Nowhere Man Newman – what does he stand for?

Anna Bligh and deputy premier, Andrew Fraser were clever enough to decline the Australian Christian Lobby’s invitation to attend a pre-election political forum this week. But rookie would-be premier, Campbell Newman, waded in where angels fear to tread.

By all accounts it was a huge night with a sell-out crowd of 60 – yes, six-oh –  people knocking down the doors to hear how many pork-barrels Newman would roll out to purchase the Christian vote.

And Can-Do Campbell did his best to please the tens of Christian Lobby supporters who flocked to the forum .  Yes, it seems, he is a believer. He has ‘faith’.  Not enough, mind you, to bother going to church. But, says he, struggling to find a point of common-ground with the happy-clappers, he says grace before every meal. It’s a tenous connection with an evangelical crowd of Christian zealots, but desperate times, apparently, call for desperate measures.

Despite being on record as a supporter of same-sex marriage, Campbell Newman happily put aside what he knows to be right in the cause of political pragmatism. If it’s possible, he said, his party will rescind the civil unions legislation passed by the Queensland Parliament late last year.  That’s tantamount to someone who publicly supported Civil Rights saying he’ll reinstate segregation if it’ll buy him a few redneck votes.

What are we to think of a man whose ethics are so shallow he’s willing to cast them aside to win the leadership of a conservative party and the backing of a fringe group of unrepresentative Christian extremists?

What are we to think of a man who’ll cast a blind eye to the homophobia, Islamaphobia, and despicable divisiveness of this coven of Christian kooks to indulge their aspirations to political influence?

And what does it say about Newman’s judgement that he’ll indulge the wowserish pretensions of 60 evangelicals while alienating thousands of Australians who support a secular government untainted by the tea-party politics that is rapidly destroying America?

Add into this mix, the man most likely to be appointed Education Minister in a Newman-led government – Scripture Union Queensland boss, Tim Mander.  Mander, who has gleefully led the invasion of evangelical chaplains into Queensland’s secular state schools, must be salivating at the chance of co-opting the resources of Queensland Education into converting all those unchurched Queensland kids.

Will Newman stop to consider that Mander’s agenda is completely at odds with a secular education system? Or will he further pander to the Christian right by appointing Mander to the Education Ministry? I’d be willing to lay bets he will – and to hell with those parents who want a secular education for their kids.

Newman increasingly reminds me of  Woody Allan’s Zelig – a nothing man who’ll morph into anything to gain approval. He seems to have no convictions of his own – no ethical stances that aren’t on sale for votes.

Those who are planning to vote for Newman would do well to consider what he stands for. He stands for same-sex marriage – but will cast that commitment to equality aside for votes and the approval of his party.  He stands for Christianity – but can’t be bothered going to church.  He’s not a wowser, but will lend credibility to a group of whingeing wowsers if he thinks it might score him some brownie points with the religious right.  A jellyfish has more principles than this man.

I’m no great fan of Anna Bligh. She’s also thrown secular education to the wolves and lied point-blank to Queenslanders by swearing that our education system is secular while knowing full-well the word was expunged from the Queensland Education Act in 1910. In all her years in power, Bligh has done nothing to rectify this.  What’s more, former Education Minister, Geoff Wilson, stated in writing that the Queensland Labor government had no intention of reinstating the word ‘secular’ to the act – effectively denying our kids the secular education system intended by our founding fathers.

So, my animosity towards Newman is not driven by any love of the Labor party.  I like to think of myself as an unaligned equal opportunity ranter.  Bligh has been no friend to secular education, but Zelig Newman and his happy-clapping tea party of ministerial missionaries threaten to turn the clock back in Queensland so far you’ll think you’re living in the dark ages.

Can you really respect someone who so readily casts aside his personal principles for political point-scoring? Can you really cast a ballot for someone who’ll cozy up to the group that exploited ANZAC day and our war veterans to hammer home their divisive homophobic, Islamaphobic propaganda?

Like me, you may not be particularly enamoured of Bligh, but think very carefully before putting Queensland’s fate in Newman’s hands. As Lord Mayor, he may have been ‘Can Do Campbell’ but as premier, I predict he’ll be “Nowhere Man Newman”.

