Victorian Parliament Upper House member and Leader of the Reason Party, Fiona Patten, has welcomed today’s apology to the victims of child sex abuse in religious institutions – but has slammed the inaction of legislators in the past and blamed it on their cosy relationships with religious orders.
In 2000, Ms Patten was chastised by Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s (ScoMo’s) very religious predecessor, Bruce Baird, for exposing paedophile priests.
Survivors of institutional child sexual abuse will today receive recognition of their suffering in a national apology from the Prime Minister in Canberra.
“My heart goes out to all survivors today as they receive this long overdue recognition of their suffering,” Ms Patten said this morning.
“When I published my list of 650 paedophile priests (Hypocrites) in 2000 and called for a Royal Commission into the matter, I was met with fire and fury by politicians of the same party and standing who are struggling with this national apology today. I received three credible death threats for daring to expose the issue which were subsequently looked at by the AFP.”
Ms Patten said that at the same time, organisations like Broken Rites and the Rationalist Society, as well as brave campaigners like Chrissy and Anthony Foster, were doing their best to get the information about the abuse out to lawmakers, but they were completely ignored.
“Religious politicians in the Federal Parliament, in the late 1990s, like Tony Abbott, Brian Harradine and Scott Morrison’s predecessor, Bruce Baird, should have been the first to act on these calls when they were brought to their attention. Instead, all I received was a letter of abuse from Bruce Baird telling me that I should have been ashamed of myself for publishing Hypocrites,” Ms Patten said.
“If federal politicians had acted in the face of the evidence then, many of the victims who have since died would be alive today. The Fosters might still have had two daughters alive and in good health.”
Ms Patten said the last thing religion needed in Australia today was more freedoms.
“They already have the protection of the confessional that protects perpetrators of abuse,” she said.
“They need to be brought into line with the rest of society in every possible way including mandatory reporting from the confessional and greater overall transparency – including the removal of the tax exemptions many of them currently receive for running commercial businesses that reap millions of dollars each year.”