CBD’s faith has been shaken by the disturbing goings-on at the Australian Christian Lobby – which is not, as some have alleged, a hate group – in the wake of the departure of the group’s high-profile frontman, Martyn Iles.
Iles – a smoother operator than his combative predecessor, Lyle Shelton – announced last week via the lobby’s email list that his employment had been “terminated” by the lobby’s board after differences of opinion emerged over the ACL’s direction.
Martyn Iles has left the Australian Christian Lobby after a difference of opinion over direction.
Iles reckons he was told the group’s new strategy would focus “primarily on political tactics, less on the gospel”.
“I absolutely agree with them that I am not the right person for that vision,” Iles wrote. “I have always been a preacher first and politician second (or third…).”
The new strategy sounds to us a lot like the old strategy, by the by, and although Iles was eager to stress that he was leaving without bitterness and urged supporters to pray for the board, if the online reaction is anything to go by, there will be many in the lobby who will be sorry to see him go.
But Iles’ sign-off letter appears to have gone down like a Safe Schools pamphlet with his former colleagues.
ACL board chair Jim Wallace put pen to paper on Tuesday to members, “in grace and peace” and expressing “great disappointment” at the events surrounding Iles’ departure.
All very nice, until he gets to the bit about Iles’ claims about the direction of the lobby.
“The objectives of ACL have not changed,” Wallace wrote.
“As the Australian Christian Lobby, it is the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that drives every aspect of the work that we do – from phone canvassing to our Board decisions.”
He went on a bit, but you get the picture.
Now, it’s not possible to tell from all that what exactly is going on here; these boys are talking in mysterious ways, their wonders to perform, so we called both Martyn and Jim, through their respective people.
We haven’t heard back.
Our piece earlier this month on the friends and admirers of high-profile brain surgeon Charlie Teo, currently facing a hearing by the Health Care Complaints Commission into allegations of unsatisfactory conduct, committed a sin of omission.
Mick Gatto is backing his mate Charlie Teo.Credit:Getty Images
Among the surgeon’s famous friends, including Steve Waugh, Anthony Mundine and Mark Bouris, we failed to mention that colourful Melbourne identity, industrial relations mediator and debt collector Mick Gatto is also a good mate of Teo’s with the friendship between the two men going back more than 15 years.
Gatto told CBD that he got to know the celebrity surgeon after putting an acquaintance – who had been told her brain cancer would prove fatal within three months – in touch with Teo whose subsequent operation bought the woman another 10 years of life.
Nor was Gatto, memorably portrayed by actor Simon Westaway in Channel Nine’s Underbelly series back in the noughties, impressed by the proceedings against Teo by the commission, whose allegations of unsatisfactory conduct are strenuously denied by the surgeon.
“It’s not right,” Gatto said on Tuesday.
“The man’s a gentleman, he wears his heart on his sleeve, and he does things for people that nobody else will do.
“So I don’t understand all this nonsense that’s going on.”
The federal Labor government has been criticised for being a little cosy with the unions, but Anthony Albanese’s outfit is proving a hungry beast from a staffing perspective, which is feasting on the ranks of the union movement.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus has been hit by an exodus of top staff to lucrative government roles.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
But it’s the unions that are suffering from the exodus as staff, tempted by ministerial advisers’ salaries well in excess of what the labour movement pays, as well as the proximity of power, are vacuumed up by Albanese’s ministry.
“Everybody’s lost at least one or two of their people,” one union bigwig told CBD.
Sally McManus is bearing the brunt of the Albanese government’s hiring drive.Credit:John Shakespeare
But the Sally McManus-led Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) must be feeling it worse than most.
Since the change of government in mid-2022, McManus’ media director Peter Green has gone to Claire O’Neil’s office, while political director Shawn Lambert has returned to Bill Shorten’s office along with press secretary Isabella Tilley.
The retirement of veteran campaigns director Geoff Derrick and the departure of the council’s digital political director, Matt Burke, to NSW Labor to help get Chris Minns elected haven’t helped either.
Things reached the point at the ACTU where PR outfit The Shape Agency – which works with the Australian Services Union, the United Firefighters Union and Professionals Australia to name but a few – was drafted in to field media calls.
Help is at hand, though, with our former Australian Financial Review colleague Monica Crouch recently assuming spin duties for the council, and she was off to a flying start with this effort, in response to CBD’s inquiries.
“The ACTU has no comment on this,” Crouch told us.
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