The Rev Fred Nile and the Rev Gordon Moyes, who collectively constitute the Christian Democratic Party in the NSW Legislative Council, are the state parliament’s odd couple.

Relations between the two reverends are chilly, to say the least. In critical votes, they often find themselves on different sides of the chamber – which means one vote cancels out the other and therefore the party’s impact on parliament’s decisions is nullified.

More often than not, Nile finds himself voting with Labor while the more independent-minded Moyes will be in the lobbies with the other crossbenchers and the Opposition.

Nile, who will be 74 this year, is the grandfather of the house and a Labor favorite. In June last year his parliamentary salary was topped up by $30,000 a year when he was appointed to the preposterous Gilbert & Sullivan role of assistant deputy president of the upper house.

The promotion unexpectedly coincided with his vote against an amendment to establish a mandatory code of conduct for the funeral industry. Labor opposed it too and it was lost. CDP members were horrified by Nile’s vote and many let him know about it.

Nile was Labor’s choice to chair three parliamentary inquiries which have been deeply sensitive for the ALP: the Cross-City Tunnel fiasco, the Royal North Shore Hospital scandal and the election funding review. With Nile leaning its way, Labor had the numbers to control the proceedings from start to finish.

Moyes, the former superintendent of the Sydney Wesley Mission, entered parliament in September 2003 when he filled a casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Nile’s wife, Elaine.

Since the Nile double act came to an end, Moyes has been increasingly unhappy with his colleague. The first major flare-up occurred during the 2007 state election campaign when Nile called for a 10-year ban on Moslem immigration to Australia in a shameless attempt to sweep the gutters for the racist and Islamaphobe vote.

Earlier he had called for a ban on female Moslems wearing the traditional chador, or headscarf, maliciously claiming it could hide bombs and weapons.

The split became public earlier this month when Moyes told Quentin Dempster, host of the ABC’s NSW Stateline program, that he would oppose the Iemma Government’s legislation to privatise electricity saying, “I think there are some things in society we ought not to privatise.”

When Dempster pressed him on what Nile would do, Moyes replied:

Fred plays a different game. He doesn’t ever reveal what he’s going to do until the last moment, when he hopes that he can strike some kind of a deal with the Government. I don’t operate that way. I listen to what people say and then give my opinion, and my opinion is this is not a good deal.

The Christian Democrats hold their annual conference at the Merroo Christian Conference Centre at Kurrajong just north-west of Sydney on August 22-24 when the members will have the opportunity to question Nile about his policies and the accumulated parliamentary super from his 27 years in the upper house and his wife’s 14 years and what they intend doing with it.

As Matthew 19:24 categorically tells all Christian believers:

“And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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