Who’s afraid of Perrottet ?

The selection of Dominic Perrottett as leader of the NSW Liberal Party, and therefore Premier has raised lots of concern about his conservative religious views. But the only concrete instance raised so far is a dispute over whether the Catholic Church should get management rights over cemeteries.
To see how little impact Perrottett is likely to have, consider that in the last eight years, we have had two Prime Ministers clearly aligned with the religious right, and one too weak to resist them. Despite this, the religious right has comprehensively lost the culture wars in Australia. Most of the issues that drive religious culture wars in the US have been resolved here, with hardly any fuss. Conservatives stalled on equal marriage as long as they could, but once the plebiscite went through, the issue was settled. Meanwhile state parliaments passed legislation formalising the long-standing situation on abortion rights, and setting out rules for voluntary assisted dying.


The big demand from the religious right after the equal marriage debate was a “religious freedom bill”. The motive was the spurious fear that it would be illegal to express opposition to equal marriage – in practice, this is a dead issue.


The Israel Folau case raised the separate question of whether employees could be sacked fro expressing their religious views. But far from advancing the cause of the religious right, the resulting debate has highlighted the indefensible exemption from anti-discrimination law that already exists for religious employers such as schools and hospitals, allowing them to sack gay (or non-believing) employees, exclude students and so on. Even if this exemption survives in law, it has become unsustainable in the light of adverse public opinion.

It’s much more reasonable to be worried about Perrottet’s rush to remove Covid restrictions. But that’s a subject for another post.

13 thoughts on “Who’s afraid of Perrottet ?

  1. It was a bit gutless evicting Kerry Chant from the presser today.
    If that is all the intestinal fortitude he has, God help NSW,

  2. Agree 100%. So far the religious bigotry elsewhere (it is that!) has not been justified. I too worry about his haste on opening up. A difficult few months ahead for NSW and Victoria.

  3. My only concern with the religion and political mix is that faith is seen as a viable solution to issues and that faith is supportive of anti science.

    Targeting Perrottet for his faith lacks objectivity.

  4. I tire of the “faith” debate. What is faith but blind belief without evidence? Why should blind belief without evidence by raised up as a value? A position of blindly believing without evidence deserves no respect at all. It does not deserve persecution for sure but it also deserves no special respect. The special respect shown to religion in law needs to be repealed. I refer in particular to the tax free status of religion. Talk about corporations that don’t pay taxes!

    As for opening up too soon. Yes, the neoliberals appear ready to do that and if so the costs will be extensive, in morbidity and death, especially among all the vulnerable, but not only among them. There will also be people of all ages in apparently good health, even some fully vaccinated, who will react badly to COVID-19. This will be an unlucky happenstance coming out of their own genetic makeup. They will have some mutation of their own, perhaps, or some unusual predisposition to inflammation, perhaps from exposures to toxins in the environment or at work. They will react badly and die or be left with long-COVID.

    All of this was necessary; all of this morbidity and death from COVID-19. It was all preventable. The pathogen was suppressible and it was eradicable with the proper will and procedures. When did we give up on public health and the fight against preventable illness and death? When we adopted neoliberalism of course. The people of the Victorian age (of all people!), who made great strides in public health, would be astonished at as. “They have all this science, all this understanding of disease and they just give up and let a new disease take over their countries! Astonishing! What bizarre ignorance has overtaken them?”

    The LNP and the business community who called for re-opening have sabotaged the health of the Australian people. It’s pure sabotage for their wealth accumulation. The costs of this for everyone else are enormous, human and economic, and they will borne for years to come and perhaps even decades. The costs are a hemorrhage. This hemorrhaging will go on for a long time but it will be hidden and denied. Yet it will be there and real for the entire time. Behind the scenes these costs will go on and on and will weaken families, communities and the nation. This will be a massive disease burden that we did not need to carry.

