Rev. Fred Nile: Protecting Muslims from Topless Beaches

Fred Nile is something of an oddity in Australian politics.  The NSW politician represents the Christian Democratic Party, a party supposedly established to represent people who support “Christian and Family values” and “the sanctity of life”.   Nile also has a history of making some outrageous comments about Muslims.

In 2002, Nile told that Australian media that he wanted to ban women from wearing veils in public.  He told the ABC:

FRED NILE: I’m saying they shouldn’t be allowed to wear it in public places. If they wish to wear it at the mosque, if they wish to wear it in their home, walking down the street in Lakemba or Auburn, that’s a different matter.

I’m talking about six women walking into the Opera House. There’s no…

He stood up in parliament and asked the government to investigate introducing French-style bans on hijab in public schools.

In 2007, an organisation linked to Nile was revealed as being behind the campaign to stop Muslims building a school in the town of Camden in New South Wales.

In the same year, Nile was calling for the government to start discriminating on the basis of religion and preventing Muslim immigrants from coming to Australia.

Further to wanting to see veils banned, Muslim schools banned and Muslim immigrants banned, Nile came out this week calling for topless bathing to be banned on beaches.

Conservative MP Fred Nile says he wants topless bathing banned in NSW to protect Sydney’s Muslim and Asian communities.

Protect Muslims?  He explains further:

“Our beaches should be a place where no one is offended, whether it’s their religious or cultural views,” he said.

“If they’ve come from a Middle Eastern or Asian country where women never go topless – in fact they usually wear a lot of clothing – I think it’s important to respect all the different cultures that make up Australia.”

A few short years ago, Nile was ranting and raving about Muslim women wearing a “lot of clothing” and calling for them to be banned from public places.  Now that the political climate and community sentiment towards Muslims seems to have softened somewhat, Nile is jumping on a different bandwagon and trying to recast himself as a ‘conservative’ protector of Muslim sensibilities.

52 comments ↓

#1 Kashmiri Nomad on 01.01.09 at 2:04 am

I remember blogging about the Australian Christian Democratic Party in August 2007.

At the time if my memory serves me correct the party’s NSW Senate candidate Paul Green likened Muslims to Bird Flu. He wanted to stop Muslim immigration to Australia

You are right the party does seem rather strange with such opposing views on Muslims. I am sure there is a reason to their about face change vis a vis Muslims. I don not known what the reasons may be but in time the truth will be revealed.

#2 Eudaemonion on 01.01.09 at 2:53 am

Politics makes strange bedfellows‘ never sounded truer.

#3 TerjeP (say tay-a) on 01.01.09 at 5:14 am

I think he is taking the piss. He is doing a wedgy on the left leaning multiculturalists that think we must be sensitive to the concerns of minorities (eg Muslims) and harsh with the concerns of conservatives (eg Christians like Nile). Rather than being a hypocrite I suspect his tougue is firmly planted in his cheek and he is trying to expose hypocracy.

Love him or hate him Fred Nile has got to be one of Australias most enduring politicians.

#4 Cinna on 01.01.09 at 6:13 am

How would Rev. Nile respond to a topless woman wearing a veil?

#5 GMan on 01.01.09 at 3:37 pm

If you’ve ever listened to Rev Nile speak at any length, you’ll have quickly realised he isn’t actually very bright, so I don’t think he’s trying on a political wedgie, he’s just really that stupid. The media love him because he’s a hapless clown, guaranteed to give a performance worth a few giggles.

#6 nav on 01.01.09 at 3:39 pm

He is a hypocrite because before the backlash against Muslims, he was actively courting Muslims for support in his conservative campaigns.

#7 Amir on 01.01.09 at 3:40 pm

The answer, of course, to the issue of nude bathing on beaches is simply to privatise the beaches and let the owners set their own rules.

#8 TerjeP (say tay-a) on 01.02.09 at 5:16 am

Amir – The other option is to accept that people own their own bodies and should be free to cloth them as much or as little as they like. Although if you want to expel people from your private property due to nudity then fine.

