Warning: This article features explicit details of child sexual abuse that could be triggering for some readers.
Powerful people wield power, and power wields powerful people. Wow, what a powerful amount of “powers” in one mere sentence.
So, what do I mean by this phrase? How can power wield people? Well, when people get access to political power, monetary power, and social power, they must uphold certain societal traditions in order to maintain said influence. They may even have to sacrifice some of their values in order to hold an unwavering position in society.
Which brings us to our Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. Like all politicians, he has bowed to certain Australian traditions and governmental procedures in order to keep things running smoothly. He may have even shifted his values so as to not be crucified by public opinion.
However, for these claims to hold water, I need a cup made out of evidence. Which, unfortunately for Albanese, I have. I believe that since becoming Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese has had a entangled relationship with the British Monarch and the Australian Cardinal, George Pell.
And here’s why I reckon that’s the case.
Anthony Albanese and Queen Elizabeth II
For ages, Anthony Albanese has wanted Australia to escape the chains of the British Monarchy and become a republic. In 2019, he even spoke at an Australian Republic Movement Dinner in our capital of Canberra.
During Albanese’s speech, he roasted the royal family and scorned Prince Andrew’s 2019 BBC interview. If you don’t remember, Prince Andrew was asked about his relationship with the sexual predator Jeffery Epistien and claimed he was innocent because he had temporarily lost the ability to sweat.
“If you’d asked me a couple of weeks ago what I planned to say to the Australian Republican Movement tonight, I would have had a couple of ideas,” said Albanese. “Modest ideas but, I like to think, hopeful ones.”
“Then the Prince Andrew interview happened.”
Albanese continued, “To be honest, I think even the Queen wouldn’t mind putting her own feet up and having a short break from it all at this point. I mean, where do you start with Prince Andrew’s TV appearance? It was the train-wreck of interviews to what Everest is to mountains.”
“I am on record as saying that a modern Australian republic is an idea whose time has come.”
However, despite being a republican, Albanese has been a pawn when it comes to monarchical producers. In 2013, the Prime Minister of the time, Julia Gillard, was blasted for not curtseying when meeting Queen Elizabeth II. During this controversy, Albanese felt like these complaints were petty. Yet, he also said that he himself would follow the Crown’s traditional regulations, if need be.
As Albanese said, “I will be doing whatever the protocols instruct me to do, and that’s appropriate, we’re a modern society.”
Now, let’s smash cut to September 2022. Anthony Albanese was Prime Minister, and the Queen was dead. But when this happened, Albanese acted like a royalist. He suspended parliament. He approved numerous expensive tributes. He announced a holiday that paused the whole of Australia. Albanese did all of this in the name of a monarchy that he believes shouldn’t have a sway over our country.
At the time, Albanese said, “From the moment the young princess became Queen, Her Majesty’s dedication to duty and service over self the hallmarks of her reign. Performing her duty with fidelity, integrity, and respect for everyone she met.”
Such commentary is a far cry from what he said at the Australian Republic Movement Dinner.
Now, were Anthony Albanese’s years of procedural reverence for the monarchy a political manoeuvre? Did Albanese choose to become a conduit for tradition because he didn’t want to rock the boat?
It is what it is: Power can at times wield people.
Anthony Albanese and George Pell
On March 14, 2019, George Pell was sentenced to six years of imprisonment. He was charged with sexually assaulting two young boys.
On April 7, 2020, the high court squashed these convictions. This was much to the agreement of Pell and the Catholic church, both of which maintained his innocence.
After spending 404 days in prison, Pell was free and the word “alleged” was once again sprinkled around his name.
However, during this 404-day period, another former Prime Minister, John Howard, wrote a letter of support for Pell. What’s more, at the time, Anthony Albanese roasted this letter.
“It made no reference at all to what had occurred, and it also suggested that his view of George Pell had not been changed,” stated Albanese. “I think that is very unfortunate, and it does show a lack of judgement.”
Additionally, when discussing Pell’s conviction, Albanese said, “It showed that no one was above the law in this country. And I think that’s a good thing.”
Now, let’s smash cut to January 2023. Anthony Albanese was Prime Minister, and George Pell was dead. But when this happened, Albanese’s statement on Pell shared some strong similarities to that of Howard’s letter. This is because Albanese made no reference at all to what Pell had allegedly done.
Moreover, it’s not like Albanese declined to comment. Instead, he gave a diplomatic answer that might have pleased the likes of the Catholic church.
Albanese said, “For many people, particularly of the Catholic faith, this will be a difficult day. And I expressed my condolences to all those who are mourning today. I discussed this with Archbishop Fisher… I expressed my condolences to Archbishop Fisher on behalf of the government.”
“This will come as a shock to many. This was a hip operation. The consequences of it, unfortunately, have been that Cardinal Pell has lost his life.”
It is what it is: Power can at times wield people.
Anthony Albanese and Compromise
Being a pawn of power is something all humans do. For instance, maybe you care deeply about digital privacy but also use some data-hungry apps. Or maybe you care deeply about animals but were once pressured to attend a Melbourne Cup event.
However, there’s a gradient of acceptability. In regards to Anthony Albanese, I personally feel like his tribute to the Queen was far more palatable than his polite words to George Pell.
What’s more, you don’t always have to let power wield you. There’s always a choice, you can always resist.
For instance, when Pell died, the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, didn’t mince words. He had a very different response to that of Albanese.
As Andrews said, “There will be no memorial service or state funeral because, I think, that would be a deeply, deeply distressing thing for every victim-survivor of Catholic Church child sexual abuse. That is my view, and I will not do that.”
He also addressed the victims and survivors of sexual abuse, saying: “We believe you, we support you, and you’re at the centre for not only our thoughts, not only our words but our actions.
Yes, as previously mentioned, power wields powerful people. Nevertheless, with the right framework and a bit of bravery, powerful people can sometimes wield their power for good.
If this article brings up any issues for you or anyone you know, please contact Bravehearts — an organisation providing support to victims of child abuse. If you are concerned about the welfare of a child, you can get advice from the Child Abuse Protection Hotline (1800 688 009) or the 24-Hour Child Abuse Report Line (131 478).