Senator David Leyonhjelm is leaving Federal politics. He won’t be missed.

Particularly not by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who would probably describe him as rude, crude and unattractive after telling her to “fuck off” and “stop shagging during a debate the Senate. 

Many commentators have pointed to the fact that Leyonhjelm was elected through the “donkey vote” and, by his own admission, most people thought that he was standing for the Liberal party when they voted for him. It is highly likely that many of the people who voted for them had no idea of what they were voting for

Leyonhjelm is a libertarian seeing government having a minimal role in society. This has been most obvious in his advocacy of unrestricted gun ownership, particularly in the matter of importing the Adler lever action shotgun ( a weapon similar to the one used in the Martin Place Siege). In the disgraceful piece of unprincipled Parliamentary negotiation, the Federal Government has agreed to allow the importation of the shotgun, in exchange for Leyonhjelm’s support on migration laws. Ultimately, the deal fell through.

He also supported same-sex marriage. But does not support bans on advertising cigarettes.

He’s had varied political career being a member of  Young Labor, the Liberal Party, the Shooters Party, the  Liberal Democratic Party (registered as the Outdoor Recreation Party). He formed a voting block with Bob Day of the Family First Party and later with Cori Bernardi, United Australia Party Senator Brian Burston and independent Senator Fraser Anning.

Both Leyonhjelm and Day have long been members of the right-wing free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. (Source Wikipedia)

Day is gone, Burston, Anning and Bernardi will not be able to muster enough votes to be re-elected. So this little blot on the face of democracy will soon be removed completely.

Robert Richter’s “No more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case” sums up the whole problem

George Pell’s defence lawyer was referring to the sexual penetration of an underage boy by a large adult. An act that was apparently accompanied by some degree of violence. Not just a large adult but an archbishop and not just an underage child, but a choirboy and committed in a Catholic Church sacristy.

And the lawyer chooses to described in this in terms of the flavour of an ice cream.

What an insult to the victim. What an insult to all the victims of clerical sexual abuse.

Victorian County Court Judge Peter Kidd disagreed, calling it “a serious example of this kind of offending”, which did not augur well for the later sentencing of the Cardinal which many will hope will not be of the plain vanilla variety

Richter could have said “at the lower end of offending” but he chose not to. And this sums up the whole problem that the Catholic Church, the Cardinal and the Cardinal’s defence team has was this case. They doesn’t seem to take it seriously.

However, the hour of reckoning is approaching.

Andrew Bolt, in the case of George Pell, your opinion is of no consequence.

The jury heard the evidence and has come to an unanimous decision.

That is what is required in a court of law.

You have not heard the evidence but have also come to a decision. This is what is required in trial by media.

The defence echoed by some in the media, that “this is not the man I know”, who were not on that jury, has no bearing on the case whatsoever.

Many people have said what a wonderful man George Pell was. Some of these people will continue to be outraged by the verdict that has been delivered. Some will accept the verdict. Time will tell.

But there are many other people who would see justice finally being done, and who harbour a deep seated resentment toward Pell. These people are the victims and the families of victims of child abuse by priests in the Catholic Church.

Jesuit priest Frank Brennan has written about the “impossibility” of Pell being able to produce an erect penis through his religious robes. (A matter in which Catholic priests must surely be able to provide expert commentary.)

Mr Richter QC, Pell’s defence lawyer, echoed this argument in court.

The court was told Pell had been able to manoeuvre his robes in order to abuse the two boys, an argument the jury ultimately accepted.

Cardinal Pell is entitled to an appeal. But it is important to remember that this appeal will not be about the facts of the case. The jury has come to an unanimous decision on these. It will be about whether the correct process of law was followed.

Surely, someone must have heard George Pell’s confession.

There must be someone, or perhaps more than one, people in the Catholic Church who have heard the confession of one of its most senior Catholic priests and who knew that he was a paedophile, molesting choirboys.

Was then no obligation on anyone to sound the alarm?

The church must be full of priests who have heard the confessions of other priests who are paedophiles and who have been protected by the Catholic Church. No redress for the victims and none for the families. It is a vast conspiracy of silence that defies the imagination.

This is the problem with the sanctity of the confessional. It allows one of the most senior priests in the Catholic Church to get away with the most horrendous crimes and use his power and position in the church to bully and intimidate anyone who dares to challenge him. But finally, one person had the courage to stand up to and brought him crashing down.

But that does not solve the problem. The Pope needs to draw a line in the sand and say “Enough, the church will no longer protect paedophiles through the confessional.” 

He needs to say that every priest who has heard the confession of another priest who confessed to being a paedophile must now make that information public. That is the line he must draw in the sand.

Every other profession in Australia is subject to the laws of mandatory reporting. 

Why is the church different? 

Guess who is missing from the list of politicians making statements about George Pell’s conviction

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison:  I respect the fact that this case is under appeal, but it is the victims and their families I am thinking of today, and all who have suffered from sexual abuse by those they should have been able to trust, but couldn’t. Their prolonged pain and suffering will not have ended today. (see post below) 
  • Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews: My thoughts are with the victims – their pain is a tragedy, their bravery an inspiration. They’ve been betrayed and so have good people of faith across Victoria. (see 2.29pm post)
  • New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian: There are no words to describe how horrible those incidents were and I think all of us are relieved that justice is being done. (see 2.05pm post)
  • Catholic archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli: My thoughts and prayers are with all victims who have been abused by clergy, religious and lay people in the Archdiocese of Melbourne at this challenging time, and I renew my personal commitment to do all I can to ensure victims of such abuse in Melbourne receive justice and healing. (1.14pm post)
  • Former New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally: It’s terrible for the victims who had to wait so long for their day in court. It’s terrible for Catholics who place their trust in the institution of the church. It’s a terrible day, I imagine, for many priests who have done the right thing for so many years, who now have this odious conviction of their clerical leader being found guilty of child sexual abuse. (4.25pm post)
  • Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young: George Pell was awarded the Order of Australia in 2005. It is only right that it now be revoked, given everything we know. The Governor General has the power to strip award holders and he should act immediately. (3.10pm)
  • Justice Party Senator Derryn Hinch: Finally, the good news is that now George Pell’s decades of predatory behaviour is out there for all to see. The sheer effrontery that he could abuse choir boys in a place of worship as the new Archbishop of Melbourne.


