With the Moonies on their way down under, what
will one of Australia’s biggest
political movers and shakers be doing to put down the welcome mat?

The Pittwater disaster at the weekend has put the microscope on the
inner-workings of the NSW Liberal Party, and much of the focus has been
on Liberal Right member David Clarke, who many suggest was the guiding
hand behind former Liberal leader John Brogden’s downfall earlier this
year.

Clarke, who has outed himself as a co-operator (which is different
to
a member) of Opus Dei – the highly
conservative wing of the Catholic Church, which opposes homosexuality
and
abortion among other things (and was the subject of last night’s Lateline) – has been fingered as a leading power
broker in the NSW right as well as a devout Moonie. A Moonie insider
has told Crikey that Clarke has been one of the group’s biggest
Australian
supporters, and back in 2003 held the first ever Oceania gathering of
Aussie Moonies at the NSW Parliament House. Check out the report of the
meeting here.

We rang Clarke’s office to find out if Clarke would
be attending the 7 December gathering at Sydney’s Sheraton Hotel, but
were told by his research assistant that he was in a party meeting and
would try and get back to us as soon as possible.

When the NSW leadership tussle broke out earlier in the year, Clarke
copped a caning from fellow Liberals for his conservative values –
especially nasty was this attack from federal Liberal moderate Joe
Hockey on the ABC’s Religion Report:

David Clarke holds extraordinary sway over the New South Wales Liberal
party; I think people all have a responsibility to ask him what he
stands for. Does he believe that termination of pregnancy should be
stopped in New South Wales hospitals? Does Mr Clarke believe that we
should go back to fault-based divorce? Does Mr Clarke believe that we
should criminalise homosexual activity? Does Mr Clarke believe we
should reintroduce corporal punishment in schools?

Clarke’s spokesperson has denied the homosexuality and corporal
punishment allegations. Fellow man of the cloth Tony Abbott has
described Clarke as a “very good bloke,” and we’d be very interested to
see which of Australia’s political elite will be turning up to the
upcoming Moonies event in just over a week.