Chrys Stevenson

30 thoughts on “Nowhere Man Newman – what does he stand for?

  1. MikeFitz

    … or, as I like to call him, “Can-Do-Without” Campbell.

    It’s pretty low that, in order to pander to the Australian “so-called” Christian Lobby, he professes opposition to the Civil Unions bill, all the while knowing that he will not be able to repeal it.

  2. Jayel

    My thoughts exactly,Chrys. I truly despair for the future of Qld, and the rest of the country, with the lack of leaders who are willing to take a stand (whether I agree with it or not). Instead, we are left with an ramshackle group of wanna-be’s with nebulous and ever-shifting ‘policies’ who appear to be willing to sell their ‘souls’ to the loudest bidder. The word ‘duplicitous’ springs to mind. Time to move to another planet, methinks…:-(

  3. townsvilleblogS

    Newman, or his alter-ego (The Chameleon) is an arrogant used car salesman who will do or say anything to get himself and his ego over the line. His policies are vague, but more likely than not he will privatize Queensland’s electricity grid which he will say will force prices down, but will however force them up. Mander is an evangelical loony, I think from the yank cult the Assembly of God the last people we want in charge of our secular Education system. Labor are on the nose, there is no doubt that, however that to vote LNP would be disastrous. I would encourage as many people as possible to either vote for The Greens or for Katter’s Australian Party as alternatives.

      1. townsvilleblogS

        You won’t be saying that if Newman actually gets in, I can assure you. Katter may be a rat bag but he and his party will make life confusing for Premier Newman, I can assure you of that. Failing that you could always vote Green, we know the ALP is in for a hiding.

      2. crazyhorse

        Could the conservative-vote be split to leave Labor at the forefront of a coalition?

      3. crazyhorse

        yes, the 2-party-preferred thing will ensure conservative votes go to the LNP, unless certain seats go fully to Labor or the Greens.

  4. Muggie

    We don’t have any real political leaders in this country and Newman typifies what is worst about them. A leader is an enlightened person who forges a path for others to follow. Instead, we have callow creatures who are interested only in attaining and retaining power for its own sake, hence such behavior as Newman’s. One of the hats I wear is that of a councillor in local government. I cannot avoid sometimes having to speak to the shadow immigration minister whose policies I despise. I teach at a school where most of the kids are Muslim and many are damaged refugees. Islamophobia is sickening. These are good people. A bit of a rave. Sorry.

      1. townsvilleblogT

        We need to avoid a Newman government, apart from North Queensland infrastructure we need a decent public education sector which is also under threat from a Newman government.

  5. Muggie

    PS I am a atheist and sceptic, but behave with respect towards the many students and professional colleagues who do believe in particular variations of Russell’s ‘flying teapot’.

    1. townsvilleblog

      I am agnostic and bemoan the chaplains in schools program. Most of these people (chaplains) come from the Assembly of God cult. They are recruiting students from vulnerable family circumstances in a way that is difficult to prove.

      1. crazyhorse

        Is Mander an Assemblies of God follower/devotee?

        Coz if he is, there is a serious conflict of interest.

  6. Vance

    “Mander, who has gleefully led the invasion of evangelical chaplains into Queensland’s secular state schools, must be salivating at the chance of co-opting the resources of Queensland Education into converting all those unchurched Queensland kids.”

    Gleefully … and greedily.

    Mander : “We believe the funding should be exclusively for chaplains.”

    Mander’s LNP bio page reads :

    “CEO of Australia’s fastest growing youth and children’s organisation, Tim has overseen the massive growth of the nationally acclaimed school chaplaincy program.

    This role reflects Tim’s commitment to ensuring children have every opportunity to reach their full potential. He believes this can be best achieved by strengthening families.”

    1. townsvilleblogT

      There is nothing quite as disturbing to me as the invasion of yank cults like the Baptists and the Assembly of God. They are clearly just a parasite business using the Bible as a tax free collection plate. Sadly many low income people who are desperate about the world around them get sucked in to these cults. They end up paying 10% of their lowly incomes to these parasites so that the pastors and high ranking parasites can live in luxury. They (the leaders) are not even fair dinkum Christians (remember Jim and Tammy Baker in the USA as an example) but they fool the foolish. This push into our (secular)education system is one of the most socially dangerous moves I have witnessed in Australian society for a long time.

