Matt Wong

Chief Writer

6 October 2022

Regardless of which side of the issue you fall on, a significant cascade of events occurred in Australia this week. Here is as accurate a timeline as we could piece together as of 6 Oct 2022. OCT 3rd: Former CEO of NAB Andrew Thorburn is announced as the new CEO of Essendon Football Club. Essendon's club website says they strive to be “the most successful, inclusive, and respected club in Australian sport both on and off the field.” OCT 4th: Deputy Mayor or Port Phillip council Tim Baxter (Greens) leads the charge on 3AW to boycott Essendon FC. This was based on discovery that Andrew Thorburn is also Chair of the Board of City on a Hill Movement, a collection of Anglican churches registered under the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. Before Thorburn became Chair, the Senior Pastor ("Priest in Charge") Guy Mason delivered a sermon in 2013 espousing the traditional view of Christianity that homosexual 'practice' is a sin. He also compared abortion to concentration camps and called it 'legal murder'. Andrew Thorburn releases a statement on LinkedIn saying that he does not necessarily agree with everything said at his church, that neither does everyone inside the church, that he has not heard those views since joining as Chair, and that he was proud of his work fostering diversity and inclusiveness throughout his corporate career. Premier Daniel Andrews publicly attacks Andrew Thorburn & all religious institutions holding such "appalling views" of "hatred", that "dressing it up as anything but bigotry is false". The President of Essendon gives Thorburn an ultimatum: choose the club or your church. Andrew Thorburn releases a statement announcing his resignation as Essendon CEO, and laments that he had to choose between his faith and his job. He also extols the virtues of a 'tolerant and diverse' society that he feels may be deteriorating in Australia. OCT 5th: Thorburn releases another statement warning against the precedent of religious discrimination in Australia. OCT 6th: The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier labels Essendon's ultimatum as 'panic'. The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne attacks Daniel Andrews for sowing division in faith communities. Daniel Andrews rejects the criticism and says that as a Catholic with Catholic children going to a Catholic school, he understands what Catholicism is and it guides him in knowing how to lead and what is right and wrong. ... At time of publication, the usual sides are warring in the media. One noisy side is cheering on the ousting of clear 'homophobia' and 'intolerance'. The other noisy side is calling it religious discrimination and an attack on every religious Australian's job security. Some more measured quarters are calling the dual leadership positions a 'conflict of interest' that was untenable. The massive and usually quiet faith communities however are in full backlash with internal Labor sources revealing a panic inside the Premier's office as sentiment turns against Daniel Andrews in those communities. The head of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission Ro Allen publicly applauded the ousting saying "Good on Essendon for standing to their values" effectively prejudicing any VEOHRC claim or investigation that is brought.