Wednesday 22nd of September 2021

the santamaria-zation of australia...

catholic boys...

The old Catholic-based Democratic Labor Party — a product of Labor's split of the 1950s — is "alive and well and living inside the Howard Government", Health Minister Tony Abbott says.

In a speech to be delivered today, Mr Abbott also says that in Kevin Rudd the Catholic-influenced "shoppies' union" group in the ALP "has a leader who should at least give them a fair hearing".

Mr Abbott will make the comments in launching B. A. Santamaria: Your Most Obedient Servant, Selected Letters, 1938- 1996, edited by Patrick Morgan.

Mr Santamaria, who died in 1998, was a leading lay Catholic and highly controversial anti-communist campaigner who created in the early 1940s a secret organisation, "The Movement", to fight communist influence in trade unions.

Mr Abbott, himself controversial for wearing his Catholicism on his political sleeve, admits to being "under the Santamaria spell" since his youth, when he had his first contact with the Movement at a conference.

But he said that in 1994 Mr Santamaria "declined to give me a preselection reference on the grounds that it wouldn't do any good". "Deep down, I think he suspected that I might win and thus undermine his thesis that only 'castle Catholics' could ever penetrate the Anglo establishment.

"With eight Catholics now in the Howard cabinet, he was certainly wrong there. This Government's decisions to overturn the Northern Territory's euthanasia law, ban gay marriage, stop the ACT heroin trial, provide additional financial support for one-income families, and try to reduce abortion numbers through pregnancy support counselling show that the tide of secular humanism was not as irreversible as he thought."

Thirty out of 60 Labor members of the House of Representatives taking an affirmation rather than an oath and "Lindsay Tanner declaring Labor 'the party of the socially progressive secular society' tends to confirm Santamaria's prejudices", Mr Abbott says. "On the other hand, the election of Kevin Rudd as leader tends to confound them."


Gus: This article from Michelle Grattan in 2007 still rings alarm bells... Both Abbott and Rudd conspired in their little circles to oust Julia Gillard, MOSTLY BECAUSE SHE IS AN ATHEIST.  But of course they could not say this publicly. So they invented, with the help of Uncle Rupe, all sorts of concocted reasons, from the economy (which was running well) to education (which was on the right track)... The polls were manipulated by a plethora of pseudo-journalists and rabid commentators with the main stream media at 99 per cent against Julia...

Rudd or Abbott?... between two devious men, the worse one won... Already, my contacts in the charitable organisations are quaking in their boots... They know that despite what anyone says, the level of grants to charitable entities were cut during the Howard years and only those favourable to the government got money... Even religion-based charities got less... 

Tony Abbott, a misogynist? No, he's just an ordinary male chauvinist pig as shown by his Manistry cabinet...


a Jesuit referee for paedophiles...


I AM SORRY if you are a Christian. Your faith is under threat from philistines.

Happy clappers to xenophobes, Kevin Rudd to Tony Abbott, Hillsong to Mass, they’re playing you off the break

Rudd was nought but a pompous religionist, Abbott a Jesuit referee for paedophiles. A wall-hitter. God help us.

Boats. Foreign aid. Being in the least bit sympathetic to the tragedy that is Aboriginal Australia. Opus Dei. Hockey gave a speech to the Sydney Institute entitled ‘In Defence of God’. Does God really need defending? We’re talking omnipotent here.

It would be okay if avowedly Christian politicians had a quick squizz at #9 of the 10 Commandments:

‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’.

Ambiguous, sure, yet clear as day.

There are only ten rules, set in stone, so how hard can it be?

A Commandment like remember the Sabbath Day is easy — late up, bacon and eggs. Not committing adultery? A good Christian thinker’s response by, say, Rudd’s idol Barnhoffer, would be “define adultery” — because let’s face it, many famous Christians liked to get their rocks off in a fairly haphazard fashion. Any number of Popes, for example.

As for coveting, well, hands up all of you.

Australia has just segued from atheism, under Gillard, to religionism under Rudd and now Abbott.