  7. crazyhorse

    Mander has a conflict of interest – it is a significant ethical issue if he becomes Education Minister, especially if he fosters more religion being heaped on public schools, or resists attempts by the non-religious to avoid religion.

    It would be appropriate to sound out authorities than can deal with this – ombudsman, Federal entities, etc. It could evenbecome an issue of Human Rights.

      1. Vance

        [“Tim Mander – Ex-athiest, Rugby League Referee, Chairman of Scripture Union, Studying at Bible College, Chaplain at Grovely State School, home church is Arana Hills Churches of Christ.”]

        I see they’ve removed the link to his more detailed backstory. However, I did find this snippet (from Crikey, Sep 2005) :

        “He is an interesting character. This week he revealed that he turned to Christianity after being troubled with alcohol and gambling problems when he was young, including his last two years at

        So he’s supposedly a former atheist, turned Christian fundamentalist, who was ‘troubled’ with drinking & gambling problems from a young age, became a respected rugby league referee, was more-or-less responsible for bringing evangelical chaplains into public schools throughout the state, and could very well be our next Education Minister. Why aren’t Qld journalists tripping over themselves to tell Mander’s story?

      2. townsvilleblog

        These people usually have some great upheaval in their lives that they can’t handle and turn to an imaginary friend in order to cope. They go from having no friends to have 700 of them in one day so they think this is marvelous. Sadly it is a cult that attracts the weakest of minds. Now they want to pull our children into the cult, I have been aware of this for quite some time and as such have steered my child away from these lunatics.

    1. Vance

      Mander’s idea of secularism is typically fundamentalist (unless he’s changed his mind since 2009, when this article was written – which I very much doubt) :

      “Groups that promote secularism are entitled to their opinions, but are they entitled to impose those views on a multi-cultural and multi-faith society like Queensland?”

      And where have we heard this sort of thing before before?

      “It is worth noting that students in state schools are sometimes exposed to atheistic viewpoints …. Students should be able to have access to a range of views so they are able to weigh up these things for themselves.”

      He doesn’t specifically mention creationism of course, but the implications are obvious. Phrases like “atheistic viewpoints” are usually fundamentalist code for the teaching of evolution or any other mainstream science which upsets their narrow little worldview.

  8. Sally

    I’m not a religious person – never been inside of a church except for wedding and funerals, and thats the truth. But I don’t get your antagonism towards Chaplains. The Chaplains, far from ‘evangelical’, are usually (that I’ve seen in my local community) are usually Anglican or Uniting. Also they don’t force themselves on students (that comes out wrong, but you know what I mean), they are there only if students want to go to them for advice. Its a CHOICE students have, it doesn’t mean they are brainwashed by them, nor does it threaten secular education at all, not even in the slightest. Australia being a country where Christianity is the major religion, obviously will have Christian Chaplains. I never had one when I went to school, but I understand they truly do a lot for schools. That you would argue against something that HELPS so many, is just……I don’t understand that. I can understand if speaking to the Chaplain was *compulsory*, but its not. Why take away something thats harmless, and just may help a teen in trouble? All to prove some atheistic point? Maybe you should think twice about taking away the choice of children/teens for no reason at all except for an atheistic pointscoring.

    As for Newman, well, his wanting to rescind the civil union laws is very disappointing to me. I honestly don’t understand him. Thats all I say on that.

    1. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

      Sally, I understand your point of view, but you are speaking from the perspective from one local community. I am working alongside the Australian Secular Lobby and, to a lesser extent Fairness in Religion in Schools (FIRIS) who are receiving input from teachers, students and parents from throughout Australia. The story from that wider viewpoint is far different to yours.

      We are not just making a fuss to make an atheistic point. We are making a fuss primarily because the interests of children and their parents are not at the forefront of this program.

