Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Transfield, Father Rod Bower and the "what would Jesus do" test
Last week I wrote this piece about attempts by Transfield Chair Dianne Gander-Smith to silence Anglican Priest Rod Bowers whose tweets and signs outside his church in Gosford (about Transfield's culpability and involvement in the abuse and mistreatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Naura) had angered and upset the Transfield Chair.
The Transfield Chairperson sought a meeting with Father Bower's superior, the Anglican Bishop of Newcastle Greg Thompson, because she was concerned to engage with the Church in light of Father Bower's message.
A report of the meeting between Bishop Thompson and Transfield Chair Dianne Gander- Smith can be found here in the Newcastle Herald.
The Bishop apparently raised his own concerns with the Transfield Chair over their treatment of asylum seekers on Naura and Manus Island and urged the Transfield Chair to consider the "what Jesus would do" test to review their involvement.
Bishop Thompson also raised the church’s failure to respond to child sexual abuse allegations to show that organisations and individuals need to account for ‘‘what you did when you knew’’ about suspected abuse.
Bishop Thompson was reported as saying:
‘‘I spoke at length on the importance of responding to matters of abuse. I shared my learning on abuse history of the church, its culture of avoidance and the impact of this on leadership.’’
The Transfield Chair apparently claimed she was an activist on Indigenous issues herself to demonstrate her credentials and to claim that she understood what Father Bower was trying to achieve.
The Newcastle Herald report continues:
The Newcastle Herald also reports that Father Bower has supported and met with University of Newcastle staff and students protesting against Transfield’s 5-year, $88 million contract with the University to manage the its facilities across the state.
The Herald wrote:
Father Bower said organisations like the university that did business with Transfield, and wanted to be seen as ethical operators, ‘‘must have concerns about an asylum seeker process that creates a deterrent through deprivation’’.
‘‘The question has to be asked whether letting a contract to a company involved with intentional deprivation fits with the university’s ethical guidelines? Clearly it doesn’t,’’ Father Bower said.