Month: October, 2018

Pell appalled but his recall sorely tested

Cardinal George Pell. CARDINAL George Pell threw a fellow bishop under a metaphorical bus on Tuesday.
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The cardinal described former Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns tothe Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse as if he was an absolute one of a kind –the bishop who could have done something to stop paedophile priests, but didn’t.

Bishop Mulkearns presided over the diocese from 1971 to 1997. Cardinal Pell was a senior priest in Ballarat from 1973 to 1983. Around both men swirled a series of paedophile priests who molested children, apparently with impunity.

In evidence late last yearMulkearns told the commission he was “terribly sorry” for failing to act.

“I didn’t really know what to do or how to do it,” Mulkearns said.

In his evidence on Tuesday Cardinal Pell repeatedly expressed shock about the extent of offending uncovered at Ballarat, and the bishop’s failings.

“I would have to say that I can’t nominate another bishop whose actions are so grave and inexplicable,” Cardinal Pell said of Mulkearns during an extraordinary, and riveting, four hours onhis second day ofevidence from a hotel in Rome.

“His (Mulkearns’)repeated refusal to act is, I think, absolutely extraordinary,” the cardinal said.

Iand many others, particularly in the Hunter, choked at that.

The record shows Bishop Mulkearns’ response was the rule, not the exception, and not just in Australia.

In the Hunter region prosecutions, civil cases and the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry have shown bishops routinely moved priests, consulted with other senior priests about those moves and the reasons for them, and covered up the lot.

The late Bishop Leo Clarke and the late Monsignor Patrick Cotter, to name just two, moved paedophile priests in this dioceseand beyond, including to overseas postings, after accepting the truth of allegations about the sexual abuse of children as young as four.

I have in front of me Bishop Clarke’s letter to priest Denis McAlinden on October 19, 1995, telling McAlinden he wanted to defrock him with his “good name protected by the confidential nature of this process”, because of decades of abuse of young girls.

One of the mostremarkable things about this remarkable document is how many senior priests were actually involved in the process, and not just in Maitland-Newcastle diocese.

Bishop Clarke said he had “discussed the issues with Bishop Malone and the Deans”, and listened to their advice. Then there was one of the church’s rising stars who took statements about the abuse from two of the victims. Another of the church’s stars got McAlinden to make an admission, according to Clarke’s helpfully detailed letter.

And the whole process was “for the sake of souls and the good of the church”. He finished the letter to McAlinden with a “Yours sincerely in Christ”, although anyone reading it, even now, has to ask where the hell Jesus Christ is in all this.

Cardinal Pell says he can’t recall whathappened at meetings held in Ballarat when senior priests discussed some of that diocese’s most notorious priests who were thenmoved along, except for one thing –he can recall that paedophilia wasn’t mentioned.

As the Catholic Church’s number three said on Tuesday about the shocking details of one man’s sexual abuse as a child: “It’s a sad story and not of much interest to me”.

Dream birthday party redefines ‘wow’ factor

Wow factor: Ruby Robinson (centre left, with flower wreath) celebrates her 11th birthday in a stretch Hummer on Saturday. Picture: Marina NeilAS traditional birthday parties have fallen by the wayside, parents and children are always looking for the next best thing.
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Every parent knowsthe quest for something different is never-ending, as parents and children look for something unique, something different than the last party.

The younger set often start with a fast-food party, like at McDonald’s Restaurant, where prices run about $12.95 per child, includinga Happy Meal, according to the company’s website.That will get you a 90-minute party with party bags.

Mixing more fun with food, Megamania at Charlestown offers a function room with party food and access to its extensive playground. The cost is about$23 per person.

Springloaded trampoline park at Gateshead offers parties for $40 per head for two hours of access andfood platters.

Sprinkles Parties offers two character entertainers (like Cinderella and Prince Charming), magic show, activities and party bag for a maximum of $370for 25 children.

Tree Top Adventure Park in Newcastle offers parties withtwo hours of training and participation in climbing and swinging through its outdoor equipment for prices that start at $28 per person for children age 9 and under.

Oakvale Farm at Salt Ash offers an on-site party that includes party food for children and animal feeding bags for prices that top out at $265 for a group of eight.

