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September 25, 2022

Thus spake Mungo: sex, religion and politics 100 days after ScoMo’s win

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In the good old days, when officers were gentlemen and sometimes vice versa, most barracks observed an iron rule: no mention of politics, religion, or women in the mess.


Such subjects were considered not only indelicate but divisive – a distraction from the unity of purpose needed for the core business of killing off the actual enemies. And also the taboo conversations got in the way of serious drinking and healthy hijinks, the morale-building exercises so necessary to sustaining an army intent on preserving and extending the empire.

So it is painful to have to report this wholesome tradition has been completely abandoned within the mess that is the modern Liberal Party of Australia. Not only do they regard a ban on politics, religion, and women as unnecessary – they seem to talk of little else.

Politics: not to be confused with policy

Politics, of course, is the staple, the bread and butter topped with the garnish of the day. Politics is not to be confused with policy, an awkward and perplexing puzzle best left to the boffins or preferably ignored altogether.

But politics is all the go: tactics, spin, deception, conspiracy, smoke-filled rooms filled with factions and would-be warlords scrabbling to mount the dung heap from which they can crow with meaningless triumph until displaced by the next rooster on the make. Neither unifying nor edifying, but an addiction they have no interest in shaking.

And women? Well, the mere fact the Libs spend so much time assuring each other they do not have a woman problem suggests something close to an obsession.

The women involved either put up with it or occasionally complain, or even resign, after which they cease to be a problem.

But they are talked about anyway, especially by those who consider themselves the big swinging dicks who are really in charge, just as God intended.

Religion: the ‘real dog’s breakfast’

And so we get to God, or at least religion. And this is where the mess turns into a real dog’s breakfast, requiring tongs and rubber gloves to handle, and flamethrowers and fire hoses to clean out if things go awry. As they do, and have.

Our attorney-general Christian Porter has finally unveiled his package designed to mollify the disaffected rump rolled on same-sex marriage. This, of course, is not what either he or they call it: the crusaders see it as a gallant and desperate rearguard action to stop Australia sliding into the secularism guaranteed by the Australian constitution, a subversive document whose heathen overtones have only recently become apparent.

One of the more hyperbolic, Greg Sheridan, began his sermon with the absurd assertion: ‘Religious freedom is under genuine threat in Australia’. It isn’t, of course: not even the conservative Phillip Ruddock, who produced the review to bring the faithful succour and solace, said there was any need for alarm. But for the Sheridans of this world, alarm and panic are there default position.

More discrimination for less

So, against all their previously held conservative beliefs, they now want to rely on international law and convention to buttress their privileged positions against the marauding pagans at home. Porter, despite his first name, is clearly a heretic, a candidate for the stake once the holy war ends, as it must, in a theocratic victory, an Armageddon in which he unbelievers will be thrown into the fiery pit where they belong.

The mild-mannered sandgroper has ducked the apocalyptic struggle, offering only a few extra titbits for the already groaning trough. In the name of less discrimination, he is in fact planning to deliver more: further exemptions for those who claim to be godbotherers to break the laws of the land the rest of us must observe.

Profits before faith

But they will still not be allowed to run free; there will still be limitations on hate speech, although it is not entirely clear where the line will be drawn. And the right to hire and fire those who defy their contractual obligations by claiming evangelism as an excuse is to be offered a lifeline: incomprehensibly, it will be a defence for wealthy employers to claim that as long as it is an essential part of retaining their profits, the sackings can be justified.

‘as long as it is an essential part of retaining their profits, the sackings can be justified’

So even if the new legislation goes through, Israel Folau would still probably have ended up in court.

As, inevitably, will a lot of other people, because the Porter model abounds in ambiguity: an important clause relies on what is regarded as ‘reasonable’, a highly subjective idea that will have any worthwhile lawyer slavering. And in any case the zealots are not remotely interested in reason: faith is what they affirm, and they have lost it in Porter.

Fundamentalist Christians v sexual minorities

Not that their opponents are any happier: the LGBTIQ mob have correctly noted this is basically all about them: without the same-sex marriage debate it would never have happened. So Porter’s announcement is just another battle to be fought, and, like all those in the past and all those still to come, it is essentially a zero-sum conflict: every millimetre the Christians win is a millimetre they lose. They are worried religious anti-discrimination may override gender anti-discrimination; they are not sure to what extent the impending federal legislation will upend the various state laws on which they depend.

‘the Christian lobbyists, already furious they were not allowed to write the bills themselves, will be breaking down parliamentarians’ doors’

And of course Porter has only provided a draft – they know that the Christian lobbyists, already furious they were not allowed to write the bills themselves, will be breaking down parliamentarians’ doors with threats of the hideous electoral vengeance to be wreaked if they do not get their way…

Morrison has now celebrated a full year as prime minister and a full 100 days after his miraculous election win. But in spite of the boosters, he has little substantial to show for it apart from tax cuts that have proved ineffective to date and have even less prospect of success in the future. The rest of it has been all froth and bubble, the bubble he regularly derides.

