|Fred Nile It is one of the unfortunate aspects of Fred Niles' political aspirations that apart from his wife, he tends to alienate his erstwhile New South Wales Christian Democrat Party members if they don't kowtow. And it's happening again... For the last few months, Nile has been obsessed with trying to stop the opening of a Camden area Muslim private school, attracting some unwanted attention. Nile may be a sectarian, but he's no racist, and to his credit, his CDP faction picketed a group of racist Australia First activists trying to exploit the issue to bolster their anti-immigration agenda. As Nile has worked with Christians from assorted ethnic backgrounds, and strongly opposes the League of Rights, he gave this outfit short shrift.
However, as in the past, his crusade has raised dissent within his own party ranks. In the eighties, it was Marie Bignold, who refused to support Liberal Party anti-union industrial relations reforms. More recently, ex-federal Liberal MP John Hanford was annoyed when Elaine Nile temporarily ended her retirement as the second-listed CDP MLC, and also walked away. When Gordon Moyes replaced Elaine, Fred might have thought he was out of trouble, given Moyes role as a conservative evangelical social worker at Central Sydney's Wesley Mission.
No such luck, and this time, the damage isn't limited to a single disgruntled fellow Member of the Legislative Council. Nile's antics have caused unprecedented debate inside the CDP itself, leading to Moyes posting his own opinion on Muslim immigration and religious schools of other backgrounds on his own website, which are at odds with those of Nile. Instead, Moyes advocates dialogue, listening and reflection, and last month, he published a range of similar dissenting CDP and other conservative evangelical opinions therein. Moreover, the CDP website's media release section hasn't been updated since November 2007.
What's going on here? Something interesting, if slightly ominous. In Canada, there is usually no trouble over co-belligerency between social conservatives of different faiths, as evidenced in the context of their abortive campaign against same-sex marriage, and then there's the similar conservative interfaith International Congress of Families. However, it is conservative Catholics who usually pursue this coalition approach, not their fundamentalist Protestant counterparts.
At the same time, though, these are organisational divisions, not merely personality-founded ones. If left unchecked, Nile may find that they start to eat away at his microparty's demographics for the next NSW state election, which will have some salutary benefits for the state's LGBT communities. Granted, Nile has no effect on the passage or otherwise of legislative reforms related to LGBT rights, but he remains a nuisance.
Recommended: Fred Nile: An Autobiography: Sydney: Strand Publishing: 2001. Craig Young - 13th February 2008