The Liberal Party’s man of God and the people, Tony Abbott, has blessed Australia with his memoirs. Here, Walter Slurry, the man behind Not the Costello Memoirs, brings us the best bits:
On Work Choices…
In early 2008, a parishioner approached me after Mass with a pamphlet claiming that the Coalition Government’s workplace relations laws were immoral and attacking Cardinal Pell for not speaking out against them strongly enough. He also claimed to be from the planet Neptune and that he had photos of Pauline Hanson lap-dancing on Kevin Rudd. I immediately hired him.
But what was the Liberal Government doing that had so annoyed him? Okay, we locked kiddies up behind razor wire, lied about them being thrown overboard and allowed Jane Halton to appear on national television with Adolph Hitler’s hair cut. Yet the pamphlet the man from Neptune brandished cited a Catholic bishop who said that the Government’s workplace legislation fundamentally devalued workers, abolished the right of collective bargaining, hit hard at and “disadvantaged and vulnerable groups” and was a spectacular failure when tested against the principles of Catholic social teaching.
The Church is certainly entitled to speak its mind and, in the process, to disagree with the positions taken by governments, oppositions or individual MPs. It’s good: we know who speaks out and we know these people will burn in purgatory for being non-believers. The key question is not “do Catholics have a right to be heard?” – of course they do – but “which views, on what topics, are entitled to be called Catholic?”
As someone frequently considered “too Catholic” on abortion and as a believer in floppy eared dogmatism, the accusation of being “not Catholic enough” on workplace justice was somewhat galling, especially since the Government’s aim was to drive unemployment down and wages up. Not surprisingly, I projectile vomit when I hear such accusations. It wouldn’t be imprudent to say my pants fill with my own disposable matter when the moral kudos of the Howard Government’s objectives are questioned.
Clearly, this particular Bishop had a political disagreement with the Government but was it also a moral one? Was the Bishop perhaps deluded, his mental health under question. Was he a ding-bat, a fruit loop, a whack job, bonkers, off his rocker or high on crack cocaine? The accusation of breaching Catholic teaching, especially from a well-respected pastoral bishop, should be taken seriously and deserves a considered response. So I said to him, “f*ck you, c*cksucker,” and I have not heard from him again.
On Julia Gillard…
Julia Gillard. Many friends and colleagues ask me about our relationship. The media too are prone to fascinate on our supposed ‘love/hate’ relationship. Even my children ask me, “Daddy, do I have Julia’s nose?”
The truth is, I hold Ms Gillard in the highest esteem. There is no question Julia Gillard is Labor’s most competent parliamentary performer: she has a rapier wit, clever repartee, humorous banter and a terrific set of jugs.
Whilst I admit to a certain unbridled admiration for Ms Gillard, I am repelled by the left wing chattering media bunkum inferring that my interest is something other than professional and respectful. I blame the effects of Viagra for this scuttlebutt.
Whenever my judgments or actions are called into question I return to the Bible, the Holy Book, for guidance and inspiration. Thou shalt not covet they neighbours ass were God’s word; and even though Ms Gillard has one heck of an ass, I am reminded by the Lord that it is not mine, not even to covet. That honour goes to some barber or hair stylist or whatever the hell that Men’s Ambassador does for a living.
But the truth is that it is Julia who covets my buttocks. I’ve seen the way she looks at me during Question Time, wanton lust in her eyes. Like a schoolgirl with a crush on the coolest boy in class, Julia disguises her feelings with expressions she does not truly believe. She whispers across the dispatch box, “you baffle-eared knob stick” and “Hey Tony, you doe-eyed dork…” and “Show us your pimple skills!” But these are not what Julia really feels for me. No, she feels the old biblical urges asunder when our eyes meet. Sure, I get the raised middle finger and a hissed at comment such as, “touch me just once and I’ll snap your little doodle off and issue it as a media release,” however I accept that these displays of loathing are purely for public consumption.
I also accept that Julia Gillard and I may never consummate our relationship in the manner God asks of a man and a woman. So I resort to sexting her photos of me sans clothing, which sadly is about the closest we will ever come to being a coalition.
