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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.


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.


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

  1. klewso

    Surely he’s more worried about the fact that other opinions are being heard, no matter how low their resonance?
    That and the fact that there’s votes in this?

  2. willy wonka


  3. MJPC

    It’s lucky my invite to that esteemed event was lost in the mail lest I would have bought up my meal of rubber chicken at Mr Abbott’s uttering of the words “capitalism with a conscience”. Is this what he envisages will be introduced here if he wins the September election, based on what is happening in the UK (and rumored for the plebs in Australia)? Was work choices Capilatlism with a conscience?
    If anything, the leader of the opposition is ever the supreme hypocrit.
    And, as for Murdoch being a great Australian, Did Gen. Monash and Dr Florey also change their nationality to chase the almighty dollar? I missed that in the history books.

  4. Niall Clugston

    Did he really say “cannon”?

  5. The Pav

    Quite rightly Abbott refers to a free press not an incoruptable press.

    He realises that given News Ltd’s phone hacking, bribery of police, the Melbourne Storm’s Salary cap rort & News Ltd owns voting structure on shares that to use the term incorruptable in the presence of Murdoch about the press would be offensive and he certainly wouldn’t do that.

    His hypocracy knows no bounds.

    This is scary stuff. At the risk of breaking Godwins Law my mind goes back to smokey cellars in Germany in the late 1920’s & early 30’s

  6. Eddie Eindhoven

    Also thought I saw Sophie Mirabella entering the venue with Bronwyn on Lateline’s footage last night.

  7. Daly

    TA has now revealed who he truly represents and aligns with: some of the world’s richest and most flakey right wingers!
    I hope this gets enough headlines to alert the other 99.5% of Australians with a vote to ensure he is never our PM

  8. Peter

    Which Western cannon is Tony referring to? Could it be the breechloading Armstrong? It certainly had a marked influence on Western culture. Perhaps he is alluding to Napoleon’s revolutionary use of cannons in batteries: that changed the face of warfare. On the other hand, he could have in mind the role of cannonry in keeping the duration of the Anglo-Zanzibar War down to twelve minutes.

  9. Blair Martin

    Pedants corner: That would be “canon” not “cannon”, though the way Mr Rabbit goes on and on, one would not be too sure he’s not unlike Kim Jong Un in spraying it around to get attention!

  10. Liz A

    Tony Abbott likened John Roskam to Jesus? Is this the holy church of the IPA, Pope John and Chris Berg as the Cardinal in chief?

    I suppose it could be a cult. Perhaps the Church of the latter IPA Saints, IPA-entology, IPA Shinrikyo?

    In Tony’s hierarchy is Murdoch therefore god?

    The mind truly boggles.

  11. David Allen

    What a bl**dy hypocrite. If Abbott ever demonstrated a ‘Christian value’ he might have some justification in banging on about them.

    May god have mercy on our souls!

  12. Electric Lardyland

    Well, yes Tony, your pal Rupert has probably done more than any other Australian to change the world; but unfortunately not in a good way. I doubt if there has been anyone else in the history of humanity, who has done more to dumb down large sections of the population.
    Actually, I’ve just remembered, Citizen Rupe is not an Australian, is he? He became an American quite some time ago.

  13. Bill Hilliger

    Oh Boy! I’m looking forward to an Abbott/Pell government with Cory Bernardi, George Brandis, Bronwyn Bishop et, al. I’m sure that Alan Jones would fill the gap as the arts and media consultant promoting the honerable Lupert Murdook. What a team!

  14. Malcolm Street

    “Behold the man”

    So this is the fellow who will probably be our new PM come September?

    At least he has a sense of humour:

    “Abbott said the IPA had been “freedom’s discerning friend” in Australia and had supported “capitalism with a conscience”.”

    The IPA is a bunch of hard-line free market fanatics and the last thing I’d connect them with is a social conscience.

    Anyway, Abbott has shown that he’s still the reactionary Catholic fanatic I remember all too clearly from when he was Sydney Uni SRC president.

  15. Clinton's Accountant

    can you please refer to the IPA as a neoliberal/free market capitalist think tank. it’s pretty clear the IPA firmly believes in state influence in the form of regulating against markets which are in competition to their donors (where are they campaigning against regulations against wind farms? drug law reform?). far from true libertarianism.

    interesting hearing the reaction to abbott’s statement of watering down the racial discrimination act. very telling indeed.

