On The Nestor Affair

Ask any Australian who they most hate, and paedophiles would be near the top of that list. Hate them, can't stand them, they should be burnt at the stake, along with anyone who supports them. Supports them, like say Brett Collins, who defended paedophile Dennis Ferguson's right to live in the community? Oh yes, absolutely awful. What about Tony Abbott? But then there will be a stunned silence.

Tony Abbott, with help from the media, has successfully crafted an image for himself drastically at odds with the reality. But one of the most astonishing things about all this is the fact he provided a character reference for a convicted paedophile - supporting supposedly the most loathed creatures in society - and "Mums and Dads" are unaware or think it doesn't matter.

The facts are these. Tony Abbott met John Nestor in Sydney in 1984 when they were both training for the priesthood. Abbott has we know left that vocation, but kept in touch with Nestor, meeting several times a year. In 1997, Nestor - now an ordained priest in the Wollongong diocese - was charged with indecently assaulting a teenage altar boy. Abbott, now a minister in the Howard government, provided a character reference for Nestor, stating that he was "An extremely upright and virtuous man." Nestor was convicted and sentenced to 16 months in jail; however he was bailed pending an appeal and never served time in jail. Now, here we have at the time Abbott providing a reference for a convicted sex offender. Did John Howard dump him from the ministry? Expel him from the Liberal party? Did Howard run out of parliament to avoid accepting Abbott's vote?

John Nestor won his appeal later in 1997, with the judge stating "inappropriate conduct does not prove an offence took place". However inappropriate the legal system found the conduct to be, it was enough for the Catholic church - infamously reticent on taking action against priest suspected of sex offences - to never allow him to serve in the ministry again; he was finally struck off as a priest by the Vatican in 2008. Teflon Tony has avoided scrutiny over any of this.

I'd love to know how Liberal supporters really feel about this - how can they be "proud to be Liberal" when their leader supports a sex offender in the eyes of the Vatican if not the courts. But they won't tell you. Ask them and you get one of three responses:

  1. It's all in the past/a long time ago/lefties are always looking for that "gotcha" moment/cheap shot.
  2. References to Craig Thomson/Milton Orkopolous/the AWU.
  3. (Silence)
They simply cannot defend the indefensible, and will go to any length to avoid talking about it. It will all come out one day, I'm sure, and maybe then we'll finally be rid of Abbott (who rode into power lapping up the support of a media baron involved in the hacking of a murdered child's phone - and this is the side of politics that paints itself as being "family friendly"). We just have to ensure Abbott is not allowed to shut down the royal commission into child sex abuse - and he will try; he'll fight tooth and nail to do so. It was public pressure that led him to support the commission after his initial opposition, stating it must not be limited to the Catholic Church. So we need to keep the pressure up, and keep asking Liberal supporters "how can you think this is okay?". Maybe some of them will decide it isn't. 

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