Anyone who attends a seminary for a few years, until the between-the-legs stuff tears them away, is no more than a failed fundamentalist. Abbott is a peddling incarnation of B.A. Santamaria, who had his own daemons. And leg issues.

Rudd reckons he’s going to hang in as the member for Griffith. Fresh from the Gesthemane that was September 7, the man remains trapped in the cave. Will not a Samaritan roll the rock? Or at least cast the first stone?

And now Pell ‒ Cardinal Pell to you ‒ a political beast hardened in Vatican bastardry, a man with a royal telephone to both God and the PM.

His Eminence ‒ defender of abusers, keeper of the keys to the $30 million Rome pleasure palace that is Domus Australia ‒ will be working his speed dial even as you read this.

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too gross for comments..


Coalition sources have accused Cathy McGowan, the incoming independent MP for Indi, of being partially responsible for the lack of women and the absence of a science minister in Tony Abbott’s first cabinet.

Several sources have told Guardian Australia that McGowan’s ousting of rightwinger Sophie Mirabella is bad news for the status of women within the government, for science, and for Indi.

Mirabella was shadow science minister in opposition and was due to be included in Abbott’s ministry, before withdrawing when it became clear she was heading for defeat in her electorate.

“We warned of the bad consequences of putting an independent into Indi and we’ll now see those play out,” a senior Coalition staffer told Guardian Australia. “Indi now has no voice in cabinet. Cathy McGowan hasn’t got any policies and hasn’t got a single dollar committed in funding for Indi.

“All this talk of a lack of women in cabinet or a lack of a science minister – that’s a direct consequence of Cathy McGowan winning. But that’s what everyone around Cathy McGowan campaigned for and it’s what the Border Mail [the local Fairfax-owned newspaper] campaigned for.”

On the night of the September 7 election, Mirabella claimed that an alliance of the Greens, Labor, unions and the activist group GetUp! had conspired to topple her in favour of McGowan.


Gus: Meanwhile, they want us to believe that there was not a conspiracy by Mr Murdoch to support Mirabella... Pull the other leg, it rings!!!

The attitude of the rabid right, the Liberals of Australia (these SUPER-HYPOCRITES CONservatives) is beyond the pale... Always blaming others for their failings, cock ups and future marooning... It's a disgrace. It's too gross for being seriously commented upon. The Liberals (CONservatives) of this country are a shameful lot of humanity...

I must apologise for having failed to make them failed. SORRY... Let's say here in full confidence that Mirabella knowledge of science was that of a blowfish in a tank... three seconds attention span.


santamaria, variations on theme..

History repeats itself, but always with variations on the theme.

Sixty-odd years ago, a group of mostly religious social conservatives led by a Catholic zealot divided the Labor Party and condemned it to a protracted term in opposition.

Now a bunch of mostly religious social conservatives led by a couple of Catholic zealots seem to be doing their best to make it happen again. But this time they’re doing it to the Liberal Party.

Last time the main wrecker was Bartholomew Augustine Santamaria, better known as B. A. Santamaria. This time, it’s Tony Abbott and Cory Bernardi. But the war is being fought on much of the same ground and the tactics are much the same, too.

The next battle takes place this weekend, at the state council and convention of the Liberal Party’s New South Wales division. It is ominously titled in the plural: “Party Futures”.

The forces of the hard right have already enumerated alternative futures. One option is for the currently dominant moderate faction to agree to constitutional reform being proposed by Abbott’s Warringah branch, a change that is widely seen as a means by which the right can branch-stack its way back to control, as it has done before. The other option is to watch them walk away from the Liberal Party.

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for a a secular republic...


By Max Wallace



Legal cases both here and overseas highlight reasons why our theocratic Government needs to make a clear separation between church and state, writes Max Wallace.

IN A LETTER to The Age, 2 September 1988, George Pell, then Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, said:

‘All Australian Christians believe in the separation of church and state [and] believe in the free cooperation of church and state in certain activities... we do not want to endanger this by going down the North American path, where such cooperation is rare and regularly challenged in the courts.’