    It is almost certain that the disease burden will go on for many years. The most likely evolutionary path, given the pathogen in question and its evolutionary trajectory to date, is for more and more serious variants with immune escape, vaccine escape and even a full-blown “leaky vaccine” scenario. That could mean a disease so dangerous that most adults without vaccination will die and many of those over say 50 even with vaccinations and boosters will still struggle chronically with continuing non-fatal reinfections and the chronic long-term decay of health and early death that that implies. This is our future now, in all likelihood. A fortuitous evolution to a less harmful strain is also possible but not all that likely in the short to mid term. We are reduced to hoping this won’t turn out to be a complete disaster.

    But in a way all this makes sense. A system as maladaptive as neoliberal capitalism had to end up in this situation. It’s an axiomatic set of outcomes, a natural result of the axioms of capital. Same with climate change.

  5. If we cannot respect the religious beliefs of others then there can be no claims made to be open minded. Everyone is entitled to their own religious beliefs! Tolerance cannot be a one way street.
    I may not support the NSW Premier but I still respect his right to his own religious beliefs. As for his actions as Premier they should be criticized on outcomes not on ideology. If his actions prove disastrous then yes he should resign. But prejudging events rarely works. Even the national COVID19 modelling has experienced some embarrassing failures. This is still being largely followed by politicians across Australia.

  6. I broadly agree however there are still fronts of the culture war that have not been settled in Australia, namely trans rights. One Nation’s anti trans Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 has been endorsed by a parliamentary committee (chaired by Mark Latham and it is far from clear that it won’t pass. The “political correctness has gone too far” and “we need to protect our children” narratives still seem to get traction.

  7. To see how little impact Perrottett is likely to have, consider that in the last eight years, we have had two Prime Ministers clearly aligned with the religious right, and one too weak to resist them. Despite this, the religious right has comprehensively lost the culture wars in Australia.

    This is a cherry-picked time span and limited view that downplays the enormity of the religionist hold on and future ambitions in the country. Make it 7 successive PMs over 20 years ,,, at the least!

    “…la plus belle des ruses du Diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas!” – Charles Baudelaire

    massive tax exemptions and subsidies
    killing NT euthanasia bill
    parliamentary prayer
    government outsourcing – health, welfare, aged care..
    ratbag school chaplains v1.0
    holy see embassy
    world catholic youth blow out
    ACL promotion by an (alleged) atheist
    ratbag school chaplains v2.0 and expansion by the (alleged) atheist
    ever increasing inequality of religious private school and hospital funding..

  8. Svante, your list covers lots of things that go back well into last century. So, we can add to the losses for the Christian right
    * Repeal of laws against homosexuality
    * End of censorship
    * No fault divorce
    * Removal of lots of restrictions on Sunday activity
    * End of compulsory religious instruction in most states

    School chaplains and a once-off hand-out for a festival don’t really count for much against these changes

  9. Cheques and balances

    You’re right, and it will be interesting to see if Perrottet goes along with Latham. But I’m confident trans rights will win out, and sooner rather than later

  10. I may not support the NSW Premier but I still respect his right to his own religious beliefs. As for his actions as Premier they should be criticized on outcomes not on ideology.

    People’s past actions should, of course, be judged by their effects. However, there’s nothing unreasonable or unfair about making estimates of what’s likely to happen in the future. It’s partly guesswork, but it’s not entirely guesswork, and it is something we all do, something we all should do, and something we all have to do: and estimating what’s likely to happen in the future includes estimating what people are likely to do in the future. It would be ridiculous to suggest that people should vote in the elections as if it were impossible, or unjust, to do so on the basis of what they think politicians are likely to do in the future.

    Of course, when we’re estimating how people are likely to behave in the future, we rely a lot on what we know about how they’ve behaved in the past; that’s reasonable and fair. But there’s nothing unreasonable or unfair about also taking account of what people say about their ideological beliefs, and that includes politicians.

    To be specific, the main reason (by a long way) that I will be voting against the re-election of the Coalition government in New South Wales when the next election rolls around is the accumulated record of the Coalition parties; but there’s nothing unreasonable or unfair in treating what Dominic Perrottet says about what he believes as having some relevance. He must think it has some relevance, because otherwise he wouldn’t be talking about it. Pretending that what he says about what he believes has no relevance isn’t respecting him, it’s the opposite.

  11. Kevin Rudd was not part of the religious right but he did overstep the mark frequently when Prime Minister by having press conferences outside the Canberra church he attended. He was welcome to do what he liked of a Sunday but everyone else did not need to know. Some did not even want to know.

