Some questions for Archbishop Denis Hart about convicted paedophile priest George Ridsdale

If George Ridsdale had not been protected by the confidentiality of the confessional and the first priest who heard his confession reported him to the police would things not have turned out differently for the 65 children that he abused as a Catholic priest?

And when you weigh up the suffering of these children (and we only know of the 65, there may be more) and their families against the confidentiality of the confessional which way  does the balance tip?


On the left is the  edited photograph published in The Age of George Ridsdale appearing in court in 1993. On the  right is the actual photograph. Recognise the guy who appeared supporting  Ridsdale? 

The Age reports that “The latest admissions mean he has 161 convictions for abuse against 65 children – 60 boys and five girls – but the true figure of how many children he sexually abused, and how many lives he damaged, might never be known.”

Denis,  I know that you think the confessional is sacrosanct and here is a picture of you at the altar.


 Butthe ABC reports “The court heard Ridsdale’s offending had no boundaries, with some of the children assaulted inside the confessional box or on the altar”

Surely, you must draw the line somewhere.



Why is Turnbull so confident about the High Court decision on Barnaby Joyce?

Malcolm Turnbull has made some pretty unequivocal statements about the High Court  ruling. So most people have said he’s probably overstepping the line given the matter is before the court. Normally politicians would say, “I’d rather not comment because the matter is before the court.”


Not Malcolm.

But the act is quite clear.

Under section 44(i) of the constitution a person is incapable of being elected to the parliament if they are a “citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power.”

It is also quite clear that Joyce was a New Zealander. He has renounced New Zealand citizenship must have been one.

So what  Turnbull will be hoping is that the High Court is now going to start making distinctions about the manner in which people become dual citizens or Australians.

It is called  setting precedent  and it is about the way the law as interpreted.

It’s going to be tortuous process because the combinations and permutations are almost limitless.

At the top of the list are going to be people like Sam Dastyari. Easy.  Born  in Iran. Dad Iranian, Mum Iranian. Migrated to Australia. Clearly Iranian.   So he needs to renounce Iranian citizenship and become an Australian to stand for Parliament.

But after that things start getting messy.

Two Australian parents, have a child in Canada while working there, come back to Australia. Child could be Canadian.  Child becomes parliamentarian

Australian dad goes to Uzbekistan. Falls love.  Marries. Has baby. Wife and baby come to Australia. Wife becomes Australian citizen. Child becomes parliamentarian.

Is it different if it’s an Australian mum who goes to Uzbekistan?

And shouldn’t be important what  the laws of Uzbekistan are in relation to dual Australian citizenship?

I could go on, but you get the point.

The alternative is to take a very hard line. My limited understanding is that it is called “black letter law”, you interpret the law literally. If you do that,  Barnaby Joyce is ineligible.

Malcolm Turnbull is betting his parliamentary majority on the fact that the High Court sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns will not interpret the act in this way.

And at the heart of the matter is the very complex question of how you become a citizen of the country.  Is it where you were born? Is it the nationality of your parents?  The two can clearly be quite different.

And the decision on Joyce  will have far-reaching implications. It may affect the citizenship status of my children and children of many other people living in Australia.





Q and A crystallises the Australia Day debate

There are two sides to this debate:  leave Australia day on the 26th or move it.

The case for shifting it was made eloquently by Australian Aboriginal activist and singer Dan Sultan.


Sultan said that the Indigenous community regarded Australia Day as Invasion day and celebrating the arrival of Arthur Phillip on 26th January 1788 reminded all indigenous Australians that  his arrival was the beginning of the destruction of their civilisation and culture as well as the ongoing problems such as of deaths in custody, domestic violence and teenage suicide.

The case for not shifting Australia Day was made equal eloquently by powerful white voices led by Attorney-GeneralGeorge Brandis. The argument is that the achievements and civilisation of Australia, of which the vast majority of Australians are so proud, began with white civilisation and colonisation. This is symbolically celebrated by the arrival of Captain Cook.


And that is it really. Take it or leave it.

A small proportion of our community never be reconciled to the current arrangement.  The problem is that the vast majority simply doesn’t care.

Australians believe priests are a detriment to our wellbeing

A report released by the Australian National University says that along with along with politicians and journalists, they are the least respected professions in our society.

And you’d have to say there have been some shining examples of late.


George Ridsdale and George Pell

And it would appear that even the Catholics don’t think much of their priests and the advice they are giving.

The Age reports that: A majority of Catholics, Christians and other religious groups support same-sex marriage and are inclined to vote for it in the forthcoming postal survey, according to new polling commissioned by advocates.

The “yes” side starts the campaign with the backing of 66 per cent of all Australians, with support among the non-religious at 79 per cent, compared with 58 per cent among people of faith, the research shows

The results echoed a survey by Crosby/Textor in 2014, which also found two thirds of Catholics backed same-sex marriage, and put the overall level of support at 72 per cent.


Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart  revealed the Catholic Church was threatening to sack any of its 180,000 teachers, nurses and other parish employees who entered a same-sex marriage, if it were to be legalised

This is the man who says said he would risk going to jail rather than report allegations of child sexual abuse raised during confession, and that the sacredness of communication with God during confession should be above the law.

