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Apr 5, 2013

Tony Abbott talks God and Western values behind closed doors

Tony Abbott delivers a sermon on the importance of Christian values, and the need to give more recognition to Australia's Western heritage, in a speech to a gala IPA dinner in Melbourne. Crikey obtained the audio of the speech.

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Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has vigorously re-entered the “culture wars” debate by decrying the lack of recognition of Australia’s Western heritage and Christian principles in our national conversation.

Crikey has obtained the audio of Abbott’s speech to a sold-out gala dinner in Melbourne last night celebrating the 70th anniversary of the libertarian Institute of Public Affairs, with Rupert Murdoch as guest of honour.

Unlike most of Abbott’s recent public appearances — in which he sticks closely to Coalition talking points — his speech was heavy on philosophy and laden with religious imagery:

“In contemporary Australia we have well and truly, and rightly, left behind the old cult of forgetfulness about our indigenous heritage. Alas, there is a new version of the great Australian silence — this time about the Western canon, the literature, the poetry, the music, the history and above all the faith without which our culture and our civilisation is unimaginable.”

The term “great Australian silence” was coined by anthropologist W.E.H Stanner in 1968 to describe how Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders had been all but erased from Australian history and consciousness. He continued:

“‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is the foundation of our justice. ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’ is the foundation of our mercy. Faith has weakened but not, I’m pleased to say, this high-mindedness which faith helps us form and which the IPA now helps to protect and to promote.”

Abbott thanked the think tank for its work defending “Western civilisation”:

“In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve believed they could do almost as they pleased. But freedom has its limits and its abuses as this foundational story makes only too clear. And yet without freedom we can hardly be human, hardly be worthy of creation in the image of God.”

Abbott said the IPA had been “freedom’s discerning friend” in Australia and had supported “capitalism with a conscience”. He said the think tank had played an extremely influential role in blocking Labor’s attempts to introduce a bill of rights, tougher anti-discrimination laws, and a Public Interest Media Advocate:

“Your campaign against the bill of rights caused a bad government to capitulate. You campaigned against the bill of rights because you understood that a democratic parliament, an incorruptible judiciary and a free press — rather than mere law itself — were the best guarantors of human rights. You campaigned against the legislative prohibition against giving offence and I’m pleased to say the author of those draft laws [Nicola Roxon] is now leaving the Parliament.”

In an aside to IPA executive director John Roskam, Abbott joked: “John, you’ve done very well with just 20 staff — remember what Jesus of Nazareth did with 12. And one of them turned out to be a rat.”

Abbott then went on to praise Murdoch, describing him as one of three Australians who have “most shaped the world” (the others being WWI military commander John Monash and penicillin developer Howard Florey):

“His publications have borne his ideals but never his fingerprints. They have been sceptical, stoical, curious, adventurous, opinionated but broadminded. He’s influenced them but he’s never dictated to them.”

Abbott concluded his speech, which received hearty applause from the crowd, by saying:

“This is a night to renew our commitment, to renew our faith. In 100 years time all of us will be gone but, please God, not the ideals and the great causes for which we stand. May it be said of us that we have passed the torch of freedom to our successors — which we do by supporting an organisation that’s bigger than any of us and that can outlive all.”

Other Coalition MPs who attended the dinner, at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria, included Greg Hunt, George Brandis, Bronwyn Bishop and Cory Bernardi. Sydney Catholic Archbishop George Pell attended as did News Limited boss Kim Williams.

Listen to Tony Abbott’s speech:


NOTE: The full transcript of Tony Abbott’s speech can now be read on his website.

Matthew Knot —

Matthew Knot

Crikey media editor

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51 thoughts on “Tony Abbott talks God and Western values behind closed doors

  1. B.C.

    It’s interesting that Tony Abbott referred to the Glorious Revolution. To quote Wikipedia

    the Revolution of 1688, was the overthrow of King James II of England (James VII of Scotland and James II of Ireland) by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau (William of Orange). William’s successful invasion of England with a Dutch fleet and army led to his ascending of the English throne as William III of England jointly with his wife Mary II of England.

    King James’s policies of religious tolerance after 1685 met with increasing opposition by members of leading political circles, who were troubled by the king’s Catholicism and his close ties with France. The crisis facing the king came to a head in 1688, with the birth of the King’s son, James Francis Edward Stuart, on 10 June (Julian calendar).[nb 1] This changed the existing line of succession by displacing the heir presumptive, his daughter Mary, a Protestant and the wife of William of Orange, with young James as heir apparent. The establishment of a Roman Catholic dynasty in the kingdoms now seemed likely. Some of the most influential leaders of the Tories united with members of the opposition Whigs and set out to resolve the crisis by inviting William of Orange to England, which the stadtholder, who feared an Anglo-French alliance, had indicated as a condition for a military intervention.

    So, is Mr Abbott defending the overthrow of a Monarch, and a Catholic one at that? Or does the think the overthrow of a leader promoting religious tolerance is a good thing?

    I also wonder which of the items on the IPA list Mr Abbott is promising to deliver?

  2. Achmed

    IPA manifesto that they will be expecting Abbott to introduce

    1 Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.
    2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change
    3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
    4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
    5 Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
    6 Repeal the renewable energy target
    7 Return income taxing powers to the states
    8 Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
    9 Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
    10 Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
    11 Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
    12 Repeal the National Curriculum
    13 Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums
    14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
    15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
    16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
    17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations
    18 Eliminate family tax benefits
    19 Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
    20 Means-test Medicare
    21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
    22 Introduce voluntary voting
    23 End mandatory disclosures on political donations
    24 End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
    25 End public funding to political parties
    26 Remove anti-dumping laws
    27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions
    28 Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
    29 Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
    30 Cease subsidising the car industry
    31 Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
    32 Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
    33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books
    34 End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
    35 Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
    36 Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit
    37 Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
    38 Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
    39 Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
    40 Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
    41 Repeal the alcopops tax
    42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:
    a) Lower personal income tax for residents
    b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
    c) Encourage the construction of dams
    43 Repeal the mining tax
    44 Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
    45 Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
    46 Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent
    47 Cease funding the Australia Network
    48 Privatise Australia Post

    49 Privatise Medibank
    50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
    51 Privatise SBS
    52 Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
    53 Repeal the Fair Work Act
    54 Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
    55 Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
    56 Abolish the Baby Bonus
    57 Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
    58 Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
    59 Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
    60 Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
    61 Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
    62 End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
    63 Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
    64 End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
    65 Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
    66 Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
    67 Means test tertiary student loans
    68 Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
    69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
    70 End all government funded Nanny State advertising
    71 Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
    72 Privatise the CSIRO
    73 Defund Harmony Day
    74 Close the Office for Youth
    75 Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

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