On Politics, Pell and Poofters…
I am very conscious of my unworthiness as a Christian and as a human being, and it is always with some reluctance that I take to the pulpit, so to speak.
Nevertheless, when duplicitous vainglorious twitters like Kevin Rudd seek to pontificate about church and state, then fair minded decent practicing Christians need to stand up and be counted. Where are you?
I recall as a young man, a man on the verge of puberty, reading about a medieval cardinal whose vow of obedience made him the equal of a sovereign prince, his vow of poverty gave him an income of 200,000 florins a year; the effects of his vow of chastity is not recorded. My vow of chastity has not yielded the same results, or so several paternity lawyers have advised me.
Nevertheless, I am not the first pious politician in Australia, and I certainly won’t be the last commentator to be troubled by the relationship of church and state. My relationship with Cardinal George Pell, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, which I will explore later (See Chapter 5, For Whom The Pell Tolls) is one that is often raised by my critics (see pages 145-567). And indeed the ABC, our esteemed and secular national broadcaster, has accused me of putting words into the Cardinal’s mouth. I can assure the ABC that it wasn’t my words that he swallowed.
As any serious political or religious observer would know, Cardinal Pell does not manipulate me and I certainly do not manipulate him. The strings that are attached to my arms and legs were there from birth. Like every other sensible politician I take what the Cardinal says seriously. I take what all senior churchmen say seriously and I certainly hope Cardinal Pell will not stop calling me just because the media likes to make too much of the admiration I have for him and indeed many other senior church people in our country.
I find it a paradox that in this country, my deep admiration for the Cardinal, indeed my respect, my love, my ungirded passion, my primeval urges, my primordial lusting – these god given feelings should not be the subject of ridicule.
I believe it would be fair to state that it is shattering class orthodoxy today that it is acceptable for environmentalists to enter politics, it is acceptable for philanthropists to enter politics, assuming because it is good to have environmental and philanthropic values in our public life, but it is deeply scary to have Christians in politics. I accept that some in the church have broken their sacred vows, that some have gone the grope with members of their congregation, that some use the terms ‘choir boy’ and ‘jail bait’ interchangeably, that some follow the Cronulla Sharks more fervently than others, however the prevailing sentiment seems to be that environmentalists and philanthropists have something to add to public life but not Christians. I find this attitude curious and hope that God smites the f*ckers who hold these views.
As a rule, I try not to talk too much about Christian politicians because no serious strand of Christianity these days would support a confessional state. Thankfully, my side of politics is of the un-serious strand.
Any politician who supports something solely on the basis of the Bible or church teaching would be letting his constituents down. Sadly, the good folk of Warringah have experienced such disappointments since I won that by-election in March 1994.
I write of politicians who happen to be Christians because while religious faith may help motivate and inspire a life in politics, it doesn’t dictate it and it certainly shouldn’t control it. My views on abortion, RU 486, stem cell research and drugs are not borne solely from my faith – in truth, I just hate these people and their faithless empty vacuous lives. That’s why they vote Labor or Green, because they are soulless atheists. My compensation is knowing a giant rotisserie awaits them.
There are several key points regarding politics and religion. First: politicians who are Christians, we are not robots, we are not programmed by the Bible, or dictated to by bishops. If I was a robot surely they would not have put such a ludicrous face on me and made such a botched job of my wiring? Would someone really make a robot replete with floppy-eared madness and itchy testicles? I rest my case.
In political matters Christians are expected to exercise judgement, not obedience. In regard to Prime Minister John Howard, I admit I was known on occasion to lay prone on the ground with my paws in the air awaiting a tummy rub and his bone. That was subservience, not obedience. There is a world of difference.
The second point is that Christians do bring something to the political process: the Inquisition, torture, Mel Gibson, a desire to see one’s opponents burned at the stake; a belief Jews got it horribly wrong and Muslims present a terrorist threat to our way of life. My faith is not a set of doctrines to be legislated for, but a set of values which should enhance and enrich the conservatives’ approach to public life.
Christians are more aware than most that the past has much to teach us and that we can’t presume to determine the future. We know, for example, that burning at the stake produces unnecessary greenhouse gases. We know that some Popes have a thing for Germans. But we don’t know what God’s standards are. I have a few ideas which I will discuss later (see Chapter 12: Why You Shouldn’t Shag Your Flatmate.)