  16. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    I wonder whether Abbott’s trolling with the “great Australian silence”, or whether he believes his words. Either way, he’s talking nonsense. They still teach Shakespeare in schools, don’t they?


    Excuse me while I vomit.

  18. Paddy Forsayeth

    I have always despised Abbott but reading this stuff I am truly appalled. We in the West spent a couple of hundred years prising the hands of the clerics from the levers of power in society. There are many religious delusionists, Abbott and Co. among them who will assist the clerics to regain control. Damn them all!

  19. Harry1951

    Does Abbott and the IPA at last night’s “love-in” really believe what they said? If so we should be quite worried about the direction an Abbott government will take this country.

  20. Simon Mansfield

    crikey – what is the point of a comment forum if you can’t write more than two words without triggering the moderation engine. Is it using people’s names – just what is it that’s offensive or bannned.

  21. Simon Mansfield

    I guess it’s me that’s banned

  22. Recalcitrant.Rick

    I started to write a longer piece, but then I realized I only have one thing to say!
    What a bunch of self righteous Pr**ks!

  23. B.C.

    A couple of points:

    Monash was probably the best Allied General in the First World War. But he did not save Paris. The allies would have won the war without him, although it might have been at much greater cost.

    “… a democratic parliament, an incorruptible judiciary and a free press — rather than mere law itself — were the best guarantors of human rights.” I guess rights of free association don’t count as human rights.

  24. aliso6

    And u can bet your little cotton socks the Royal Commission will not go much longer after September. What a disgusting performance!

  25. Mark from Melbourne

    Wonder what the MSM will make of this? HWT et al certainly gave their boss some fawning coverage on the subject of free speech. Almost believable until you take a step back and realise that Murdoch means free for him to do what ever he wants rather than freedom for us to get objective and forensic reporting.

  26. 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?

  27. Simon Mansfield

    Wow – Crikey seems to have a problem with comments about certain members of the govt. How ironic given the nature of this article. The only reason Tony is going to be PM is the current govt. Is that a comment that is now banned from Crikey. Fess up guys and explain yourselves.


    If anyone hasn’t seen the wish list (or hitlist!) of the IPA, then scroll down onto them on this page:


    They are truly astonishing in their Tea Party Tinfoil hatted madness.

  29. Andybob

    So it’s alright for a proprietor to influence his media provided he doesn’t leave any fingerprints ?

  30. CML

    I’m with Christopher Dunne – +100!! Sorry, can’t say any more, have to run…….!!!!!

  31. danny field

    depressing indeed.

    Ironic that Abbott praises Monash at a dinner for Rupert when Sir Keith Murdoch did his best to try and destroy Monash’s career.

  32. Bill Hilliger

    @aliso6: you are correct on the cotton socks. The smarmy one was there in attendance in full regalia. Loopert and Tony the Abbott will see to a RC winding up once the Abbott/Pell government aliance is formed. I just hope they wont bring back the 10% tithe to the church.

  33. zut alors

    Ironic that Abbott mentions Jesvs of Nazareth – one imagines that an exorbitantly expensive dinner for the rich and powerful is the least likely place he would’ve been seen.

  34. Steve777

    If you want to know what an Abbott government will be like, disregard what he says between now in the election. Have a look at what the Republicans in the USA. have a look at the austerity in the UK. And review the IPA website, especially its 75 point plan (with 25 more points recently added to make an even 100). And have a look at this friends. Rupert a great Australian? Well, he’s not even Australian.

  35. seriously?

    @ Christopher Dunne – can I have the bucket after you?

  36. Joel

    The Pav: I don’t think we should worry about Godwin’s laws with regard to News Limited, after their recent compare media reform ranting and lunacy. If you want to depict the entirety of News Ltd wearing swastika armbands and chanting “Heil Murdoch”, fair game.

  37. Ian

    America can have Rupert and is welcome to his friend Tony too where he can join the rest of the merry band of Republican bigots and free marketeers. Tony is a Republican is he not?

  38. Roy Inglis

    Rupert, “no fingerprints”? Is Tony blind?