But one of the ultimate party experiences is the stretch Hummer party, offered by Arrive First Class of Newcastle.For $550 an houron a peak Saturday ($450 the rest of the week), a pearl-white chauffeur-driven Hummer that seats 16 will rock up to your home, roll out the red carpet and welcome your young guests for an hour-long ride and provide lollies, soft drinks and bottled water.

“You could be the coolest kid on the block,” Arrive First Class co-owner Kaye Sweeney said. “It’s a party on wheels, a real ‘wow’ thing.”

The company’s twostretchHummers, extremely popular for weddings and special occasions, are fitted out with disco lighting, extensive sound and karaoke systems.

A parent or chaperone can sit in the front of the vehicle with the driver, and stops can be arranged for photos.

“It was fantastic,” Katrina Robinson of Merewether said of the surprise birthday party in a Hummershe arranged on Saturday for her daughter Ruby, who turned 11. “They had the best time. It was very, very fun.”

Mind you, it’s not just for kids.

“We had a quote for a 90thbirthday party in a Hummer just today,” Mrs Sweeney said. “It’s certainly not age specific …. Just replace the soft drink with champagne.”

Shire outrage at Lake Mac’s ‘land grab’

WYONG Shire Council is officially outraged by a Lake Macquarie City Council request for a boundary shift south into Wyong’s territory.
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Lake Macquarie Council last week voted to ask the state government to move the council’s southern boundary to include the lakeside communties of Kingfisher Shores, Summerland Point, Gwandalan, Mannering Park, Chain Valley Bay, and a section of Jilliby.

Outspoken Wyong councillor Greg Best described Lake Macquarie’s actions as“a disgrace”.

“In my view they are just trying to prop up their argument around the government’s requirements for councils regardingscale and capacity,in a desperate attempt not to be amalgamated with Newcastle,” Cr Best said.“It’s got nothing to do with what’sbestfor our community and everything to do with Lake Macquarie possibly vanishing.”

NOT IMPRESSED: Wyong Shire councillors have reacted strongly to a proposed boundary change. Picture: David Stewart

The proposed boundary shift would see the entire Lake Macquarie catchment included in the Lake Macquarie Local Government Area (LGA).

Lake Macquarie Council said a phone survey of affected residents indicated 80 per cent support for the proposed boundary shift.

Wyong Council hit back this weekvoting to “expressits outrage at Lake Macquarie City Council’s attempted land grab of this shire’s northern suburbs”.

Wyong councillors also endorsed Cr Best’s motion that“a statistically valid survey” on the proposed boundary shift be carried out in communities north of Doyalson.

Cr Best said residents in the affected suburbs had made it clear to him that they wanted to remain part of Wyong Shire.

“Enough is enough. I want to hear from the real community, the silent majority, that so often gets rail-roaded by vested interest groups,” he said.

Wyong Council will submit the results of its community surveyto the government to enable “an informed decision” be made on the matter, Cr Best said.

Last year,the state government determined that Lake Macquarie City Council was Fit for the Future, and proposed that it continue to stand alone.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Labor moves to secure sitting MPs

PAT Conroy will shift to the seat of Shortland and Joel Fitzgibbon will move to the new seat of Hunter under a federal reshuffle made possible by the retirement of Jill Hall.
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Mr Conroy willnominate for preselection inShortland “with the full support of Jill Hall”when nominations open on Tuesday.

He said the redistribution had moved “significant parts of Charlton into Shortland, including my home in Speers Point”.

“I’ve started talking to the branch officials and the key activists and they are allvery sad to see Jill retire, but have also been very supportive,” he said.

“I want to thank the electors of Charlton for placing their trust in me two-and-a-half years ago.”

Prior to the redistributionMs Hall had privately supporteda move for Lake Macquarie Councillor Chad Griffith to step into the seat whenshe retired, but the bottleneck caused by the abolition of Hunter meant a scramble to protect the sitting MPs.

“Naturally people were thinking of running if Jill Hall did decide to retire, that’s only natural and ambition is a good thing,” Mr Conroy said.

“The people involved in that succession plan are all supporting me now, which is very generous.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said he been “a resident of the Hunter electorate all of my life and I remain a resident of the new Hunter”.