But I say that if citizens cannot easily challenge in the courts that a compulsory Protestant prayer in the Australian Senate, as discussed below, is unconstitutional, if that is not simply a statement of fact, that is tantamount to saying the foundations of Australian law are theocratic. The legal cases discussed below provide evidence for this argument.

The Williams, Vescio and Defence of Government Schools cases

In the High Court in Canberra, there is a public display of cases the Court considers pivotal in Australian legal history. A large photo of jazz musician Ron Williams is displayed alongside text describing Williams v The Commonwealth 2012 and 2014. Those cases concerned the constitutionality of religious chaplains in public schools.

The ball started rolling towards Williams on 9 July 2008 when we contacted the now deceased solicitor, Claudius Bilinsky, at his Macquarie Street, Sydney offices. We told him about a conference our Australian and New Zealand secular groups had organised for that day in the Theatrette of the NSW Parliament, just across the street, partly to oppose the Pope’s World Youth Day (WYD) being held in Sydney the following week. WYD attracted some 300,000 “pilgrims” to Sydney.

The Catholic Church had received something more than $20 million for WYD from the Federal Government and something around $100 million from the NSW State Government. 

Mr Bilinsky was the solicitor in the case that one Carmelo Vescio was then bringing in the High Court from 5 to 9 July 2008 in preliminary hearings before three judges to argue that federal funding of WYD was unconstitutional. With Justice Michael Kirby dissenting, it did not get past second base.

Two of the judges who dismissed the Vescio case had received honorary doctorates from the Australian Catholic University. One had been the Chairman of the Independent Compensation Panel of the Catholic Archdiocese in Melbourne.

Vescio, led by barrister Peter King, former member for the federal seat of Wentworth who advanced an interesting secular argument, may have been the first serious attempt to traverse some of the ground that was previously considered in Attorney-General (Vic) (ex Rel Black) v Commonwealth (Defense of Government Schools, 1981 (D.O.G.S.) case.)

In D.O.G.S., the Australian High Court had decided that the first “establishment” clause of s116 of the Federal Constitution could not be characterised as a clause analogous to the First Amendment of the U.S. Republican Constitution that, through decisions of the Supreme Court, had barred the U.S. Federal Government from funding religious schools.

The well-publicised unequal funding division in Australia between public and mostly religious private schools, bordering now on a kind of funding apartheid, can be sourced back to the D.O.G.S. decision.

Also, despite its controversy, or more likely, because of it, the D.O.G.S. case is also curiously absent in the Canberra display of cases the High Court considers pivotal, referred to above.

In 2009 we met Ron Williams, who was livid about his children being proselytised by religious chaplains in his local public school in Toowoomba. 

Ron had returned from the U.S. state of Florida. His children had attended primary school there and any form of religious instruction in any state had been banned since McCollum v Board of Education, 1948.

When Ron found religious instruction and religious chaplains in public schools, where there was none in public schools in the U.S., he was aghast.

So, in 2009, solicitor Claudius Bilinsky was approached about running a case to argue that federal funding of religious chaplains in public schools was unconstitutional. 

Barrister Bret Walker SC and colleague Gerald Ng produced an Opinion that said a case could be won — not on the closed shop nature of the establishment clause of s116, but more on grounds that there was no federal legislation, required under the Constitution, to justify the expenditure for the funding of religious chaplains.


In the High Court display referred to above, the Court says:

‘Following the 2012 Williams case, the Government enacted legislative support for over 400 executive funding schemes whose validity was jeopardised.’

Another important argument Bret Walker made eloquently in Williams was that the federal funding of religious chaplains in public schools contravened the fourth, religious test clause of s116, concerning a test for an office under the Commonwealth.

While winning the case overall, he lost this particular argument 0-7 on the technical point that, to quote the Court again, ‘the chaplains did not hold an “office” under the Commonwealth’.

The funding went to Scripture Union Queensland. They employed the chaplains, not the Commonwealth. Of course, without the federal funding, there would be no paid religious-only chaplains in public schools at all, but for the High Court, this was beside the point. Legal reification trumped reality.