We Catholics just believe that he made us and loves us and therefore will hardly be disappointed by the best human standards; or in my case, a shifting scale of standards that permits myriad pathological behaviour at intermittent times.
The third point is that it should be a sign of a politician’s Christian faith that such a person can make judgements without being judgemental. For example, I do not judge those lazy dole bludging drug taking rabid lefty deadbeats who litter our society like animal waste on a sidewalk; those no good dreadlocked immoral slimey protesters, peddling their atheist diarrhoea and preaching the values of watery stools. They too are God’s children, albeit adopted ones.
We should always remember the Gospel about the person without sin casting the first stone. Well, I’ve got a backyard full of f*cking boulders I’m just waiting to hurl.
Take the issue of abortion for instance. Christians are troubled by abortion not because the Bible says it is wrong but because life, even potential human life, has to be treated with respect, and that’s not religion but humanity which teaches us that. So I say abortion is wrong, expect perhaps in Anthony Albanese’s case.
The difference between a Christian and a humanist is not that one says abortion is at best the least worst option and that the other does not, but that one should be capable of understanding and forgiving impulsive and ill-considered acts while the other might not. That’s why when I had several impulsive and ill-considered nights, I told my fellow traveller to bear the child, then leave it on a doorstep or give it to someone sterile. That was a very Christian thing to do.
Politics is a rough and tumble business (See Chapter 16: Christopher Pyne Enjoys a Rough and Tumble Business). There are Christians in all political parties. No one side has a monopoly on virtue or faith, and my side of politics doesn’t even have a duopoly. I know that my friend and colleague Kevin Rudd is a Christian – except when he’s abusing his staff, berating an adviser, tearing strips off a departmental manager or talking to Greg Combet. Yet Mr Rudd went to water over Stem Cells, he dropped the holy basket when it came to the Godless nation of China – in fact, Kevin Rudd has been a huge disappointment to all Christians (see Chapter 32: Rudd A Disappointment To All Labor Staffers).
On (Forced) Labour, Labor and Licentiousness …
In the encyclical, Rectum Novarum, John Paul acknowledged Pious’ moral objectives but also the different social and economic context in which they had to be pursued. Lower wages, border protection, detention centres, a muzzled press, a compliant public service, Janet Albrechtsen – these are the policies the Pope no doubt would have affirmed.
Obviously the Pope was referring to the Weimar Republic but the principles can equally apply to the Australian union movement’s organisational control of the Labor Party. In his Faith in Politics essay, Kevin Rudd complained about Christians who were against abortion but in favour of the Government. Kevin also complained about the food on his VIP flight and the quality of his butlers, so there is actually a good reason why Christians should speak with one voice on life issues but not on economic ones.
The sanctity of life is a higher order moral issue than the promotion of social justice. Besides, the best way to help the poor is to let them breed like rabbits in a never ending spiral of poverty, injustice and social exclusion. This is God’s order and we are not to question it. Why those down trodden proletariat masses cannot master the rhythm method is beyond me. Surely even a semi-educated half wit can follow a calendar or learn to withdraw at the appropriate moment?
In retrospect, Rudd’s essay looked much more like a job application than an exposition of Christian faith. Labor’s chief political problem, he once said, was loss of the “Christian vote” and he was the man who could win it back. Then he went to Scores and founded the concept of a Stimulus Package.
This charge of corrupting politics with religion is still being made 50 years on. Kevin Rudd declared during the 2002 human cloning debate that it’s “a bit rich for the Catholic Church to be lecturing the parliament on morality… although if there is a possibility of cloning me, that should be considered… “. His processor, Mark Latham said, “the Church hierarchy adopts a pious sanctimonious status where they want to lecture others about family and moral issues. Hypocritical c*nts”. On another occasion, the former Member for Werriwa attacked Lyons Forum MPs as “a group of fundamentalists boofheads with a Bible in the top drawer and a Hustler magazine and a box of tissues in their bottom drawer”. [See Chapter 18: Defence Admits it Spied on Joel Fitzgibbon and Others.]
