Tsunami of hate

Abbott at risk from pent up hostility toward the Catholic Church.

By Gary Scarrabelotti

The child sex abuse saga is a gift for our faux Mother of the Nation, Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

It may be that she is merely responding to pent up public outrage at child sexual abuse.  There is little doubt, however, that Gillard has decided to catch the building tsunami of hatred that is about to engulf the Catholic Church because of the potential collateral damage it could inflict upon Tony Abbott as Leader of the Opposition.

Make no mistake; this Royal Commission is all about the Catholic Church.  The media has made it so.  And the future recommendations of the Royal Commission will be all about delivering into the hands of the state powers to intervene in the internal affairs of the Church.  That other organizations will become subject to the same intrusions is beside the point. No independent, large-scale institution so riles the modern secular state like the Catholic Church.

At the end of the day, people who share the values espoused by our Prime Minister — though not necessarily the PM herself — want to shut down the Catholic Church to stop it from talking about marriage, about human sexuality and its relation to family life, and about abortion.

Given her government’s record of serial policy failure, it is unlikely, that Julia Gillard has thought through the implications of calling this Royal Commission. But it is as certain as night follows day that Gillard senses that the chronicle of evil that the Commission will now draw up will serve her political purpose: and that is, to finish off Tony Abbott politically by framing him as a white, xenophobic, religious fundamentalist, woman-hater and … a Catholic.

No independent, large-scale institution so riles the modern secular state like the Catholic Church.

Julia Gillard’s October 9 speech, when she attacked Abbott for his alleged sexism and misogyny, was a subliminal attack upon Abbott for being a Catholic and a coded call to arms to all those for whom the Catholic religion is the arch cultural enemy.

How useful then to the Prime Minister to provide an outlet for the rising tide of public disgust and self-righteousness over the sexual abuse of children, above all by members of a clerical caste called into being by the Catholic Church, among other things, to set the moral standard for society.

This golden opportunity to pay out the rotten priests and religious, as well as the hapless hierarchs, who played a pea-and-thimble game to hide corrupt clergy and their deeds from view, will serve en passant to blacken Abbott as a spear carrier for the moral values of an institution widely regarded as incompetently led, discredited and hypocritical.

Given the recent Galaxy Poll — reported in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph on November 5 – showing that 51 per cent of Coalition voters prefer Malcolm Turnbull over Tony Abbott as Leader of the Opposition, Labor would be hoping to precipitate a leadership crisis within the federal parliamentary Liberal Party that would bring Turnbull back as leader.

You see, Labor is confident that it can beat a Turnbull-led Opposition, but it’s not confident that it can beat an Abbott-led Opposition, as personally unpopular as he has become.  Those people in the Liberal Party — and the fringes thereof — who dream of a Turnbull comeback need to remember this. In any case, there is at present no appetite among Liberal MPs and Senators for recalling Turnbull. That could change, however, if Abbott does not realize that his strategy of Churchillian opposition to the Gillard government has run its course.

The problem for Abbott is that the Parliament offers temptations to the happy warrior side of his character that seem, on occasion, too great for him to resist. Churchill is not a good model for a man of Abbott’s temperament: Ronald Reagan is a better.  The challenge is no longer to beat Gillard in the Parliament. That game has been lost and Abbott knows it.  The challenge is to woo and win the people with an extra-parliamentary campaign of Reaganesque vision and rhetoric.

Unless Abbott can change gear, the more inclined the voters will be to believe Gillard’s story about the kind of man he is. He needs to change direction fast. A tsunami is coming and, if he is in the wrong place, it could wash him away.

This article was also published on HenryThornton.com.

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