China – topless women with veils is an interesting idea. Let me think about that for a while. ;-)

Gman – I’ve met Fred Nile and I didn’t think he was stupid. Perhaps a little self absorbed but thats quite common amoungst successful people. And there is no doubting the fact that he is successful. I don’t believe he succeeded in politics due to chance. I think his intellect played a significant part in the process.

#9 Yobbo on 01.02.09 at 9:30 am

People like Fred Nile always sound to me like Airline spokesmen, always just running down the competition trying to get more bums on seats.

#10 Abdullah on 01.02.09 at 9:58 am

Its funny to see Nile bagging muslims given a few years back when he was jabbering aboit the mardo gras, he was actively trying to build a muslim support base.

#11 antish on 01.02.09 at 12:36 pm

Amir, the owners of the beaches already set their own rules. We have decided to allow some beaches to be nude and others not.

Just as a matter of interest, it is equally haram to see a topless man as it is to see a topless woman? If not, why not?

#12 touchstone on 01.02.09 at 3:52 pm

Privatising beaches. lol.

#13 Friday Links — January 2, 2009 « Muslimah Media Watch on 01.02.09 at 6:02 pm

[...] Austrolabe casts a skeptical eye on Australian lawmaker Fred Nile’s aim to “protect” Muslim women from nude beaches [...]

#14 GMan on 01.02.09 at 10:36 pm

Tut tut Amir, the very idea of privatising Aussie sacred sites like Cronulla. You’ll be run out of the country if word gets around in the wrong circles.

TerjeP (say tay-a) (what a mouthful) I can’t say as I’ve ever met the Rev Nile, but I have taken a great deal of interest in his political career and I have to say he is a thinker of no great depth. His outlook is incredibly shallow and very black and white.

#15 TerjeP (say tay-a) on 01.03.09 at 9:26 pm

Gman – Fred isn’t trying to win a competition as Australias best academic. However he is intelligent in an operational way and his capability shouldn’t be underestimated.

I should say that I don’t agree with Fred Niles political worldview. I’m a Liberal Democrat.

#16 Amir on 01.03.09 at 9:48 pm

Gman, part of the problem with Cronulla was that it ended up being two different subcultures vying for control over a public place. If the beaches had been private areas in which the owners controlled access and enforced their own rules, I doubt we would have seen riots or the animosity and conflict that led to them.

#17 Nur on 01.04.09 at 7:59 pm

so if rev, freddy wants a ban on hijabs, what about christian nuns with their veils?

i guess they must walk around barely naked too.

he should be part of the neo-nazi movement than the christian democratic party

#18 Eudaemonion on 01.04.09 at 10:08 pm

Men don’t have breasts Antish.

#19 Cinna on 01.04.09 at 11:10 pm

Men do have breasts, Eudaemion. They aren’t as useful or usually as noticeable though.
Rev. Nile may well belong to one of the many varieties of christianity that disaaproves of monasticism and nuns, Nur. Many muslims often make the mistake of assuming that every variety of christianity is practically indistinguishable from every other and approves of other variants. Like muslims, most christians hate what they regard as wrong-believers much more than they hate unbelievers.

#20 antish on 01.05.09 at 7:16 am

Eudamonion, it is not permissable for Muslims to view certain parts of most other people’s bodies. This includes torso, male or female. AFAIK there are no degrees of forbiddenness, but obviously social usage does erode the laws in practise. I’m wondering if Nile would back a campaign to make men cover up as well.

Amir, a campaign to privatise Australian beaches would be the single most disastrous thing that the Musim community could do. Luckily it would result in more laughter than vitriol.

#21 GMan on 01.05.09 at 10:28 pm

Antish I don’t think Amir is planning a nefarious Muslim assault on public ownership of beaches, he just likes private enterprise. No doubt a big Ayn Rand fan…

As a bit of a fence sitter in the public/private debate, I’d hate to see Aussie beaches go the way of those in Europe and I’m pretty sure most Australians would be up in arms at the very suggestion.

#22 antish on 01.06.09 at 6:35 am

GMan, I know, but his Randism dovetails with his dream of a kaffir-free lifestyle.

Australians would be more than “up in arms” about privatising beaches – well, maybe they’d be literally “up in arms”. I can’t think of another issue (ANZAC-worship included) which would generate a more unified response.

