside for Peta Credlin next election.

  36. Sir ScotchMistery

    We should run a competition to find a pithy 4 word slogan to go on t-shirts prior to election day in QLD and get them printed and distributed to AIMN members.

    They would need to pass the electoral rules on t-shirts in the booth however, for which rules I will contact the electoral commission tomorrow.

  37. Michael Taylor

    Why 4, Scotchy? I thought 3 was all the rage. 😉

  38. Kaye Lee

    When Tony was using his ministerial powers to ban RU-486 one female senator wore a t-shirt saying “Tony Abbott: get your rosaries off my ovaries”. She’d probably be arrested in Queensland.

  39. John Fraser


    Papists don't figure much in the Queensland LNP.

  40. Lotharsson

    Speaking of churches running business activities, it is my understanding that Sanitarium Health Foods is wholly owned by the Seventh Day Adventist church (or at least by one of the church’s legal structures) and hence accrues significant tax advantages compared to its competitors. Wonder how many people are aware of that as they grab their products off the supermarket shelves?

  41. Sean Judd

    I wonder how many people would read this and think it makes perfect sense, that we give religion too many concessions and financial support, but then turn around and support the business of Halal Certification?

  42. corvus boreus

    Sean J,
    Funny what will keep one up wondering into the small hours.
    If it will help you sleep, this one thinks observing halal is as fundamentally pointless as keeping kosher, and eats anything that’s not too poisonous. Most food taboos come from illogical dictates in books written by people rather than practical concern for food hygiene.

    As to halal labeling, I see that as an issue between the discriminating faithful among consumers and those who package and label foodstuffs. Those who care about rituals of dispatch of their meat-stuffs can give dollar preference to providers who give credible assurance of proper observance to formalities. Market decision.

    Accurate labeling identifying actual food content is a different matter, as this involves allergies and other digestive intolerances, as well as the physical aspects of nutrition. It should be(is) illegal to surreptitiously slip swine into food and not clearly state so on the label.

    I do not see any justification for public money going into implementing any(voluntary) halal labeling system, nor indeed into any other (what I see as) pointless demands of any of the religious faiths regarding the personal minutiae and micromanagement allegedly demanded/preferred by their deity.
    Hope that helps.

  43. Kaye Lee

    What an odd comment. Why on earth would anybody be concerned about labelling of food products to show their ingredients? The government doesn’t pay for this and from what I can gather it costs a company $1000 for certification to show their product does not contain pork, blood or alcohol. They happily pay this to expand their market….or at least they did until a bunch of paranoid ignorant racists decided to destroy local businesses because of their own prejudice.

    Should we ban cough syrup that has a label saying it DOES include alcohol? Should we ban gluten free foods? I’m not gluten intolerant – why should I pay for that sort of labelling? I’m not diabetic or allergic to nuts – why should I pay for labelling?

    This campaign is utterly ridiculous.

  44. Kaye Lee

    As an example of how ridiculous this campaign is….

    MIKE HOLT, RESTORE AUSTRALIA: First of all, this is Australia. We are not Islamic. We’ve also been – we’ve had this imposed on us without our permission. Did you ever vote in a referendum to allow halal certification of just about everything in the supermarket? I didn’t. If they don’t change their ways and start acting as patriotic Australians, they deserve what they get. It’s market forces.

    BOYCOTT HALAL IN AUSTRALIA FACEBOOK POST : One halal product = the next bullet that kills or maims. If you buy halal, you are indirectly funding terrorism.

    TRISH DELANEY, BOYCOTT HALAL IN AUSTRALIA: Myself, lots of the 34,000 people have written to the Government and asked the Government to please, do something about this and label it so that people can know that they have a choice. We don’t mind or have anything against people eating halal food. We don’t want to pay for it. We don’t need it and we don’t want to pay for it.

    ALEX MANN: So why do you say that we’re paying for it?

    TRISH DELANEY: Because of the fees attached to the certification. Some companies say, “No, we absorb the costs,” and we say, “Well you’re not much of a business because businesses don’t absorb costs, they pass it on to consumers.”

    NICK HUTCHINSON, FLEURIEU MILK & YOGHURT COMPANY: It was a requirement of Emirates Airlines. We had to pay a $1,000 fee. It opened up a business market to continue to become viable. It was a necessary step.

    Are these people seriously suggesting that we should have a referendum about food labelling? Do they really think that a $1000 fee which opens up a large market for local producers is costing them anything at all?

  45. Lotharsson

    “Did you ever vote in a referendum to allow halal certification of just about everything in the supermarket? I didn’t.”

    Apparently Mike Holt doesn’t believe that Australia is a free country, nor does he believe in the free market. I’m guessing he probably doesn’t even realise that he doesn’t believe in those things…

    He also has trouble understanding the difference between “me” and “businesses that sell products I might want to buy”, as evidenced by “…we’ve had this imposed on us without our permission.” Er, no, Mike, you have not had anything imposed on you here.

    Trish Delaney’s comment is awesomely misguided. She’s asking the Government for LABELING (apparently) so that consumers can choose either non-Halal certified products or Halal-certified products, in her case presumably choosing the former on the theory that they are very very slightly cheaper. I don’t think she understood that most manufacturers who get certified are going to want to label their products accordingly precisely so that consumers who make the opposite choice – seeking out Halal-certified products – will use the label to choose to buy them, and that therefore she and her ilk can use the very same voluntarily provided labels to make the choice they want to make.

    Fark me. High enough levels of stupidity amongst the voting population can only lead to facepalming societal outcomes 🙁

  46. diannaart

    Well said.

    Freedom means accepting other people’s food preferences.

    Freedom is not all about a single individual or group.

    Sort of like taxes, may be used for things I don’t use.

  47. trackles

    lol Australia was and is never going to be a secular state, We have Fred Nile as a serving minister for f*cks sake.

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