Having lost the case in the High Court, the Federal Government re-routed the funding, as allowed under Section 96 of the Constitution, to the states. They happily recycled it to the various state religious organisations that employ chaplains.

The Government ignored the Court’s finding that chaplains were of no “benefit” to students under the law. So far, over $1 billion has been paid to employ religious-only chaplains across Australia. In 2019, the Australian Capital Territory refused the money on the grounds that it contradicted the secular nature of the Territory’s public schools.

In the Canberra Times on 22 March 2021, Professor Anne Twomey made the point that other forms of government expenditures for political purposes simply ignore the constitution because no one is likely to go to the High Court to challenge it. This would be because of the significant cost in doing so with the attendant risk of facing costs if a case is lost.

She said:

‘This is dressed up in government circles as addressing “constitutional risk”. It really means “breaching the Constitution because we are confident we can get away with it”.’

The compulsory prayer in the Australian Senate

In 2017, the Humanist Society of Queensland (HSQ) sought another legal Opinion from barristers Gerald Ng and Bret Walker through Horowitz and Bilinsky on the prospects of HSQ running a High Court case to argue that the Senate’s Standing Order 50 compelling the President of the Senate to say the King James version of The Lord’s Prayer at the start of each session was unconstitutional.

HSQ had received an Advice from now Associate Professor Luke Beck at Monash University, author of the later published Religious Freedom And The Australian Constitution arguing that was so.  It looked like an open and shut case.

The point of taking such a narrowly framed case to the High Court was to have the Court hopefully declare that the prayer was unconstitutional, ipso facto, the Australian Parliament is in principle secular. A win may have also led to the abandonment of prayers in the House of Representatives, put pressure on state parliaments to follow suit and created a point for future cases.

It was not to be. Ng and Walker argued, contrary to the arguments put forward by Luke Beck, that Standing Order 50 of the Senate could not be characterised as “a law” that would be subject to possible consideration by the High Court.

Second, while they agreed that compelling the President of the Senate to say a prayer could be a breach of the religious test principle of s116 of the Constitution, which could deter an atheist or non-Christian from standing for the office of the President as there was no sanction applied to not saying the prayer, it was unlikely a religious test argument could be won.   

So, whether by intention or default, it is practically impossible to shake this constitutional monarchist grip on the Australian Senate by law.

By way of a nearby total contrast, there is the 2013 Constitution of the Republic of Fiji drafted by a panel of international experts led by Professor Yash Ghai, now Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong. Fiji scrapped its affiliation to the British Crown after the 1987 coup.

Section 4 of the Constitution declares that the Republic of Fiji is a ‘Secular State’‘religion and the state are separate’ and that persons in public office must not ‘prefer or advance’ religion over ‘non-religious belief’.

In 2016, after Cyclone Winston devastated the islands, many religious organisations pleaded with the Government for funds to rebuild their wrecked churches. The Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, would not have it. The state is secular. Churches were not government business. Scarce funds would go to repair damaged state infrastructure.

Later, on 3 June 2021, the Fijian Court of Appeal found that if a Seventh Day Adventist college accepted money from the state, it could not insist on appointing a religious principal over the head of the Secretary of the Department of Education who had the authority to confirm that an appointment should be decided by merit, not religious affiliation. 

But in Australia, as George Pell said in 1988, confirmed by WYD in 2008, with extra funding for religious schools when requested in 2020 and even federal funding for Catholic priests and other religious people who are not legally “employees” during the COVID-19 economic downturn, there is “free cooperation” between church and state in Australia.

If ever there were reasons for Australia to finally become a secular republic with a clear separation of government and religion as part of its Constitution, which our surveys find have broad public support, they are matters discussed above.



Max Wallace, PhD was the tutor in sociology and also occasionally politics at the Centre for Continuing Education at ANU from 1983 to 2003. He is now secretary of the Rationalist Association of NSW. You can follow Max on Twitter @Soft_Theocracy.


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