#23 Amir on 01.07.09 at 2:59 am

I don’t dream of a kafir-free lifestyle, Antish. That’s a ridiculous comment.

As for privatisation of beaches, then obviously people are not going to support it and it’s hardly high on the list of ‘reforms’ that I think Australian Muslims should be working towards in Australia. e.g. I think there is far more value in arguing for the privatisation of education.

#24 antish on 01.07.09 at 5:57 am

I was under the impression that you were religiously obliged to dream of a kafir-free lifestyle.

Aside from all the obvious arguments, I don’t see why you think that Muslims would be better off under privatised education. Assuming that all the state and federal funding for education was directly returned to tax-payers, do you really think that all Muslims would put all that money back into Muslim schools?

#25 Eudaemonion on 01.07.09 at 5:57 pm

Impressions gained from reading JihadWatch and Little Green Footballs don’t square well with reality Antish.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his Companions dealt with non-Muslims on a daily basis. They did not live a non-Muslim free lifestyle. So why would we, 1400 years later, be required to live in such a manner?

As for the other issue, parents may wish to put the money in Muslim Schools, or they may find that there is no qualitative advantage in doing so in their particular situation, or they may find that Islamic schools aren’t up to scratch, or any number of other individual situations that a bureaucratised mess wouldn’t be able to anticipate.

There is no requirement that the Muslim consumer restrict their choices to Muslim schools. There would be a plethora of Educational Service models to deal with the dizzying number of different familial and financial circumstances.

#26 Amir on 01.07.09 at 10:56 pm

Exactly. Privatised education wouldn’t just be good for Muslims but for all people, including the children themselves.

#27 antish on 01.08.09 at 7:46 pm

Indeed, there might be a plethora of schooling styles, but my point was that they would all receive much less funding than they now do.

I have no children but I contribute to the cost of education (and am happy to do so). But if the federal and state education budgets were to disappear and I was thus paying a smaller amount of tax, I (and everyone else) would have to put ALL the amount that we were saving back into the school/s of our choice to even maintain the current level of education funding. And so would everyone else. I certainly wouldn’t do that, and I doubt that many would.

If the education system was privatised it would have much less money than it now does. The rich schools would stay rich and most of the rest would become paupers.

#28 Cinna on 01.09.09 at 9:59 am

“If the education system was privatised it would have much less money than it now does. ”
Not necessarily. The usual proposal is that the state will collect a comparable amount of money for education through taxation from everyone as it does now and then will distribute it to privatised schools in proportion to the number of children that go to them.

#29 antish on 01.09.09 at 7:03 pm

Erm, that’s exactly what happens right now.

#30 Cinna on 01.10.09 at 6:22 am

No, Antish. Now the state both collects taxes for schools and provides most of the schools. I don’t know if this is what Amir proposes, but people in the UK wanted to use “education vouchers”- parents would have vouchers for a certain value which couls only pay for their children’s education which would be given to the schools they chose to send their children to. Successful- popular- schools would expand and unsuccessful ones close. There were problems with the scheme…

#31 antish on 01.10.09 at 6:40 am

“Collects taxes for schools” seems to be the same under the ‘privatisation’ model you mention, and parents are currently free to send their children to a non-state school if they want. I agree that the state runs the majority of schools, but that’s entirely consumer choice – state schools close if they don’t have enough students.

#32 Cinna on 01.10.09 at 12:17 pm

It’s passive consumer choice, not active, and libertarians are not very keen on that. At the moment most people who send their children to non-state schools have to pay the full cost as well as the taxes that support state schools.

#33 antish on 01.10.09 at 1:05 pm

My taxes currently support students at non-government school as well as students at government schools (and I’m not too happy about helping Scotch College or Kings School to buy another swimming pool). And I don’t think it’s all that passive a choice – whether or not to ‘go private’ is a major debate in many housholds.

I agree that state schools probably have an advantage in infrastructure costs, but as usual that would change if enough people wanted it to change. It would require a change to the constitution, though.

I suspect that the ‘libertarians’ here as much concerned about the pesky state dictating curriculum as they are about taxation.