We are constantly told his party is united and in good heart – but as we have seen, the tensions have not gone away, they have merely been suppressed. And the showdown over religion could well provoke a serious schism. Trouble is brewing in the mess.


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  1. Today’s column is about writing off subject and not on subject and around about things and under and over. Sorry about the mess.

  2. Goodness, Mungo… you set my hair on fire checking out
    our world & other-worldly actions. Big ‘n little churches
    being protected by lobbyists ‘n boy scouts. Yeah, & now
    the taboo of the marrying LGBTIQ kind that may be sort
    of a Judas connection. The Giddy Aunt’s on a rampage.
    She knows her onions. If Jesus -Jewish preacher – was
    also an Essene [& if not a well influenced one] became
    the heart of Christianity I reckon we can accept that.
    But there’s Judas (said to have started Christianity on a
    roll) who pocketed 30 pieces of silver & then kissed his
    boss Jesus as some sort of wake-up call – I’m stone-
    walled! Even John says Jesus then told the disciples to
    “love one another.” LGBTIG is Equality, love & affection.

  3. In these modern times with the echo of censorship in the wind in Byron and the right-wing rightious were flying fast and furious on the Byron Bypass there were to be no passing an eye or a glance at politics, religion or women for in those muddy wetlands we were messing about in a mess of swimming.

  4. The pizass has gone out of Mungo’s writing, and is not as sharp as it once was.
    If officers wre gentlemen they wouler never make it to be officers. so it shoul be “when officers were said to be gentlemen”
    And “Politics is not to be confused with policy, ..” just how could those two be confused when there is no policy but plenty of politics.
    And as for women, just where are they in the Liberal party? This is not the Labor Party.
    And the words ‘Religious freedom is under genuine threat in Australia’. is not an absurd assertion as it is on the books for parliamentary debate and it is very serious for the government. If it was absurd we would not tolerate it at all.

  5. “God under Howard, the rise of the religious right in Australian politics. Marion Maddox 2005.
    Now 15 years later that non stop electorate branch stacking of almost every electorate and Senate position, every society, institution and foundation associated with the LNP now controlled by extremist right wing Catholics and Evangelical creationist fundamentalist factions has resulted in this.
    The “Religious Freedom inquisition”.
    The LNP have now become more a fanatical religious cult than a political party.
    A deeply divided majority of extremist Catholic faction, dispise Morrisons minority Evangelical creationist faction, just waiting for their opportunity to knife one another for the plum positions and the power to persecute those the deem unworthy.

  6. Hey… hold on. It’s not Mungo who is splitting
    hairs. Political Communication Encyclopedia
    is pleased with -‘Policy’s a plan & not a law’ &
    ‘Politics equals a science & power struggle in
    the art [SICK] of governing’. (the sick is me).
    We do tolerate far too much crap from this
    mule-headed government & the ‘Religion
    Showdown’ is as crook as any fool could
    imagine because – like most ideas made up
    on the run to turn attention away from the
    positives of genuine governing ie; showing
    care & respect for the land is frightening
    stuff. Forget the gentlemen bit, some are
    rogues, others not. Assertion on the books!
    Let’s throw a boomerang at that one. First
    Nation People understand the religion of
    ‘homeland’ where Adani & his hidden
    parliamentary chums just want the rest of
    the world to choke on their property that is
    sacred & just so happens to contain coal
    they’d not ever use. Enough is enough. I’ll
    be watching & listening to the ‘late’ & great
    Gurramul documentary tonight. That is
    true religion personified.

  7. ‘Profit before faith’… Mungo’s words & ‘trouble is
    brewing.’ Wow! Freehold Land for Adani & his
    mates in the Qld Parliament. It’s not supposed to
    be legal but the Premier sorted it out so we don’t
    need to worry about that, Jo. Once again I must
    apologise for the tardy way First Nation People
    have been treated in their homeland.

  8. Well Mungo’s nearly wise words have me laughing again, thank you Mungo.
    Then my So serious neighbours wants to know what’s so funny, after they finish reading they both almost at the same time, say ” what is happening in Victoria could easily have become Australia’s course of action”.
    Don’t you just love neighbours, that are so easily wound up.

  9. There is enough of a case for religious freedom in the constitution, though a grabbag of of other state law. The 1986 Human Rights Commission Act though creates freedom for everything down to your choice of breakfast cereal . Just nullify that act and all back to normal, and the abnormal back to abnormal. It’s all funny really, your Catholics were always your Labor voters in general because they wanted an end to poverty, now they are treated as pariahs. It’s not that the religion has changed tho it faces some crises, the Left has become the religion of minorities. A dozen minorities can make for a majority I guess, usual Labor vote counting involved.


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