Monday, 20 October 2014

Poor Old Gough

UPDATE I: Miranda Devine gets out the pin and pops a few party balloons ...

UPDATE II: Thank you, Tim Blair, for reviving one of the greatest moments in Australian television:



Poor old Gough Whitlam. I can forgive him a lot, because he always made my dad laugh.

Also, God was good to him, in that Whitlam lived long enough to see his own appalling time in government bested by the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd catastrophe. No longer could any of us say, 'Whitlam's government was the worst in Australian history'. Not after that.

I never thought I'd cite The Age favourably, but their article this morning on what they call 'the right' and their recollections and opinions of the Whitlam government is actually well worth reading. It's a painful reminder of just how bad Gough's government was, and just how damaging its legacy was to ordinary Australians. And I think the last paragraph is the unkindest cut of all.

The announcement of Gough Whitlam's death was only minutes old when Alan Jones delivered 2GB listeners a critique of the Labor icon's time as prime minister.

"He damaged the economy through the absence of any prime-ministerial control," Jones said.

Jones was one of many conservative figures attempting on Tuesday to walk a fine line between respect for a deceased Australian prime minister, while standing by criticisms of his time in office.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Andrew Bolt was one of the most strident critics. "Whitlam explored the gulf between seeming and doing, and tumbled into the chasm," he wrote in his blog on the Herald Sun. "The Abbott government is even today dealing with the costly consequences and culture of entitlement bequeathed by Whitlam's decisions to give free universal medical care and university education."

Jones, for his part, acknowledged Mr Whitlam's intellectual ability and dignity. "They [Mr and Mrs Whitlam] were people of significant dignity, notwithstanding whatever your differences might be in relation to their politics." He did, however, tie Whitlam's welfare policies to Jones' own long-running crusade against "dole bludgers".

"He was the man who allegedly created the mentality of the dole bludger," said Jones, referring to the Whitlam government's reformist welfare policies that provided a multimillion-dollar increase in funding for the unemployed. "Mr Whitlam was of the view that if someone lost their job, then we should all pitch in for what would be one transitional payment from one job to the next."

Jones added that Mr Whitlam could not have foreseen "dole bludgers" remaining on welfare payments for long periods of time. "That ideological purity was abused and people became dole bludgers; he never envisaged that people would sit on that forever."

James Paterson, deputy executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank, praised Mr Whitlam for ending conscription and cutting tariffs, but said that his other policies were "regrettable".

"No prime minister changed Australia more than Gough Whitlam. He was a transformative prime minister," said Mr Paterson. "He oversaw one of the largest increases in the size of government in Australian history. It will require a Liberal prime minister as bold as Gough Whitlam to reverse that regrettable trend."

Other conservative commentators avoided discussing Mr Whitlam's controversial dismissal or domestic policies and praised him for fostering a relationship between China and Australia.

"Whatever doubts conservatives and Liberals have raised about Gough's domestic and foreign policies during the last 40 years, there is no question the PM deserves high praise for his overtures to China," said Tom Switzer, a conservative commentator and academic at the University of Sydney.

"He not just spectacularly wrong-footed Liberal prime minister Bill McMahon and even preceded Richard Nixon's historic visit, he established one of our nation's most important diplomatic relationships that has helped guarantee a prosperous Australia that is fully engaged in east Asia."

Malcolm Fraser, the former Liberal prime minister who replaced Mr Whitlam after his dismissal in 1975, and long ago cut ties with the right, chose simply to remember him as a "great Australian".
So poor old Gough, God rest his soul. He knew not what he did.

Friday, 10 October 2014

That Synod on the Family

I watched this first on Fr Z's Blog, and I'm reposting here - it's pretty full-on, so don't watch it if you're easily offended!

 
If this is too much, you might like to try Bruvver Eccles' alternative solution.
 
And if this is not your cup of tea either (gosh, you're hard to please), try Dr Gregory Popcak's new book, When Divorce is Not an Option, published by Sophia Institute Press.
 
 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Fr Benedict Groeschel - RIP

I was delighted to hear of the death of Fr Benedict Groeschel CFR on 3 October, the vigil of the Transitus of St Francis (the patron saint of this wise old Franciscan).

Why delighted? Two reasons: I knew he'd been in pain for a long time since his car accident, and now I can pray to him, as well as for him. This to me looks like a win-win situation. Plus, what an amazing time to go to God - what a sign of God's favour and a confirmation of Fr Benedict's mission in reforming his corner of the Franciscan family. (PS I was also thrilled at the death of St John Paul II, for all the same reasons).

I have been reading Groeschel's work for years now, starting with The Courage to be Chaste, and through Arise from Darkness and A Still Small Voice. I've listened to him on audio recordings, and watched him on YouTube.

I also met him once, when he came to give a talk at Tyburn, during which he uttered the unforgettable line, informed by decades of psychological practice and solid common sense:

"Most people are depressed because they live depressing lives".

(But you have to imagine this with a Bronx accent.) He was kind enough to give me a blessing afterwards, which I think did me good.

So here, by way of a treat, is the Fr Benedict Groeschel that none of us remember, just so you will be sure to recognise him in Heaven when you meet him there:

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Yes, That's Right

This is why I wrote that piece in QED today.

It's to do with being a Catholic.

When it began to emerge that numerous priests and even some bishops within the Catholic Church had been sexually abusing children, impregnating women and then disappearing, and raping young men, there was a huge outcry in this country. This is the 100% correct response to this kind of outrage.

When Cardinal Pell was accused, he immediately stepped down from office, pending an investigation. There weren't enough ways we - ordinary Catholics - could apologise to those who had been injured and scandalised.

We tried, and tried and tried, including me, to make sense of what had happened, and to learn from it, and to learn how to make sure it never happened again.

So now there's policies, and police checks, and standards, and precautions of all kinds to ensure that everyone who has contact with anyone in an official position in the Catholic Church is safe from this kind of predation.

These powers were put in place by individual dioceses, by the State, and also by the Vatican, which in 2009 gave local bishops the power to laicise clergy for certain proven offences, to save time.

What I am asking in QED is that Islam in Australia shows itself willing to go through the same purification, to disassociate itself from terrorism, IS and other forms of destructive jihad.

The Catholic Church has centralised authority which can make rules about this kind of stuff, but Islam is actually far freer in its structure. There is very little stopping local Muslim congregations from making these types of decisions themselves.

And yet they continue to avoid this.

The Catholic Church did the same thing for many years - moved priests, hid the truth, demonised complainants, and covered up for each other. That's because those in power were complicit in the wrongdoing, often quite personally.

I would suggest that the same is taking place with Islam. There is far more tacit and open support for IS, terrorism of all kinds, and militant jihad in Australia, than anyone is admitting.

This is the only reasonable explanation for the continued silence and occasionally lame response from Islamic senior figures in Australia.

Monday, 22 September 2014

On The Road Again

I will be giving a couple of talks in the Eastern States in the first week of October.

Tuesday 7 October: 9am, keynote address (one of several! I can share!),  Australian College of Mental Health Nurses 40th International Conference, Melbourne

Thursday 9 October: 'Christianity and Feminism', Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies, Hobart

I will be leaving Perth on Monday 6th, and won't be back till Friday evening. During this time, I won't be checking my gmail account, so don't be offended if I don't get back to you till the weekend (I don't do the whole device thing).

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's that time of year again, so I'd invite you to be upstanding and join Stevie Wonder in a singalong with me this Sunday.