      It was not introduced to solve any particular problem identified in schools. There was no research which identified a problem that needed to be filled by religious chaplains. Chaplaincy was purely and simply a pork-barrel payment from the government in return for Christian votes.

      Nearly half a billion dollars has been spent on or committed to the chaplaincy program. The only research into its effectiveness has been a highly flawed study commissioned by Scripture Union Queensland. There has been no independent study into the effectiveness of chaplaincy. Further independent studies into suicide prevention in schools and into better education (e.g. the Gonski Report) do not mention chaplaincy as a solution to anything.

      Think what a difference half a billion dollars could make to poorly resourced schools. Think what qualified counsellors might have been made available with that money. Did you know the ratio of qualified counselors to students is around 1:2000 – and worse in some states.

      We know the attitude of evangelical Christians to homosexuals and their views on abortion. How do chaplains respond to children struggling with their sexual identity, or pregnant teens? What are these kids told? Do you know?

      And why do we put mostly unqualified people in a position where they expected to spot ‘at risk’ kids. At least one chaplain has failed to see the signs of an at risk child, accepted the child’s assurance that he was ‘OK’, did not refer the child to a qualified counselor, and the child committed suicide. It is not the chaplain’s fault. He should never have been put into that position without appropriate qualifications. He should never have been the ‘first stop’ for a child who should have been referred to a counselor rather than a chaplain.

      If we were making a fuss about chaplaincy simply to make an atheistic point, you think we’d be jumping for joy over secular welfare workers. We’re not. Again, they are not going to be properly qualified, there are too many exemptions to qualifications, they are not fulfilling an identified need, and there is no way of measuring their effectiveness.

      Yes, we need to preserve our secular education system. But that is not to get rid of religion. It’s to make the system fair for every family – Christian, atheist, Buddhist, Seventh Day Adventist or Mormon. The chaplaincy program is overwhelmingly Christian. This disadvantages children of other faiths and none or, if you happen to think chaplaincy is effective, unfairly advantages the kids from Christian backgrounds (as other children are unlikely to use the chaplain’s services).

      We know from talking to teachers and principals that what they need are more resources. Chaplains are what they are offered, so that’s what they take. But that doesn’t mean that chaplains are what they really want or need. They were never given a choice on how that half a billion dollars could be best spent for the advantage of our kids – and no research was done to find out.

      So, no, Sally – this is not about making an atheistic point. This is about kids and, for some kids, it is a matter of life and death.

    2. townsvilleblog

      Sally, with all due respect as I see it on a State wide basis, the majority of these Chaplains hail from the evangelical loonies like the Australian branch of the USA cult the Assembly of God. They have no place in a secular school system and the danger is that they are recognizing children from traumatic home lives and trying to recruit the into the cult. I certainly do not want my child to have any influence from these weirdos, do you?

    3. Vance

      Sally, have you read the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s assessment of the school chaplaincy programme? It’s clear that the NSCP was deeply flawed. The changes made since the report have done little to improve it.

      Click to access commonwealth_ombudsman_chaplaincy_report_06_11.pdf

      Also, you really should do some research into the major chaplaincy providers such ACCESS Ministries and Scripture Union, and find out what they stand for as organizations, what their stated objectives are, and how they operate.

      Scripture Union, for instance, has blatantly fundamentalist beliefs and evangelical aims. Scripture Union Qld only places its chaplains in public schools, and boasts that it is “the largest employer of school chaplains in Australia”. These chaplains are allowed to run scripture clubs at the school, encourage kids to attend events such as SU Qld holiday camps, bring in outsiders as mentors, and who knows what else. How is this appropriate for the Qld public education system, which is not supposed to put one faith or belief group ahead of any other?

      1. townsvilleblogT

        What I want to know about Campbell Newman and the LNP is where is all the new revenue coming from to fund all his promises all over Queensland, and/or what services does he and his party plan to axe, question and answer don’t appear to be Mr. Newman’s strongest attribute.

  9. Alex Law

    Queensland, unlike other states has not had a Secular state education system since 1910, that’s why the Chaplaincy program started here as a state initiative.

    Luckily Mander didn’t get Education.

  10. Pingback: Political Infamy | THE PUB

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