Until last week, Gladys Berejiklian was the leader of New South Wales. She decided to resign after the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption said it was investigating whether certain actions she took over the past decade violated public trust.
I won’t get into those details here, but her resignation meant someone else would become the Premier of Australia’s most populous state. And when two other prominent members of her party resigned, it opened the door for a very different kind of center-right leader.
That person is Dominic Perrottet (PAIR-uh-TAY), and that’s concerning for a lot of people in NSW because he’s a conservative Catholic who would be right at home in the U.S. Republican Party. He’s the new leader in one of the least religious states in an already increasingly non-religious country. About a quarter of people in NSW have no religious affiliation, and that’s likely an underestimate.
Among other things, Perrottet has opposed laws that would force priests to disclose child abuse claiming they have a religious right to keep things secret. He’s anti-abortion, anti-marriage equality, anti-trans, and anti-environment (saying climate change is a “religion for the Left”). As one website put it, he may be only 39 years old, but his political views “are extremely outdated.”
There are also several screenshots going around of a Facebook post he made in 2016 defending his views while rallying fellow bigots. It’s still up.
There is a silent majority, a forgotten people, who feel like the values they hold dear are no longer being represented by the political class.
In fact, these values and the people who hold them are looked upon with contempt.
If you stand for free speech, you are not a bigot.
If you question man-made climate change, you are not a sceptic.
If you support stronger borders, you are not a racist.
If you want a plebiscite on same sex marriage, you are not a homophobe.
If you love your country, you are not an extremist.
It’s just straight-up MAGA bullshit in another country. People who use “free speech” as an excuse to suppress honest conversations about structural racism, and people who use “stronger borders” as an excuse to turn away refugees in need of help, and so-called “patriots” who later participate in an insurrection at the Capitol, and Christian bigots who think civil rights should be subject to a popular vote should be looked down upon… and mocked and condemned and driven out of politics by more decent human beings.
If there’s any silver lining here, it’s that Perrottet is more of an anomaly in Australia politics whereas, in the U.S., he’d probably be considered a more moderate Republican. With his new position, let’s hope reporters don’t shy away from pointing out his past statements and making him constantly have to defend his bigotry no matter what he says or does.
We know all too well in the U.S. that the media loves rehabilitating conservative politicians and normalizing their views. People need to be reminded what an awful person Perrottet is before he helps other like-minded people get elected.
(Thanks to Alex and Sacha for the link)