What Latham missed, in his eagerness to prove guilt by association against his opponents, is the part Christianity has played in establishing the civil discourse he then said was necessary. There’s also a tendency among Christians in the community to think that Christians in politics have to sell out their principles in order to survive. Most assuredly what I sell is not my principles. It’s one thing to sell your vote, sell your morals, eBay your ethics, give your ideology to a Nigerian email scam, but I will never sell my principles.
The public caricature of a Christian politician is hypocrite or wuss, in denial about the ruthlessness and expediency necessary to wield power or too sanctimonious to be effective. On the other hand, with the exception of Christopher Pyne, there’s a public hunger for leaders who don’t measure success solely by the size of GDP. That said, readers might recall that Kevin Rudd now has a deficit, when popular opinion suggests the public believe he once held a whopping big surplus in his hands. Rudd’s blowing of what turned out to be a rather small budget has left him clutching for faith to explain why his stimulus package hasn’t swollen the economy.
On The Burden We Share ….
A Christian politician faces the double test of not only being an effective politician but also being a credible Christian. It may surprise readers to note I am in the process of converting to Judaism.
A Christian life means constantly striving – and constantly failing – to be more like Jesus. I see myself more as Jezebel. To me, my burden means giving other conservatives the benefit of the doubt; seeing the good in opponents; hiding one’s own light under a bushel, or other matter under there; forgiving people not once but seven times seventy; and being ambitious for the higher things rather than the higher office. Although ambition for the higher office should not be discounted. I have pimple skills and believe I have a lot to offer the Liberal Party [See Appendix A: Curriculum Vitae, Page 563, Paragraph 4].
My burden is not easy for anyone but is especially hard to reconcile with the hyper-partisan culture of Australian politics. Still, I like to believe that these are not religious values but the very best human values and those with a vocation for politics would scarcely be better Christians for shunning the challenge. Being a conceited twat helps.
Christians in public life can’t complain when others take particular delight in their moral failings. Australians have finely honed humbug detectors. In my case, they have a f*ckwit detector the size of Siding Springs. Even so, does any one really think that the world would be better without the Church seeking to draw out the “better angels of our nature”?
Okay, over centuries Christian rulers and Christian warriors have frequently fallen short of Christian ideals – or like me, fell off a f*cking cliff – but faith in a higher power and respect for enduring values remains the best inoculation against pride, arrogance, brutality and contempt for others. [See Appendix XI: Inoculations I Should Have Taken]
Coming By Boat …
As a local MP, I am regularly challenged over the Government’s policy on the detention of boat people. “How can you live with yourself as a Catholic”, the argument runs, “when your government treats women and children with such cruelty?”
First off, these people are not Christian – we fly business class; and second, they were not treated cruelly. You may recall Jesus Christ himself was bound in razor wire and that did him no end of good in the long run.
When it comes to lobbying local politicians, there seems to be far more interest in the treatment of boat people, which is not morally black and white – racially it is, but not morally – than in the question of abortion which is. Oddly enough, no local Christian has ever asked me how, as a Catholic, I can preside over a Medicare system which funds 75,000 abortions a year.
Of course, I am not personally responsible for all 75,000 abortions. In fact, a relative few could be related to my time as Minister for Health, so I fear there is no satisfactory answer to this question. Christians are not required to right every wrong. Liberals certainly are not required to even justify every wrong. John Howard wasn’t even required to promote policies for which there was no constituency.
In numerous important ways, the Howard Government has not been a creature of the zeitgeist. The Government I championed facilitated the parliamentary overthrow of the Northern Territory’s assisted suicide law, banned human cloning, stopped the ACT heroin trial, backed the Catholic bishops’ challenge to lesbian IVF, singled out stay-at-home mums for extra financial assistance, generously helped religious schools and, most recently, sought to allow Catholic schools to offer scholarships to male teachers.
Yet every f*cking Muslim terrorists, Jewish Danby-ite and atheist buttock worshipper attacked me and John Howard for not enhancing religious tolerance towards towel-headed suicide bombers and fat women in burkas flooding our shores. Religious tolerance goes only so far. Lock them up until they concert, I say…