A tipster tells us former prime minister Tony Abbott and wife Margie were at Brisbane airport yesterday morning, “all loud and ebullient”, as they headed back to Sydney. Perhaps he is enjoying not having the responsibility of a pre-election budget this week? Our tipster says the Abbotts were returning from the 60th birthday party of Santo Santoro — the former MP and Liberal powerbroker. Abbott made good use of the trip north, appearing at a function with Senator Joanna Lindgren and a number of LNP candidates at the upcoming election.
News Corp’s Samantha Maiden reported last month that Abbott would be touring around marginal seats in the lead-up to the election, although he has not been given a formal role by the Liberal Party. Lindgren was in the Abbott camp in September’s leadership spill. Abbott’s office tells us that he was in the Sunshine State to give the Father Gregory Jordan Memorial Lecture, launching a scholarship fund named after his Sydney school headmaster. He used the speech as a chance to rail against section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and defend his position on marriage equality:
“A generation ago, for instance, the challenge to the Church was the proposition that homosexuality was a fact of life and that ‘sin’ should not be proscribed by law. Today, the challenge to the Church is the proposition that same sex marriage is merely an extension of the commitment that all domestic partners should have for each other and that the Church’s conception of marriage as a sacrament should no longer be enshrined in law.
Save up to 50% on a year of CrikeySign up now
Choose what you pay, from $99.
“The traditional concept of marriage won’t be maintained by a claim that the Church’s right to free speech is under threat — though it is. It will only be maintained by preserving or by rebuilding the old consensus that, ideally at least, marriage is an exclusive union entered into for life by one man with one woman in the expectation of children.
“It can’t be denied that the traditional understanding has been battered by the growing acceptance and prevalence of divorce and remarriage. The path to same sex marriage has been smoothed by the acceptance and understanding given to gay couples, often with children. The instinctive human decency that leads us to reach out to people who are trying to make the most of their circumstances however unconventional is at odds with our instinctive support for ideals of conduct that have stood since time immemorial.”