Meet the Small Parties: Rise Up Australia Party

Look, there’s one thing you can say for Rise Up Australia.  They may not be a pleasant bunch, but you do know exactly where you stand with them.  Their front page highlights their slogan “Keep Australia Australian!”, and we are assured that Rise Up Australia Party is for people from all ethnic backgrounds who call Australia home, who value our freedoms and who want to protect our Australian culture and way of life”.

So they are obviously not racist, because you can be of any ethnic background.

Currently on their front page is a press release “Faith leaders unite to protect life, faith and moral values”, which they tell us that Daniel Nalliah, their president, is one of the first party leaders publicly to endores “a statement by the eminent leaders of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths identifying the four crucial moral issues in the Victorian State election.

“Rabbi Shimon Cowen, Bishop Peter Elliott and Imam Riad Galil say in their statement that The Victorian law permitting abortion without anaesthetic until birth is the worst abortion law in the world. The UN-sponsored Safe School’s programme to promote homosexuality in schools under the guise of preventing bullying is an attack on the freedom of parents to have children raised according to the values of their faith. Labor’s proposal to force religious schools to employ staff who do not share the school’s religious faith attacks the freedom and integrity of religious institutions. All parents are entitled to obtain a religious education for their children but that neither of the major parties has announced a commitment to fulfilment of this need.”

I’m very excited to learn that we now have one eminent leader of the Christian faith (and one each for the Muslim and Jewish faiths) in Australia, and that he is Catholic.  It’s so nice to know that the One True Church has decided to embrace all of us Protestant heretics and bring us back to the fold…

And of course it would have to be Bishop Elliott, too.  As it happens, I have sat through several religious services conducted by Father Elliott.  My fellow choristers and I used to try to predict in advance whether today would be the day he was insulting to atheists, or perhaps the day he was insulting to women, or maybe even the day when he told us about how all Christians are peaceful, unlike those awful Muslims.  There was a scoring system.  It’s nice to see that he has at least found common cause with one Muslim, even if it is in this cause.

Suffice it to say that I am not even slightly surprised that he has found common cause with Rise Up Australia, a party who has never met a right-wing religious policy they didn’t like.

(I’ll leave it to members of the Jewish or Muslim faiths to comment on Rabbi Cowen or Imam Galil.  I’m guessing they are cut from a similar cloth.)

As for the four crucial moral issues, well, interestingly, the actual statement doesn’t say anything about abortion without anaesthetic until birth, possibly because that’s not the actual law in Victoria – I’ve been looking, and have found absolutely no evidence one way or the other, though I have discovered that actually getting a late-term abortion is no easier than it was before it was legalised – but it’s much more emotive and thus more fun.  Anyway, no surprises here.

The bit where preventing bullying is promoting homosexuality is – well, it’s a moral issue, alright, but not the one they think it is.  Parents may have the freedom to raise children according to their values, but children should also have the freedom not to be bullied at school because they happen to be gay, or because someone thinks they might be.  To my mind, a child’s right to not be bullied trumps a parent’s right to dictate what the school teaches. If you are a parent, you have mornings and evenings and weekends and holidays in which to instil your values into your child.  If that isn’t working, it’s not the fault of the school.

As for the right to discriminate when hiring staff, honestly, I feel less strongly about that.  And while I agree that parents are entitled to obtain a religious education for their child, I don’t see why that is something the government should pay for in a secular country.

(And has Rise Up Australia really thought this through?  I imagine that Bishop Elliott, for all that I find his particular flavour of Catholicism obnoxious, does, in fact, approve of the existence of Muslim schools in Australia, but I’d be very, very surprised if Rise Up Australia does.)

So much for the front page.  Let’s move on to the Group Voting Ticket, pausing only to note in passing that Rise Up Australia is another political party with a song.  It’s awful.  If this were Eurovision, I’d be giving Jeff Bartram douze points, the Basics Rock and Roll Party ten points, and Rise Up Australia nul points.  This isn’t about ideology, even.  My objection is 100% aesthetic.

Continue reading