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The day Australia “woke” up

For the last few years, a strange phenomenon has pervaded political discussion in Australia, mainly led by middle-aged, often religious, white men.

The term “woke” became the conservative pejorative of choice.

Action on climate change was “woke”. Protection of the rights of the rainbow community was “woke”. Indigenous recognition was “woke”.

Addressing inequality, corruption, women’s issues, multiculturalism, welfare – all “woke”.

In fact, anything that threatened the power and wealth of white Christian men was dismissed as “woke”.

Hearing people like George Pell and Tony Abbott misuse an African-American slang term just sounds ridiculous.

According to Merriam-Webster, “woke” means “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”

Since when did this become a bad thing?

In March last year, the SMH published an article titled ‘It’s our turn’: Inside the Christian Right conference plotting a political takeover

The article covered the “Church and State” conference held in Brisbane the previous weekend and how conservative Christian activists are attempting to grow their numbers and influence within the Coalition, and their belief that opposition to transgender rights would be key to their political success.

Speakers included George Pell, the Australian Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles, Nationals Senator Matt Canavan and Liberal National MP George Christensen. In the past, the summit has featured Murdoch scribbler Miranda Divine and Liberal Senator Amanda Stoker.

The ACL director spoke at length about what he called “the transgender thing”, describing it as the weakest part of the LGBTQI rights movement because it was “where the lie is most fragile”. He said governments had “given up [their] God-given duty” to “punish those who do evil and reward those who do good”, and implied that behaviour viewed by the church as sinful should be outlawed. He also claimed that within a few years there will be enough of a Christian presence in parliament to send a “shockwave” through it.

Iles recounted a comment by his father that we needed “a good war” to sort this out because society would not be so concerned about climate change or gender identity if we were at war with China.

And it sure looks like the Morrison government heeded his advice, pre-selecting the odious Katherine Deves, drawing a “red line” in the Pacific, and telling us, on ANZAC day of all days, that we must prepare for war with China.

At the behest of this crowd, Morrison reinvigorated his push for a religious freedoms bill which provides those of faith with the means to discriminate against anyone on the basis of sex, sexuality, gender, race or disability if they can justify their discriminating behaviour in the name of their religion, or more specifically Christianity.

Stories of the infiltration of branches of the Coalition by the religious far right abound which may go a long way towards explaining why they failed so spectacularly at this election. The party members are not representative of broader Australia.

Morrison said in his first speech to parliament that Australia was not a secular country. He ignored the wishes of his electorate by abstaining from the vote on marriage equality. He “laid hands” on bushfire victims. And he promoted and surrounded himself with fellow Pentecostals like Alex Hawke, Stuart Robert and Ben Morton.

On Saturday, Australia rejected this march of the religious right to take over our parliament. They chose science over faith and compassion over coercion.

May 21, 2022, was the day Australia “woke” up.


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  1. Win Jeavons

    l prefer ‘ enlightened ‘ . Better English and unassailable . But l am all for more of it !

  2. Douglas Pritchard

    When we use the expression “often religious”, my reaction is to assume that these folk are yet to be “woke”.

  3. Phil Pryor

    In “modern times” now, we should attack and denounce all extreme superstition and practitioners. They are liars, never facing reality. There is no big fairy, no supreme humanoid “spirit”; there is just what we can see, conceive, reseach, find. We have the best ever telescopes and microscopes now. We can see the edges of space and also the smallest sub particles. We can imagine the biggest, farthest, smallest, the almost comprehensible. There is no photo, witnessed appearance, personal presence, DNA sample, footprint, autograph, deposition, affidavit, sworn statement from any fairy or spirit figure, and there never was, so, there is no god out of Mecca, Rome, Canterbury Cathedral, Delhi, Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, Beijing, Wall St., the Pentagon, NOWHERE. All the yabbering righteous superstitionists KNOW that all the others are wrong. It is because they are all wrong. To listen to the drivel and droppings of a Morrison is stifling, evil. Mediaeval Italian paintings are lovely, but they are “misleading”.

  4. Kaye Lee

    And right on cue, that idiot Abbott writes in the Daily Telegraph….