Well, I think most Australians would say “Off you go, Dennis!”


Who pays for Parliamentary piss-ups, Tony? You or the taxpayer?

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has defended himself for being drunk and incapacitated on the job in 2009, while slamming welfare recipients for blowing taxpayers’ money on booze

‘I was sober in the morning’: Tony Abbott defends drinking binge and  hits out at drunks on welfare

So let’s set the record straight.

Who pays for parliamentarians having a quiet and private piss-up in their office?

Not just a quiet ale, but a serious “drink yourself to a standstill” piss-up.

Do you have an expense account that covers this?  No questions asked?

It seems that you were drunk on the job. You were meant to turn up for work that night. But they couldn’t get you on your feet. It wasn’t as if you doing it on your own time, it was during work hours.

Now it would be nice to know who paid for the  “three or four bottles of wine Peter Costello, Kevin Andrews and I had over dinner.”

Did all this go on the Parliamentary expense account?

Or did these three gentlemen whip out the plastic and pay for it themselves?

You really have redefined “out of touch” with this one, Tony.

And we all thought that your government funded trip to Sophie’s wedding was going to take some beating.






Fun and games in Canberra: Pollies changing tunes and telling porkies

From The Age today “MPs change their tune”

“Nationals senator Matt Canavan and One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts have changed their tune regarding key details of their citizenship status, as the High Court began hearings on the case that has rocked Federal Parliament and placed the future of seven MPs under a cloud.

Canavan and Roberts demonstrate the comparative size of their porkies

Senator Canavan has conceded he has been an Italian citizen since he was two – when he previously blamed a 2006 application by his mother – while Senator Roberts appeared to admit that he had not filled in his British citizenship renunciation documents until after he was elected.”

To put it politely: he has been telling big fat porkies. He is a minister of the Crown and he has made up the story about his mother and Italian citizenship which was simply untrue.

It was a smokescreen to make it look as if he was unaware of this Italian citizenship. Worse than that it was a smokescreen that Malcolm Turnbull should have been aware of.

Should Senator Canavan resign from Parliament?


He is demonstrably untrustworthy. And he has lied to the Australian public, blatantly and deliberately.


Maria Canavan appears to have taken one for the bambino

Letter to My Grandson XXXXI

Dear Winton,

It is often said of only children that they spend a disproportionately large amount of time with adults and as a consequence develop their ability to communicate with adults much more quickly than they develop the ability to communicate with children of their own age.


I’m not certain if this is the case with you but Nana and I spend two whole days with you when we mind you. You spend all day Thursday with your mum and I pick you up from “school” on Friday and your dad I spend Saturday and Sunday mornings with you at soccer and swimming and that’s quite a lot of grown-up time.

During your time with Nana and me, you are very much part of our grown-up family.

A couple of nights ago, you were sitting in the bath when I put some more hot water in the bath because it was getting cold. You had complained that the bath was not hot enough despite the fact you were turning decidedly pink.

“If you think the bath is too cold, then you should get out and put on your warm pyjamas.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

Now I am not certain what was going on in your head and am equally certain that you wouldn’t have been able to explain it to me. But I think you expected that the logic of making the bath warm was putting more hot water in it was clear and that you expected that I would understand and follow that logic.

I recount this simply because it is a quite different strategy from that of bellowing your head off when you’re not getting your own way. You never cease to amaze me.

Last week, we were driving to the Prahran Market and I was sitting in the back with you in your car seat. You were holding your two armrests and using them as levers. I asked you if you were helping Nana to steer the car. You said you were. And then you off. You were flying an aeroplane.  We were off to Perth to see Nana and Papa Tresham. And then it was a speedboat. And it was a house.

“What do we call a house that we can drive?” I asked, thinking if he’s smart he’ll say  “a caravan”.

” A magic driving house.”

Silly, prosaic grandfather.

Nana recently bought you a small Lego fire engine and with an extension ladder on a trailer, a motorbike with a daring fireman called Winton who has an axe  and a fire squirter and a house that has fire on its roof and an oven inside that has caught fire.

It’s brilliant and you are absolutely fascinated. Fireman Winton has spent a whole day driving his motorbike and putting out fires. The motorbike has been named Mercury.

Last night, I said, not for the first time, “Look there is a fire on the roof.”

And you asked, not for the first time, “But why?”

“Well, it could be that a firebird has dropped some fire on the roof.”

“Or it could be a fire aeroplane. I had better look it up on my Internet.”

With that you went off and got a book about rescue vehicles that was about the size of an iPad  (interestingly not an iPad although one was available). You sat down at the table where the house was burning and read the book from cover to cover.

When you had finished you said, “I better ring up the airport.” You held your finger and thumb  up to your mouth and ear and pretended to make a phone call.

” Hello, airport. Your aeroplane is dropping fire on a house.”  You turned to me and said, “I told him to stop, Papa.”

