The Sydney Morning Herald today reports on the latest intra-factional action in the dominant NSW Liberal Right faction under the appropriate headline “Holy warriors pitch for Liberal seats”.
And yes, this is indeed a political crusade. NSW Upper House member and Opus Dei supporter David Clarke with a small but powerful cabal of supporters are battling the “soft right” and threatening the preselections of Philip Ruddock and other allegedly moderate MP’s.
The Herald claims Clarke’s “soft right” opponents include his former staffer and Federal MP for Mitchell Alex Hawke. Yet Hawke himself appears to be playing a role in toppling another “soft righter”, former Howard enforcer Senator Bill Heffernan, whose Senate term doesn’t expire until 2011. In a scathing radio editorial on 21 July 2009, Alan Jones describes Hawke as being among ...
... the wet-behind-the-ears marshmallows … Young Liberals.
Jones asks whether Hawke really ...
... represents mainstream Liberal thinking.
Jones lavishes praise on Heffernan for his experience of ...
... life west of the Great Dividing Range.
Ah, the irony of Jones, a man apparently vilified for his sexuality, praising a Senator perhaps best known for his arguably homophobic comments concerning a former High Court Justice. Or as Melbourne writer John Heard wrote in The Australian on 24 October 2006 on the release of Chris Masters' critical biography Jonestown ...
ALAN Jones is a homosexual. Michael Kirby is a homosexual. Sadly, both men have
been targeted for vilification purely because they are attracted to their sex.
In Kirby's case, it was the Left who accused the Right of homophobia following
baseless allegations by Liberal senator Bill Heffernan in 2002. In Jones's case,
which has come to light in a new book by the ABC's Chris Masters, the Right must
accuse the Left.
Hawke’s alleged ally in the soft right, NSW Party President Nick Campbell, is a former Heffernan staffer. But as one Liberal source told me:
Campbell is one of those blokes who will tell every candidate in a party ballot that he supports them.
If Campbell believes he has a chance of taking Heffernan’s seat, he may back Hawke. If not, there could be a three-way tussle.
One interesting figure mentioned in the Herald story is Edin Dyga, staffer for ultra-conservative NSW State MP Greg Smith who supports Ruddock’s religious right opponent. In his 2007 maiden speech, Mr Smith described himself as
... unashamedly pro life and pro family ...
... though he went onto say that ...
... while I may exercise my right to a conscience vote on some issues I will
never seek to impose my religious views on others.
Smith’s staffer has expressed less conciliatory views on an e-mail group called “Ozlibs” which yours truly once moderated. In a post dated 9 May 2006 Dyga referred to ...
... the Holy Crusaders (Peace Be Upon Them) ...
... and says Muslims
... should be thankful the Holy Crusaders (Peace Be Upon Them) didn’t continue
down south and have fun with your metropolitan al wakf [religious trust],
Then on 12 November 2005, Dyga remarks:
The only religious system that has been in the core of Australia’s development
as a nation has been Christianity. Since settlement, Australia has become
secular — far too secular for my liking, but that’s just my opinion.
Dyga’s views may have changed since then. But if they reflect a wish by the religious right to roll back secularism, they’ll effectively make the Party unelectable. They’ll also be answering Nathan Rees’ prayers.
A version of this piece was first published in Crikey on Tuesday 28 July 2009.