19th June 2014 – The Australian – John Ferguson – Victorian Political Editor

19th June 2014 – The Australian – John Ferguson – Victorian Political Editor

THE Victorian Liberal Party and rebel independent Geoff Shaw are discussing preference deals with a hard-Right Christian party that opposes multiculturalism and whose leader says the Black Saturday fire disaster was due to the vengeance of Jesus over watered- down abortion laws.

Pastor Danny Nalliah has registered the Rise Up Australia Party to contest the November 29 state election and has immediately been courted by some of the biggest figures in politics.

Mr Nalliah told The Australian he had met this month with a Liberal representative to discuss preference flows. He had spoken in recent days to Mr Shaw, the two having formed a friendship after meeting a decade ago at a church on the Mornington Peninsula.

They had discussed preference flows and the suspended independent MP had his full support. “I think the guy as a person is a super bloke,’’ he said. “I stand for Geoff.’’

On the Liberal Party pursuing his preferences, Mr Nalliah said the party wanted to keep discussions private. “Already the Liberals have come to meet with us. That happened sixth of June. They sort of said to keep it low-profile.’’

Mr Nalliah has huge influence in Melbourne’s east and southeast as the head of the Catch the Fire Ministry, a national, inter-­denominational organisation with 120 churches representing many thousands of parishioners. Many of the churches are in swing seats in outer-suburban areas, prompting former federal Liberal deputy leader Peter Costello several years ago to seek out Mr Nalliah. That relationship soured when Mr Nalliah articulated how he had dreamt Jesus had declared his unhappiness with changes to Victorian abortion law. Four months later, he said, the Black Saturday fires had occurred. More than five years after the fires, Mr Nalliah said his comments on abortion were distorted by the media.

But he applauded attempts by Mr Shaw to tighten abortion law in Victoria, with particular emphasis on late-term terminations, and again spoke out against sharia.

Rise Up Australia plans to run 16 upper-house candidates and wants to run up to 11 candidates in crucial southeast suburban lower- house seats, where the election may well be decided.

This means Rise Up Australia could become crucial to the outcome of some seats, although there is no serious expectation it will win seats in its own right.

The key policy imperative for the party is to “Keep Australia Australian!’’ and Mr Nalliah wants to remove the word multiculturalism from political debate and replace it with “multi-ethnic’’. “I don’t hear the word multiculturalism outside the West.’’

In 2000, Sri Lankan-born Mr Nalliah said he had a political epiphany that he “should be fighting for my country, which is Australia, not where I come from”.

“And I realised people who come here need to be integrated into the Australian way of life.’’

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