Monday, 23 March 2015
Why do we still have Tony Abbott as Prime Minister of Australia? Perhaps we should blame rightwing Christian lobbyists
ABC News 16 March 2015:
ABC's Four Corners program has revealed the campaign was run by lobby group the National Civic Council (NCC), which emailed thousands of its members and associates, urging them to contact the Liberal MPs.
It follows the leak of a confidential message from party treasurer Philip Higginson pushing for Peta Credlin's removal as Mr Abbott's chief of staff.
The emails link to a live webpage hosted by sister organisation, The Australian Family Association, where almost 100 Liberal MPs could be contacted with a single click.
MPs described being deluged with emails leading up to the leadership spill.
"In the last few days the emails have been overwhelmingly flooding the office saying all this nonsense about leadership has gone far too far, and the emails are now overwhelmingly saying 'stick to the team you've got'," Senator Eric Abetz told ABC Hobart at the time.
Four Corners uncovered the campaign after a detailed instruction email was inadvertently sent to a Sydney barrister.
NCC vice president Patrick Byrne, who organised the email campaign, said it was effective.
"Our email campaign would've gone out to maybe 10,000 people; I'm not exactly sure and I don't have direct feedback, but I think it's had some influence," he told Four Corners.
One NCC email, obtained by Four Corners, warned about the possibility of either Malcolm Turnbull or Julie Bishop being elected to the leadership.
"Whatever his failings, the alternatives are Malcolm Turnbull, who failed as leader, and Julie Bishop, who was forced to resign as shadow treasurer due to dissatisfaction within Liberal ranks over her performance," one email read.
The emails credit Mr Abbott with holding the line on same-sex marriage and repealing the carbon tax.
The Prime Minister is held in high regard by the NCC.
Mr Abbott described its founder, Bob Santamaria, as, "my first political mentor", in his book Battlelines.
National Civic Council website here.
The Monthly April 2007:
In the aftermath of the Great Split in the Labor Party, in 1954-55, the Catholic-based anti-communist wing was driven out of all the states, other than New South Wales. The anti-communists, led by Bob Santamaria, then received the cold shoulder from Rome. They soldiered on, forming one of the most determined political forces in Australia. Through his organisation, the National Civic Council, and his newspaper column, his TV spot on the Nine Network and his regular contact with government ministers, Santamaria exerted the kind of influence which political activists and lobbyists these days can only dream of.