By Mike Welsh
Australian Opposition leader Bill Shorten is extremely optimistic if nothing else.
As guest speaker at the Australian Christian Lobby’s annual conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra this weekend, the “parachuted” hero of the Beaconsfield Gold mine rescue blatantly mined another rich vein of gold, the precious political type which flows from the conservative Christian vote. And he may just have scored the gold medal for sheer unadulterated political gall along the way.
“Shorten clearly expects to be able to have his “Kate and Edith too” on the same sex issue”
To give Bill credit he didn’t adopt the usual weasel words pollies use around contentious issues, speaking boldly about his firm support of Same Sex marriage to the most rusted on anti-gay group in society.
On the politically fraught issue of Marriage Equality, Bill brazenly marched onward, to the beat of a completely different drum from the conservative Christian soldiers before him in the Hyatt room.
The ACL with its Tea Party tendencies and matching unfashionable baggage on gay issues was expected to swallow Bill ‘s pious pitch..good Book, party Line and hymn Singer.
While not going into too much detail, “Brash” Bill’s clear invitation to the ACL , to quote the crude LBJ solution to the J. Edgar Hoover problem, was for it to come into the True Believer’s tent and “piss out” rather than be on the outside “pissing in”. The audacity of the man.
As Bill attempted to convince the assembled believers that he too was a “believer” rather than just another “Catholic” by chance of a school chosen for him by his folks, a measure of cynicism certainly would have invaded the hall. However the ACL, itself no slouch in manipulating the media, did after all invite Bill to be Keynote speaker.
In late 2012 former ACL head Jim Wallace was forced to deny making a link between homosexuality and tobacco in a debate over Same-Sex marriage.
Wallace told an audience at University of Tasmania that homosexuality reduced life expectancy far greater than smoking tobacco. And he struggled to dig his way out with…. “What I was saying is that on one hand we are vocal on our discouragement of people to smoke and on the other we are suppressing public dialogue about the health risks associated with homosexuality.” (Jim Wallace)
In a week which saw the faithful blindly beatify the greatest of the great True Believers, E.G. Whitlam, TB Bill even quoted parts of the Sermon on the Mount. While he didn’t dwell on that girlie bit about the “meek”, Bill’s sermon was big on The Bold Shall Inherit the Mandate.
The tweet about “Catholic” Bill becoming a “proper” Christian with #fuck (Former Ubiquitous Catholic Kid) obviously failed to “trend”.
But Bill’s testimony of his “blended” brand of Christianity at the ACL’s gathering at the Hyatt in Canberra at the weekend would have had as much impact as a Convert Preaching to the Converted. None.