Profiling the extremely "Right" Hon. David Clarke MLC



September 02, 2005

Profiling the extremely "Right" Hon. David Clarke MLC

It seems that only a matter of hours after John Brodgen tragically tried staggering off his mortal coil, quite an interesting phenomenon occurred within the NSW Liberal Party. It bodes ill. Centrist Liberal MLC Patricia Forysythe, a member of the Liberal Party for over 35 years, came out on Stateline this evening and heralded the power-hungry arrival of a somewhat sinister young faction, spearheaded by the so-called religious Right.

The transcript is not yet online, but Forsythe went so far in her interview with Quentin Dempster to suggest that the NSW Liberal party was in quite mortal danger of being over-run by extremists and zealots, unrepresentative of the main body of Liberal supporters as a whole.

There is currently a push in the party's right-wing to remove the preselections of moderates like Forsythe, and replace then with religious conservatives. Dempster sensibly asked Forsythe to name names. Her response?

David Clarke.

Were Clarke and key staffer Alex Hawke responsible in some way for the ignominious downfall of Brodgen - a downfall which represents a shift in power away from the moderates in the Liberal Party and towards the religious conservatives? There is not enough evidence in the public domain at present to be sure, although suspicions abound. Brogden, of course, went to the trouble of publically naming Alex Hawke as someone who played a role in leaking information to the media.

But who is David Clarke? He has only been a member of the NSW Legislative Council since 2003, but already he has gained a significant degree of notoriety. Despite this, he has a low media profile. His personal page on the NSW Liberal site indicates that Clarke has not listed any personal details, previous qualifications, occupations or interests, and gives no information about his activities within the Liberal Party or the community.

More over the fold.

UPDATE: Stateline transcript is here. This exchange is telling:

QUENTIN DEMPSTER: When you say extremists and zealots, are you prepared to name the extremists and zealots?

PATRICIA FORSYTHE: Look, I'm prepared to say that within the parliamentary party I am very fearful of the power of David Clarke.

David Clarke's first speech in the NSW Parliament gives a very concise indication of where his political loyalties lie. He begins his first speech by grossly misrepresenting the nature of modern Australian society:

Tonight I want to testify to my commitment to the truths of the Christian faiththe faith professed by the overwhelming majority of Australians.

Christianity is not professed by the overwhelming majority of Australians, of course. There are two kinds of believers - those whose faith opens doors for them towards moral enlightenment and those whose faith takes their morality back centuries in time. Clarke falls into the latter category. His faith defines him, appearing to constrict his belief system in a stereotypical and medievally conservative manner. He abhors homosexuality. He is a stickler for the sanctity of marriage. He desires a re-opening of the abortion debate, against the wishes of the majority of women everywhere.

He fears the possibility of an Australian republic, and the insatiably aggressive United Nations:

I have never understood the inconsistency of those who call for a republic with the erroneous claim that it will in some way enhance our independence and yet find these same elements leading the charge to hand over Australian sovereign power to the United Nations organisation.

He suggests underhandedly that private schools exist because public schools are not worthy enough to tutor the children of wealthy families:

The fact that parents, at great financial sacrifice, are sending their children in ever - increasing proportions to independent schools must surely show that there are deep concerns about some aspects of public education standards, discipline and what children are being taught in some areas.

Two unflattering media incidents stand out in Clarke's young career as a member of the NSW Legislative Council, and both frame him in a less than tolerant light.

In May 2004, Clarke was implicated as being one of the key players involved when an inaugural Punchbowl Liberal Party branch meeting / attempted stackfest ended up descending into a brawl.

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This page was last updated Thu Oct 27 15:25:39 2005 Pacific time