#34 Eudaemonion on 01.10.09 at 2:11 pm

Let me first address the nonsense that the general quality of schooling will suffer because the government is not busy funding and controlling it. The bureaucratic waste will be eliminated, obviously.

Parent’s will have a direct say in the outcomes they wish for their children, which means that educational institutions will have to respond in a satisfactory manner or lose money as parents vote with their feet. Now, educational institutions have the right incentives in place to offer the best facilities, teachers and curriculum they possibly can.

Of course, these educational models will vary, and they should. Not everyone is going to learn a trade, or a skill, or earn a diploma.

Already that is an improvement on the current system of standard curriculum’s, standardised evaluations and QA Standards that are doing a less than satisfactory job.

#35 Eudaemonion on 01.10.09 at 2:12 pm

The rest, of course, is up to consumer preference.

#36 Cinna on 01.11.09 at 4:48 am

“My taxes currently support students at non-government school as well as students at government schools”
What sort of schools are these? Most religiously-based private schools are effectively state-controlled. They teach most of the state curriculum and are inspected and tested on the same standards as official stste schools.

“whether or not to ‘go private’ is a major debate in many housholds.”
Most households have no choice- even if they wanted to they could not afford to- and most accept that others- effectively the government- are better able to decide what constitutes a suitable education. Given the actual cost of attending most private schools now the government would either have to spend much more on education- and charge a lot more in taxes- or accept that there would still be a division between private-subsidised and state education caused by the costs of the two.

“I suspect that the ‘libertarians’ here as much concerned about the pesky state dictating curriculum as they are about taxation.”
Very likely. That does not affect the validity of the arguments they actually give however.

“Now, ]privatised] educational institutions [will] have the right incentives in place to offer the best facilities, teachers and curriculum they possibly can.”
Not necessarily, Eudaemonion. They will have incentives to provide the kind of education parents think appropriate for their children. Compulsory education came about because many parents didn’t see why their children needed any education.

#37 antish on 01.11.09 at 7:27 am

Cinna, I get your point but now you seem to want it both ways. If ‘privatisation’ just means that the government funds all schools equally, then the current sitution of the taxpayer funding all schools, state or private, is not far off that.

If you are also saying that ‘privatisation’ requires that the government has no say in the curriculum (as the first par of your above post implies), then that’s a different kettle of fish. Was that a part of the UK voucher model you mentioned?

#38 antish on 01.11.09 at 7:33 am

… sorry, and I forgot to add that the vast Catholic education system historically catered to the least wealthy sector of the community – the Irish and new immigrants. I imagine that Islamic schools have a similar demographic (not Irish, obviously…). My taxes fund these scools too. It’s a red hering to equate private schools with high-fee schools.

#39 antish on 01.11.09 at 7:37 am

“Parent’s will have a direct say in the outcomes they wish for their children, which means that educational institutions will have to respond in a satisfactory manner or lose money as parents vote with their feet. Now, educational institutions have the right incentives in place to offer the best facilities, teachers and curriculum they possibly can.”

Parents currently have a direct say in the running of private schools, and they do vote with their feet if they don’t like what’s happening. Increasingly that’s also happening with state schools.

If your problem is really with the state dictating the curriculum, let’s argue that.

#40 antish on 01.11.09 at 7:39 am

PS – if you think the state is going to collect taxes to fund schools and not have any bureaucratic oversight on how the money is spent, you’re crazy. We wouldn’t allow that – no sane nation would.

#41 Cinna on 01.11.09 at 1:42 pm

“if you think the state is going to collect taxes to fund schools and not have any bureaucratic oversight on how the money is spent, you’re crazy. We wouldn’t allow that – no sane nation would.”
You mean “no sane state”. In fact, states do do exactly that, especially with “defence” projects or long-term prestige projects. I don’t think that. Supporters of “open education” do. Among other things, they favour a different sort of state. A school that doesn’t provide what parents want doesn’t get the money. That- in the libertarian view- is all the oversight needed. I’d better add that that isn’t what I think but what many supporters of privatised education think.

