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Mixed messages from the religious LNP

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Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Liberal Government haven't tried to hide their religious beliefs, yet have also displayed great hypocrisy, writes Bilal Cleland.

UNDER THE HEADING ‘A major party to protect our religious freedom’,  then backbench Senator Amanda Stoker, at the time of the 2019 Election, proclaimed:

‘Never before have Christian values, and the right to express them freely, been under such attack.’

She went on to claim that the Labor, Greens and “left-leaning” independents threated such values:

‘In contrast, the Coalition understands that Christian values have in large part underpinned the success of our society…’

Now Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, Amanda Stoker recently objected to use of the term “anti-racism”:

The AHRC has been forced to temporarily pull a tender aimed at enhancing an existing anti-racism program over Stoker’s concerns that it was using taxpayer funds to promote critical race theory.

 

The $140,000 tender, which aimed to enhance the “Racism. It Stops With Me” campaign by looking at “structural/systemic and institutional racism and unconscious bias” was removed on Monday, the same day the Queensland senator called the commission president, Prof Rosalind Croucher.

This seems to be a pattern under this right-wing LNP government.

It is not long ago that ASIO altered its call for action against right-wing extremism as a result of Liberal Party protests about the offensive use of the term “right-wing”.

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said:

“‘Right’ is associated with conservatism in this country and there are many people of conservative background who take exception with being charred [sic] with the same brush.”

The Guardian reported:

‘Australian spy agency ASIO is overhauling the language it uses to talk about terrorism, dumping terms like rightwing extremism and Islamic extremism, arguing such labels are “no longer fit for purpose”.’

Meanwhile, this loudly religious government has failed to address the mounting atrocity of First Nations deaths in custody – 474 since the Royal Commission 30 years ago – and has been forced to admit that its Robodebt campaign, associated with 2,000 deaths, was illegal. It has also failed to address the long-term incarceration of asylum seekers, the drift towards reducing the cost of the NDIS by reducing accessibility and has started to sound the drums of war in response to Chinese policies.

Yet at the same time, its claims to represent Christian values are undiminished.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison presented at the Pentecostal Gold Coast conference at which he claimed to be doing “God’s work” and to be practising the laying on of hands when working as PM.

In the 2019 election campaign, while visiting the Ken Duncan Gallery on the NSW Central Coast, he believes he received a divine communication:

“The message I got that day was, ‘Scott, you’ve got to run to not grow weary, you’ve got to walk to not grow faint, you’ve got to spread your wings like an eagle to soar like an eagle’.”

The adherence to Christian values seems more Constantine than Christ when we look at the statements from Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton, who said a conflict involving China over Taiwan cannot be discounted but he insists the Government’s focus remains on having “good relations” with Beijing.

This was followed up by one of his public service allies:

‘When home affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo [who is still in Home Affairs], warned that drums of war were once again beating, he did so knowing there would be no blow back from his political masters.’

That he praised General MacArthur in his address did not go unnoticed as he was the general dismissed for wanting to use nuclear weapons in the Korean War.

Cynics saw this as a job application to go with his old boss, Peter Dutton, into the new portfolio.

Then on the next day, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced major upgrades to military bases in the Top End — but denied it was a signal to China:

‘Mr Morrison unveiled the $747 million spending package on four key training bases during his visit to Darwin in the Northern Territory.’

All of this seems far from the religion of Jesus of Nazareth who said, in the Gospel according to Matthew:

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.”

In Matthew Chapter 25, in the discussion of the separation of the sheep from the goats, it is written:  

‘Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me”.’

The fate of those without compassion, without concern for the wellbeing of the vulnerable and the weak, is laid out.

Why do they not take heed?

Bilal Cleland is a retired secondary teacher and was Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Board Victoria and Secretary of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. You can follow Bilal on Twitter @BilalCleland.

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