Fiji and the priest

January 30th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Cam Slater at Truth writes more extensively on the saga of the priest:

Notwithstanding that my sources in say that although it is probably true that Father Barr was spoken to harshly by the Prime Minister, this was not the reason for cancelling his permit. Father Barr is an Australian in on a religious permit which allows him to work for the church and in certain other activities. It does not however allow him to engage in politics, something he appears to have forgotten recently with political statements concerning the minimum wage and certain decrees such as the Essential Industries Decree.

The final straw appears to have been met when Father Barr appeared in a photo supposedly supporting the formation of a trade union political party. These actions clearly breached the terms of his permit and the government is felt it was entitled to cancel his permit. He is not a permanent resident of Fiji and nor is he a citizen of Fiji.

After 32 years in country he still maintained his Australian citizenship and passport. Accordingly he is a foreign resident who was engaging in and participating in local political process. We wouldn’t tolerate this in New Zealand and we certainly do not appreciate churches, with their tax free status meddling in politics in the first place.

Actually our churches do meddle in politics all the time. I actually don’t know that churches should have tax free status. If they have a charitable arm like Presbyterian Support Services, then that should be tax free, but can’t see why a religious organisation should be charitable in its own right.

The Fijian government has now reversed its decision and Father Barr is free to remain in Fiji for the duration of his permit on the understanding he will abide strictly by the terms and not engage in political activity. He isn’t a citizen after all and further he is a clergyman. Most countries around the world eschew the involvement in politics of the church. Father Barr apparently agreed to abide by the conditions of his work permit and will now stay.

I’m glad the Government reversed their decision. Although the deportation decision was legal, that doesn’t mean it was desirable. There is a chilling effect if writing a letter to the editor gives you a personal phone call from the head of government abusing you, and then deportation. The challenge for Fiji going forward is to not consider dissenting views as a bad thing, but as a good thing. And yes politics is for permanent residents and citizens, but after living in a country for 32 years I think you can regard someone as more than a foreigner.

I want Fiji to have non-racial free and fair elections. They are making some steps towards that, and as they do the NZ Government should relax their sanctions. But what worries me is that the Commodore seems to have a view that his view is the only one that counts and anyone who says anything unpalatable becomes an enemy – whether they be the independent head of the constitutional review group or the priest in question (who had been a supporter of his).  Dissent is not treason. In some cases it is in fact patriotic.

Tags:

14 Responses to “Fiji and the priest”

  1. smttc (638 comments) says:

    The advancement of religion is charitable by its very nature because the common law says it is. Denying religions tax free charitable status would require a legislative change to overturn the common law.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. kowtow (6,724 comments) says:

    We have racial elections,why can’t Fiji?

    Vote: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. Whaleoil (766 comments) says:

    Father Barr is not being patriotic…he is a meddling Australian catholic priest engaging in Fijian domestic politics

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. All_on_Red (955 comments) says:

    “Dissent is not treason. In some cases it is in fact patriotic.”
    Then he would serve his OWN country better by going back to Oz and criticising Gillard. God knows there’s enough to criticise there!
    What is it with these Priests who meddle in politics . They should stfu and do Gods work. If they want to be politicians then stand and be judged by the voters

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Cato (1,094 comments) says:

    “can’t see why a religious organisation should be charitable in its own right.”

    Because the advancement of religion is a charitable purpose. All goes back to the Statute of Elizabeth in 1601 which groups it, along with the relief of poverty and the advancement of education, in the core group of activities that were considered to be of general benefit to society and which are, accordingly, worthy of being generally unmolested by the State.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Paulus (2,299 comments) says:

    New Zealand’s largest charity is Sanitarium, who are totally tax free, as a sucessful business.

    It is wholly Church owned, by the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. nasska (9,550 comments) says:

    ….”Because the advancement of religion is a charitable purpose.”…..

    Well we’ve had over five hundred years since then to prove that the advancement of religion has proved to be bugger all of a benefit to society. Indeed the children would probably appreciate being generally unmolested by the representatives of the church.

    Send in the tax collectors.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. scrubone (2,971 comments) says:

    Churches are exempt from taxes on profit. But they don’t make any so there’s no point in changing that. They’re also exempt from rates, but not water or waste water charges. Often, their facilities are used by the wider community (I’ve cast my vote in several church halls over the years) so that’s not exactly one way either.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. scrubone (2,971 comments) says:

    Well we’ve had over five hundred years since then to prove that the advancement of religion has proved to be bugger all of a benefit to society.

    7 comments, slow day.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. Dean Papa (623 comments) says:

    I don’t see this link between citizenship and patriotism. Sivivatu was playing for the ABs while on a working visa, so it is clearly nonsense. Irene van Dyke was playing for the ferns years before she became a citizen. Pauleastbay will no doubt agree with me on this issue.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,684 comments) says:

    David, why do you perpetuate this myth? The man was not deported. There was no deportation order.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. orewa1 (425 comments) says:

    Exactly Paulus. Vegemite pays tax but Marmite is tax free. WTF?

    Religion is no different to any other pressure group. It should pay tax accordingly.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. gump (1,231 comments) says:

    Whale is telling lies when he states when he says that “we wouldn’t tolerate [a foreign resident engaging in and participating in local political process] in New Zealand”

    We actually do tolerate this – as do most other westernised countries.

    As an easy example, just look at the offshore political consultants that our political parties engage e.g. Kevin Doyle or Blue State Digital etc etc.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Mike Readman (353 comments) says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Citizen_Party

    How about this outfit? I heard they were based in China.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.