I think there’s been confusion about what constitutes “public” and “private” schools here. State-funded private- religious- schools are effectively state schools anyway. They have to follow the state curriculum and the amount of religious and religiously-based education is very small and takes a form acceptable to the state. That’s what upsets some people about them. When I referred to “private schools” I meant what- just to be really confusing- are called “public schools” in Britain: schools entirely supported by endowments and/or the fees charged- which are usually many times more than the amount paid to any state-run school per pupil qnd with much less obligation to follow the state curriculum. Even completely open choice would not affect their intake much because of the requirement for much more money than the tax-provided sum per pupil.

#42 Amir on 01.11.09 at 1:59 pm

If your problem is really with the state dictating the curriculum, let’s argue that.

It’s one part of the problem. Just as competition in most fields has delivered more quality and better outcomes for consumers, a competitive education system would lead to more innovation and better quality in education. The problem is that the extent to which schools can innovate is hobbled by government control over their curriculum.

It is not enough to simply allow people to open private schools and set their own fees, to be truly effective, these schools should be allowed to teach a curriculum of their own design based on what they perceive to be the demands and needs of the market they are trying to serve.

The second point is that in order for private education to really work, I think the schools must be paid directly by parents and not, as under the current model, partly through government funds that have been confiscated from those or other parents through taxation. There needs to be a feedback loop as simple and as effective as the one that exists between you and your local supermarket or hairdresser: you don’t like the service you get, you stop giving them money and if enough people dislike the service, they either improve or they go out of business.

#43 antish on 01.11.09 at 1:59 pm

Defence is a pretty murky area and you are perhaps correct, but I doubt it. As for ‘long-term prestige projects’ examples, please.

I don’t know how British public schools are funded, but all Australian schools, state and private, receive a lot of government funding, based mainly on the number of students they have.

I’ve no idea how closely non-state schools have to stick to the curricula (there are 6 States in this state) but I certainly hope that my taxes aren’t funding any Creationism classes.

The whole issue of religious schools is fairly dubious in Australia, as the constitution states that education shall be ‘free, universal and secular”.

#44 Amir on 01.11.09 at 2:27 pm

And I suppose Creationists would be hoping that their funds are not going to fund non-Creationist classes. Hence, one of the fundamental issues with public and homogenised education.

#45 antish on 01.11.09 at 3:53 pm

Well, it’s one of the fundamental issues of funding religious education. The solution would be to not fund religion-based education. As per the constitution.

#46 Amir on 01.11.09 at 4:28 pm

Antish, where does it say that in the constitution?

#47 antish on 01.11.09 at 6:38 pm

Apologies, you are correct – it isn’t in the constitution, nor in the state constitution I checked as well.

Still, it’s an admirable goal.

#48 Cinna on 01.11.09 at 7:56 pm

“I think the schools must be paid directly by parents”
And what if parents ecide their children don’t need any book-learning, Amir? That’s why compulsory education was introduced.

An obvious example of a long-term prestige project in the UK where the state just throws money to private contractors and hopes for the best is the plans for the Olympics, Antish. I think you’ll find that the state support for private schools funds those parts of the education- most in fact- that aren’t religiously based. British public- i.e. private- schools select pupils from wealthy and probably well-educated families and charge and spend much more per capita than is available to state schools.

#49 jay on 01.11.09 at 8:41 pm

School can be compulsory but still user-pay.

#50 antish on 01.12.09 at 6:47 am

Here’s my nefarious plan, which would work if only we got rid of those pesky bureaucrats. Me and my mates will start the ‘Real Aussie True Blue Bushcraft School’. The curriculum would be trail-bike riding, shooting and drinking. The teacher-pupil ratio would be something like 1:1 – we’d be the teachers, of course. As we live on the dole anyway, the extra money will be pure profit. Our kids will love it. Win-win.

#51 Yobbo on 01.27.09 at 1:22 pm

“Me and my mates will start the ‘Real Aussie True Blue Bushcraft School’. The curriculum would be trail-bike riding, shooting and drinking.”

Not as strange as you might think. My younger brother went to an Agricultural high school where his school days were spent learning hot to operate and repair machinery, shear sheep and even such things as dog obedience classes.

Even though he completed year 12, the only academic subject necessary to achieve his high school certificate was English.

#52 Paul on 02.10.09 at 2:31 pm

Thought you might like to know your friend Pastor Danny’s at it again. I’ve written about it here.

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