It wasa “source of great regret for me” that he was no longer representing areas like Maitland and Kurri Kurri, but that “subject to Party support, I look forward to meeting and building relationships with”people within the new boundaries of the Hunter, and“the townships on the western side of Lake Macquarie”.

“With the support of the Party and local residents, I hope to continue my best efforts to make Hunter the very best it can be and a place where every resident has the greatest opportunity to pursue their hopes and aspirations for themselves and their family,” he said.

Mr Conroy said he was “disappointed” that the redistribution had abolished a Hunter seat because it meant “diminished representation” for the region, but thathe was “well placed” to deal with the issues of Shortland electors after representing the north and west and Lake Macquarie.

“Whether you live in Belmont of Toronto the issues you face are relatively similar,” he said.

“That’s why I have taken a regional approach to seeking better funding for schools and health services.”

The seat of Shortland also takes in chunks of the Central Coast, including areas like Budgewoi and Lake Munmorah, and Mr Conroy said growing up in Ettalong meant he was “not stranger” to the coast.

He said there was “no way” Ms Hall had been forced to retire.

“Anyone who knows Jill Hall knows that it’s a fantasy to suggest she could be pushed around,” he said.

“Obviously it makes things simpler but Jill made her decision well before these things happened.”

More to come

Q&A debate flares over claims same-sex marriage will lead to new ‘stolen generation’

Georgia Weymouth-Large in the Q&A audience on Monday night. Dr Kerryn Phelps and Lyle Shelton on Q&A. Photo: ABC
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Dr Kerryn Phelps, Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton, Labor MP Anna Burke and Q&A host Tony Jones. Photo: ABC

Leaked pamphlets make wild claims about same-sex marriageFeature: who are the Australian Christian Lobby?

Tony Abbott has called for the abolition of the Safe Schools program, as debate flared on ABC’s Q&A program over claims same-sex marriage would lead to a new “stolen generation”.

The comparison was first drawn by panellist Lyle Shelton, the managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, who said same-sex marriage would see babies taken from their mother’s breast.

“For two women, or two men to found a family, that involves quite often – and particularly if we start with this new policy of defining marriage – it’s not biologically possible for them to do that,” Mr Shelton said.

“We have to then look at areas of assisted reproductive technology, anonymous sperm donation potentially, and then commercial surrogacy for men.

“Now that involves taking a baby away from its mother, from the breast of its mother, and giving it to two men.

“We did take Indigenous children and babies from their mothers and give them to loving families, but the error we apologised for was for taking them from their biological mother and father.”

His sentiments were echoed by audience member Janet White, who suggested same sex marriage would see the “sacred bond” between a mother and child broken, as it was during a period of forced adoptions from the 1950s to 1970s.

The Q&A debate played out exactly how Georgia Weymouth-Large feared.

The young Melbourne woman, raised by lesbian parents, told the Q&A audience she was concerned the same-sex marriage plebiscite – expected some time after the next federal election – would bring “a lot of hate” to her family.

The Safe Schools program – a series of lesson plans designed to inform school children about homosexual and transgender issues – also dominated Monday night’s episode. The $8 million opt-in program is being reviewed by the Turnbull government following an outcry from conservative MPs.

Mr Shelton said a more generic anti-bullying program was needed in schools, instead of one based on “contested gender ideology”.

His views were reiterated by former prime minister Tony Abbott, who told News Corp on Tuesday the Safe Schools program was an exercise in “social engineering”.

“It’s not an anti-bullying program,” Mr Abbott said. “It’s a social engineering program. Its funding should be terminated.”

Christopher Bush, a Q&A audience member and one of the teachers who helped write the Safe Schools resource, said the program was created “because principals and schools asked”.

“They wanted and needed it. We know from beyondblue and Latrobe University that our programs work. Less self-harm. Less suicide. More acceptance. More understanding.”

Many of Mr Shelton’s remarks were met with jeers from the Q&A audience, while Kerryn Phelps – the first LGBTI person to be elected president of the Australian Medical Association – took umbrage with the right-wing Christian lobbyist seated next to her.

“I’m married in the USA – it’s not recognised in Australia yet. I have three children and it’s none of your business how they came about,” she told Mr Shelton.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.