Some thoughts on the shameful collusion between cowardly politicians, the craven media and mortgage belt bigots to stop the building of a Muslim school at Camden on the outskirts of Sydney.

In 1867, a mentally deranged man named O’Farrell fired a shot at the Duke of Edinburgh during a royal visit to Sydney. The assassination attempt caused a wave of anti-Irish and anti-Catholic bigotry across the 80-year-old British penal colony.

In his book, Life and Progress in Australasia, published in 1898, British MP Michael Davitt wrote:

No class or race deplored the act more than the Irish citizens, to whom O’Farrell’s name linked him in racial association. But their indignation, outspoken and sincere as it admittedly was, availed them nothing.

They were assailed in the most cowardly manner by the anti-Irish and anti-Catholic press, and (Sir Henry) Parkes was the chief accusing voice in openly charging plots and conspiracies, in line with O’Farrell’s act, against the Catholic people of Australia.

Parkes revelled in this wave of bigotry, and rode upon it in a tempest of disgraceful popularity. Irish workers were dismissed from workshops, Irish girls discharged from domestic service, and a reign of political and party terror swept the country.

Parkes paid for a spy to be placed in O’Farrell’s cell to take down further alarmist ravings from the condemned man. “On the strength of these concocted tales of plots to murder the Royal Family and others, he (Parkes) and a renegade Irish Catholic succeeded in passing a treason-felony bill for NSW, which, among other provisions, proposed to imprison anyone who should refuse to drink the Queen’s health!”

Any similarities with the lynch mob politics at Camden overnight are simply a matter of history.

So where is Premier and Minister for Citizenship Morris Iemma, MP for Lakemba which has one of the highest number of Muslim residents in NSW?

Where is Planning Minister Frank Sartor, another high achiever from a migrant Italian family? Will he use his powers to declare the school of “state significance” and approve it as he has done with so many other controversial developments?

What of Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, who has benefited from huge federal and state hand-outs to fund Catholic schools and the World Youth Day? Perhaps some spiritual guidance?

And what of The Great Mandarin-speaking Helmsman Himself, Kevin Rudd, or is he too busy with an art-burning project flowing from his 2020 summit?

Oh, and by the way, we know where the Rev Fred Nile is: the upper house MP and leader of the Christian Democrats is leading a campaign to stop new Muslim schools in Sydney and for a 10-year ban on all Muslim immigration.

However, he recently welcomed messianic Israeli Eliyahu Ben Haim to parliament house to showcase the DVD Praying through the land which “assists Christians throughout the world to become aware of the specific prayer needs of the Messianic community in Israel”.

In one sense, last night’s unanimous council vote, accompanied by the delirious cheers of the local burghers, confirms Camden’s place in the nation’s European history. In 1803, sheep entrepreneur John Macarthur was given 5,000 acres to raise sheep there, resulting in the dispossession of the Aborigines and their eventually wiping out.

In recent years, Lady (Mary) Fairfax won approval to rezone her late husband’s sweeping estate at Camden’s Harrington Park and turn it into residential homes for hundreds of settlers from the crowded city. It was a nice deal: she is reputed to have made several hundred million dollars.

Today’s commercial radio talkback was crackling with the “good news” that Camden had been “saved”. Nice to know that after an uplifting interlude when John Howard was turfed out of office, the nation is back on track, and the Labor Party is ruling from east coast to west coast and from north to south.