  39. GF50

    Totally appalling!!Please !! the water and atmosphere needs immediate testing for brain numbing agents! Any body that votes for the LNP/MSM has to be certifiable, anyone not thinking that democracy is under direct, open, attack from this un-holy alliances is not in fit condition to exercise their vote!

  40. jeremy andrews

    This is very scary stuff. Some elements of the media have deliberately used Nazi references against Labor (several pics of Labor Politicians including the PM with hand raised, ‘Reich mentions’) but this is so close to pre-war (any war) style propaganda it’s frightening.

    What happened to the claims that LNP was ahead in thinking and planning for the ‘Asian century’?

    I suppose nobody laughed when he called Murdoch ‘broadminded’?

  41. Eddie Eindhoven

    Mr Abbott’s grand sweep of our glorious cultural history…

    From the Garden of Eden, to the Exodus, Athenian democracy, the Roman Senate, Magna Carta, the glorious revolution and American independence, the story of our civilisation has been the story of freedom and our struggles to achieve it.

    One can’t list everything ad infinitum, but you have to wonder why he’d overlook that great struggle for religious freedom, the Reformation.

    But I’m sure Cardinal Pell’s attendance had nothing at all to do with it.

  42. Achmed

    I mis-read the headline and thought it said “Abbott talks to God”, well Murdoch was there

  43. Achmed

    People should read this Institute of Public Affairs manifesto
    Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia

  44. 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

  45. Josi

    I’ve just read all of this now and I’m truly worried about all of the apathetic Australians who will vote in this man because the MSM have done a total hatchet job with the red head (with his blessings, and ‘no finger prints’). Where can we start a political petition against installing this man? I don’t like the red head but anything would be better than allowing this man to finally gain power (the power he has been selling our souls to get)!

  46. heavylambs

    Our pious expectant national leader is sucking up to a bunch of delusional carpetbaggging spivs,kissing Rupert’s ring for good measure. I really have to puke.

  47. MJPC

    Now that Mr Abbott has given his Sermon from the IPA, maybe he will start giving the rest of the voting public some policies to pontificate upon.

  48. Mike Flanagan

    At least Ached, having an elder of the catholic church embued with Pellianisms, we should soon see the young’uns out and about in the streets again.
    Pell will only be able to stay the coming public execution that the Royal Commission into paediophilia is going to preside over.
    One can see Pell’s guiding influence in much of the above and a sense of desperation in his constant attendance to Abbott.

  49. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    In fact, in the Garden of Eden (according to Genesis, Chapter 4), Adam made a complete misogynist of himself:

    8. “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
    9. And the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him, Where art thou?
    10. And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.
    11. And he said, Who told thee that thou was naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
    12. And the man said, The woman who thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
    13. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me and I did eat.
    …..16. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children and thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee.

    It’s not surprising that Tony Abbott sides with the ‘wronged’ Adam. The BigBoy of the Garden, admittedly one rib short, was too gutless to take the rap for his own weakness, instead dobbing in his hapless consort. Is this really the message the Opposition Leader wants to promote?

  50. Achmed

    Abbott’s comment making a comparison to Cyprus shows what an economic minnow he really is.

    Cyprus was about peoples savings in the bank. This is about the income made on an investment in superannuation.

    But then why would Abbott with his Economics Degree be expected to understand the difference

  51. Venise Alstergren

    HUGH (CHARLIE) McCOLL: The real point is the man who will probably become our PM on 14 September ’13, actually believes that Adam and Eve-rather than evolution-produced the first man. The bible is rich in writing, very interesting as history, but has absolutely no place being worn like a well worn shroud, in a leader of Australia in the twenty-first century. Hell Tony Rabbott probably believes Samson had the right idea on building regulations. Tell that to the workers on the construction industry building sites.

    Tell the apple story to a farmer in the fruit industry and he will have a cardiac arrest at the thought of the humble apple being cast as a catalyst for evil.

    Further, you could try telling twenty-first century females that they are doomed to spend the rest of their lives being milch-cows and being subservient to males.

    One dubious advantage the stone age shepherds, and their servile females, missed out on was to see Tony Rabbott dressed in budgie-smugglers or board shorts.

    I wish a sea snake could bite Tony Rabbott on the ärse, overnight the whole snake family could get a priceless piece of good will from the eighty percent of voters who aren’t fundamentalist religionists.

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