We have an interesting way of sharing narratives. I had fondly imagined that I would tell you stories and you would sit fascinated by The Three Little Pigs etc.  You were for a while.

But generally that idea hasn’t worked out well.

I was telling you a story in the bath. I think it was Winton Jack and the Beanstalk. I had only just got into the story when you interrupted, “And Winton’s daddy came up the beanstalk too.”

“Who’s telling this story?”

“I am.”

And that pretty much sums it stories at 170 Mary Street, shared narrative, plenty of action, and a hero called Winton.

Recently, we had Winton and the Iceberg (at your request). Now, I have some clue about this one because Nana has read you the story of the Titanic. So once the ship had struck the iceberg, you took over the story and went below decks with your tools and mended the hole and got a large pump and pumped the ship dry so that it could sail away.

Happily ever after.


Why the Liberal party won’t dump Malcolm Turnbull

Peta Credlin has been predicting that Malcolm Turnbull will be out by Christmas. That may be because she only talks to Tony Abbott.


There is quite a complicated dynamic involved. Pretty much everybody probably recognises that the Coalition is going to lose the next election.  The latest opinion poll is running 54-46 against the government.   Turnbull hasn’t lost as many opinion polls as Abbott but he is closing the gap.


So the question for the hardheads in the Coalition is now “Who was going to bear the blame for leading the Government to what shaping to be a disastrous defeat in the next general election?”

Once you have asked that question the answer is probably “Malcolm Turnbull!”  because whoever is the leader is probably not going to survive more than a week after election day. So better than Malcolm.

The other thing the hardheads have probably realised is that it’s going to be very difficult to turn the tide in the next 18 months.

And someone has probably been doing some very complicated arithmetic on what a 6 to 8% swing against the government will mean in terms of who will actually be sitting on the opposition benches after an election bloodbath.

And someone may have calculated that a leadership spill may be better after that bloodbath and that a few people may have disappeared, clearing the decks for a new wave of  younger right wing conservative MPs.

In addition, there  are a number of people who must be on the wheelchair ramp for retirement.

Who is that bloke at the bottom of the picture? He pops up every now and then doing an incoherent 10 second interview between the taxicab and the back door of Parliament. But I digress.

So, paradoxically, the Prime Ministership is a poisoned chalice, a job nobody within government really wants. And this makes Malcolm Turnbull quite safe.

Is Malcolm Turnbull emerging as the natural leader of the right wing of the party?


Is there an eerie similarity between Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn the protesters Charlottesville riots and Malcolm Turnbull’s less than vigourous condemnation of the posters attacking gay parents that have appeared in Melbourne and Sydney?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has advised hugs and for marriage equality advocates


While the two incidents are of a quite different magnitude, the dynamics and the principles underlying them are quite similar. A leader is asked to make a clear condemnation of quite obvious  and deplorable situation and makes a very muted response.

The material that was printed in the posters is deeply offensive and calls for a stronger response than suggesting that people go around hugging  members of the gay community.

Has Malcolm Turnbull simply got this wrong?  Or is he simply not prepared to stand up for his personal principles because the political cost is too high.

 The material in the posters is demonstrably wrong.

The Australian Medical Association has said there is “no putative, peer-reviewed evidence to suggest that children raised in same-sex parented families suffer poorer health or psychosocial outcomes as a direct result of the sexual orientation of their parents or carers”.

The Australian Psychological Society, the peak body for psychologists, conducted a literature review in 2007 and concluded outcomes for children of homosexual parents were “on par” with those in heterosexual families.

Or could simply be that Malcolm Turnbull is slowly but surely sliding to the right and that we have been completely and utterly hoodwinked by the veneer of liberal and left-leaning liberalism that he has been painted with.

We have consistently been told that much of the Liberal party policy is at odds with his personal beliefs  on many issues  (climate change, the Republic, gay marriage et cetera) that “Lucy and I will be voting for gay marriage et cetera”

But when you look at his performance as Prime Minister there is very little to distinguish between his predecessors  Tony Abbott and John Howard.

Cast in the same mould?

 As Slammin’ Sam “Eat more lamb” Kekovich would say “Think about it, you know I’m right.”


The posters attacking gay parents are not part of the democratic process, Malcolm. And you should know it.

MALCOLM Turnbull has refused to ban anti-gay marriage signs put up in Melbourne that falsely claim most same-sex couples abuse their children.

 Malcolm Turnbull says you want a “respectful debate”

The Prime Minister said the signs were “hurtful” but they were part of democratic debate when he was grilled about them in an interview with Melbourne radio hosts Em Rusciano and Harley Breen this morning.

The signs urge Australians to “Stop The Fags” and claim that 92 per cent of children raised by gay parents are abused, 51 per cent have depression and 72 per cent are obese.

All of which  claims are demonstratably untrue.

Last night, on  Annabel Crab’s program “The House”, we saw Malcolm Turnbull spirited defence of the changes to section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act.

It should remind everybody what these posters are is an attempt to “offend, insult and humiliate” on the  basis of sexual preference.

The Prime Minister should make this clear and condemn it.

But he has not.

Another failure of leadership.