  12. Kevin Rudd was not part of the religious right but he did overstep the mark frequently when Prime Minister by having press conferences outside the Canberra church he attended. He was welcome to do what he liked of a Sunday but everyone else did not need to know. Some did not even want to know.

    Just as with Dominic Perrottet, the fact that Kevin Rudd chose to draw attention to his church-going was a relevant piece of information, and to insist that people should take no account of it whatever would not have been respecting him but rather the opposite. It wasn’t the only relevant piece of information, of course, just one among many others, and that was the reasonable and fair way to treat it.

  13. JQ: “Svante, your list covers lots of things that go back well into last century.”

    Lots of things going back well into last century you say? What there is to be considered well back? The three items from the late 1990s unchanged and current, or the two from the 1800s continuing lately and as ever increasing?

    Certainly the beginnings of the massive tax exemptions and subsidies for religionists go well back, as a bit less so do the massive funding of religionists’ hospitals. Those go back that extra century to the 1800s, but have they tapered off at all in this century? Not on your Nelly! The inequitable religious private school funding by the feds from just the 1970s on hasn’t tapered this century either, rather it is soaring.

    Follow the money! Follow the power. Follow the main game. Only two items on my quickie list did not involve the state funding of religionists: “killing NT euthanasia bill”, and “parliamentary prayer”. None of the five items on your list concern state funding of religionists, ie., nothing of material consequence to them. Some religionists may for the time being have taken a step back or to the side in dictating some societal rules and norms there, but on what counts long term for them they are literally laughing all the way to the bank, and louder. There also in practice now is the exercise of a religious preference in the lucrative area of migrant and refugee selection. This contributes to the highly lucrative but massively damaging ponzi Big Australia which along with consequent ghetto settlement policies has the intended religionist affect on state and federal elections. Also there is the appalling civil liberties and huge financial costs accruing now from the rise of an increasingly well funded deep security shadow state resulting from the recent rise of religionist terrorism. The religionist JobKeeper rort was also quite a nice recent earner for them…

    BTW, re hopes for voluntary assisted dying legislation in the ACT. They were recently quashed by Cash maintaining the Vatican imposed 1997 federal status quo as engineered in the back rooms of the duopoly parties by Tony Burke and Kevin Andrews for J W Howard. Now NSW shall probably emerge in a few weeks time firmly aligned with that anti-VAD political camp under the duopoly parties of Minns and Perrottet. NSW will see itself as again leading other States out of another seemingly contagious if presently mostly pending deadly pandemic shortly to afflict the other States following its respective incubation periods ending after the 2022 year end for most of them.

    Re “End of compulsory religious instruction in most states” – yes, but no substantive learning or educational instruction is allowed for those not choosing to attend religious indoctrination for that one hour per week which, for example, has lead to the recent case in the Qld Supreme Court of Noosa Satanists v Queensland.

    Re “No fault divorce” – yes under Australian Family Law from 1975, but problematical for certain christian sects regarding social and employment aspects, and I’m rather sure from past ABC and SBS coverage I’ve seen that it only goes one way under the parallel sharia law system now operating in Australia.

    Re “School chaplains and a once-off hand-out for a festival don’t really count for much against these changes” – 3,000 funded chaplains isn’t much! 30,000 “informal” and 14,000 “formal” god bothering “conversations” with students per week not much? A lazy $62 million p.a. budget for this already taxpayer enriched powerful vested minority interest not really counting for much? Many would differ on that. Jeez, that’d pay for at least around five hundred desperately needed school based APS accredited psychologists who would for such a sum no doubt deliver to the nation a far greater and positive benefit ongoing well beyond their student clients’ school years. That once-off hand-out for a popefest was for some $226 million (wikipedia) which aint to be considered much either, I suppose, but as the saying goes a million here, a million there, and pretty soon we’re talking real money which in the case of these two items alone from 2006 onward amounts to funding closing on $1 billion plus to date! Then there are the opportunity costs of $1 billion spent and compounding in other ways that could buy our commonwealth a lot more actually beneficial material good.

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