    “Before leaping to the conclusion that the Libs should move further left, it’s also worth noting that the National Party held all its seats and that the Coalition did best in Queensland and Tasmania, where the state party has tended to be least ‘woke’,”

  5. Kathy

    I have a term for them. Sleepers.

  6. Simon

    Scary people indeed

  7. Andrew J. Smith

    Australia was supposed to follow NewsCorp & the IPA into becoming a bad US knock off while demographics and beliefs allowed leveraging the electorate (before ‘the great replacement’); ditto the UK.

  8. David

    Knowing the true meaning of woke, if someone calls me woke I take that as a great compliment.

  9. Max Gross

    “Since when did this become a bad thing?” Since 1996 when John Lying Rodent Howard ignited the hateful nutjob fuse.

  10. wam

    The most dislike politician in the territory, for over 25 years, is kevin andrews.
    He was accused of branch stacking by misused his canberra funds>
    “Further investigation of the matters within the scope of the review is not warranted as there is not a sufficient basis to form a view that there was serious misuses of Commonwealth resources,”
    There are two issues that worry me.
    The ‘scope’ is the terms of reference. The idea of political independent reviews is no politician on the panel/commiitee.
    But the outcome(s) are predetermined by the politicians cunning terms of reference and the little bit thieving prick goes un-investigated.
    The idea of any form of ICAC without exemptions for politicians would send andrews and the xstian right into goose bumps.
    I have been involved with preferential counting for nearly 50 years.
    The AEC stopped publishing the distribution of preferences. I am waiting for the reason why we no longer have access to the full count.

  11. Terence Mills

    Compulsory voting saved Australia from going down the American path.

    In the US the far right rely on the apathy of the average voter to rally their fanatical gun toting Republican base to seize power.

    We have the same potential problem in our (or any) democracy but compulsory voting so far has motivated the moderate heartland of decent people to come out and exercise their democratic right to keep the nut-jobs out of office.

    I don’t so much feel vindicated by what happened last Saturday but I do sense an atmosphere of relief that what could have happened, didn’t.

    I see David Littleproud is standing against Joyce in the National party leadership contest. I don’t know the man but he strikes me as being genuine and intelligent and he actually comes from the land, doesn’t just wear the hat : perhaps a new direction for the Nationals ?

    I don’t expect to hear anymore from the discredited John Winston Howard who had the impudence to think that he could dismiss independents as “anti-Liberal groupies” : does he fail to understand that in our democracy any citizen has the right to nominate to represent their electorate and whilst he may find it distasteful, that includes uppity women.

    Just days after the election, when the coalition ran on their superiority in keeping electricity costs down, the Australian Energy Regulator increased the “default market offers” that apply to electricity retailers in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland by 8% to 18%, depending on type of tariffs and location. Questions need to be asked as to why this announcement was not made at the scheduled date which, I understand was 1 May.

    Chilly this morning !

  12. Awashwithcolour

    As an educated informed Aboriginal woman l am happy to be woke.
    I was accused of being woke on social media this morning by a pale stale male troll. Who’s feelings are hurt that the voters have spoken!
    I have a sense of hope that our new government has an amazing opportunity to make Australia a better place for everyone.
    That women will be listened to and consulted on safety, equality, and their rights.
    I’m hopeful that we’ll have an ICAC with teeth. I’m pleased that the Uluru statement will be the beginning for new conversations about Aboriginal people, our culture and understanding of our needs.
    For the last nine years Australian has become meaner, nastier and divided.
    Now we can witness change.

  13. Terence Mills

    When I first heard those on Sky calling out woke people as a derogatory, pejorative term for those on what they call the left, I decide to look up the contemporary use of the word.

    Merriam-Webster added the word to its dictionary in 2017, defining it as, “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” The Oxford dictionary adopted it the same year, defining it as “originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice.”

    I too am very comfortable to be woke.

  14. Paul Smith

    You say, “They chose science over faith …” No. They chose science over BELIEF! Belief and faith are not the same thing. Belief is adherence to propositions. Faith is a disposition: fidelity to the Way, the Truth and the Light. OK, if you’re not Christian faith would be fidelity to something else; but in this context, to call the agenda of the ACL and their ilk faith is tantamount to agreeing that American Evangelicals are Christians – and we all know what a dirty great big joke that is!

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