What I don’t get, Mathias, is…

Why the CEO of a travel company with a turnover of over $1 billion a year is personally doing your travel bookings?

The CEO in question is Helloworld chief executive Andrew Burnes who is also the honorary federal treasurer of the Liberal Party. Helloworld holds a lucrative contract worth in excess of $20b. to supply travel services to the Commonwealth government.

Isn’t there a flunky somewhere who could look after these details? Or is there is some special deal going on? And has that this deal has been going on for quite some time?

Matthias explains how big a porky is

Senator Cormann seems to have a thing about travel.

Earlier this year, he used a defence aircraft to fly to Adelaide to lobby a couple of Centre Alliance senators to support the Liberal’s business tax cuts. The exercise cost taxpayers $37,000. Presumably, there were no commercial aircraft available for this critical exercise.

ABC News

And where does Smokin’ Joe fit into all of this?

Apparently, he’s a shareholder in Helloworld and his wife is on the board. Don’t you guys get it? The Age of Entitlement is over.

Biffo, blood on office doors and unwanted hanky panky: Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party campaign off to a predictably tawdry start

I have written before that the United Australia Party Federal election campaign would be characterised by a high proportion of candidates who are political adventurers, oddballs, screwballs, nut cases, fruit loops and right-wing weirdos and all manner of loonies who will sneak under the selection radar, all keen to have their 15 minutes of fame.

There’s not much chance of any of them being elected but they will certainly be able to do a fair amount of damage to the UAP brand in the run-up to the election.

United Australia Party’s only current elected member ex-One Nation Senator, Brian Burston (originally elected with 0.18% of first preferences), has got them off to flying start.

Yesterday, we were treated to the undignified spectacle of a brawl between One Nation staffer and political opportunist James Ashby and United Australia Party senator Brian Burston. The fight following a series of sexual harassment allegations levelled against both sides of the spat: Senator Burston denied offering to “f—” a staff member to make her feel better, and retaliated by alleging Senator Hanson had twice sexually harassed him. The Age 

Happier times: Hanson ans Burston

A former staffer, who worked in Senator Burston’s team for two years, alleged she was propositioned mid-last year just after a tense meeting between staff broke up and the senator was left alone with the woman.

“I was a bit distressed and was speaking to BB [Brian Burston] in his private office when he offered to f— me to make things better,” she wrote. “I refused his approach, but inside my world shattered.”

The fight itself occurred in the halls of Parliament House and resulted in Senator Burston receiving a badly cut hand and later smearing blood on Senator Hanson’s office door. James Ashby had his parliamentary pass withdrawn, which means he can no longer enter the parliament building.

When asked whether he should resign, Senator Burston said: “Why would I? I barely even remember it.”

Senator Burston gave a short speech to the Senate admitting he had smeared blood on Senator Hanson’s office door on Wednesday evening. “Whilst I do not recall the incident of blood on the door, I now have come to the conclusion that it was myself and I sincerely apologise for that action.”

How has it come to this, when providing health care for sick people becomes an issue of national security?

By some amazing feat of logic, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his cohorts have managed to turn the medical evacuation of some 300 sick refugees from Nauru and Manus Island to Australia for treatment into a threat to the sovereignty of Australia’s borders.

Their argument is that once the people smugglers understand that people who have been detained on Nauru and Manus Island for many years are now entitled to medical treatment they have long been denied, people smuggling activities will resume in earnest. This is despite the fact that the legislation covering the medical evacuations only applies to people who are already incarcerated on Nauru and Manus. And that they will be returned after the treatment.

There have also been claims by senior government ministers that medical evacuations will result in murderers and paedophiles being released into the Australian community.

The Australian media should be more responsible than to allow this kind of scandal mongering any kind of coverage.

Tony Abbott’s big election push: more dunnies in Manly

Tony Abbott knows he’s in a fight to save his seat of Warringah against challenger, Zali Steggall, the high-profile Olympic skier turned barrister who has arrived amid a groundswell of support for liberal independents. He’s in for a fight against a very tough opponent.

So he is focusing on local issues (more toilets in Manly).

He also throwing up a smoke screen around issues like climate change and fudging the extent to which Australia is meeting its commitments to the Kyoto targets and implicitly taking the credit for it. When it comes to weasel words, this man is a master of the art.

He has a lot of loyal local supporters in the electorate but there are lot of people who remember his stand on gay marriage. The voters of Warringah voted 75% in support of gay marriage. Many see Tony Abbott’s stance on climate change as a handbrake on Australia’s reaching its carbon targets.

It may be that another three years of Tony Abbott is a bridge too far.

The Age reports: Independent candidate Zali Steggall is on track to replace former prime minister Tony Abbott as the federal member for Warringah, according to a ReachTEL poll commissioned by GetUp.

The activist group, which is campaigning to oust Mr Abbott from his traditionally Liberal seat on Sydney’s northern beaches, commissioned a poll of 622 residents that showed the four-time Winter Olympian leading 54 to 46 on a two-party preferred basis.