Salvation Army’s Royal Commission Appearance Hypocrisy (Or: Shut This Guy Up Somehow)


Image: Civilized kangaroo (Source:

The Australian Salvation Army officials (Eastern Territory – Queensland and New South Wales States and the Australian Capital Territory) are due to appear before the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse. The focus will be on four Boys’ Homes – Bexley, Gill Memorial, Riverview and Alkira. [The author was in Alkira.]

The Salvation Army claims it believes in restorative justice for its many victims. Time will tell if this is just more spin.

Under the signature of the Territorial head of the organisation, “major” Pete Condom, people are asked to: “Please join with me in prayer that those who testify will find some healing through this experience,” and finishes with “Please pray as we approach the hearing.” For what? That their reputation survives?

Condon also states that: “A working group led by Major Peter Farthing, Royal Commission Response Coordinator, and including Luke Geary of Salvos Legal, members of the Professional Standards office team, and Major Bruce Harmer, meet regularly to develop our best response. The Communications and Public Relations Team is also developing careful plans for media work.”

[Salvos Legal is the Salvation Army’s wholly-owned legal firm in Australia]

It also states that “major” Peter Farthing is expected to appear at the hearing. Regular readers may have heard this name before. While the following e-mail has been posted a while ago, it is necessary to re-post it now to put it into context. The e-mail was received by the author a couple of days before finding out that Alkira would come up at the royal commission:

Name: Peter Farthing
Comment: Hello Lewis. I am the Salvo officer who came with his wife Kerrie to visit you some years back, and later we attended an exhibition of your art in Brisbane. I am currently responsible for coordinating the Army’s response to the Royal Commission, (Eastern Territory anyway) and today when I Googled Bishop Aspinall’s comments I discovered your web page and blog. Just wanted to congratulate you on it, and thank you. No doubt you will be reporting on a public hearing with us next year. All the best.   Peter

Time: December 2, 2013

Given that Mr. Farthing is to appear, but the author has been denied the same right, the above e-mail is particularly hypocritical.

Virtually all branches of philosophy would come to the conclusion that there is only one of two moral actions Mr. Farthing could take, if his actions are to be considered at all ethical. Given his apparent endorsement of this author’s work and apparently favourable attitude towards the author:

  1. He should have lobbied the commission on the author’s behalf to be permitted to also appear at the hearing; or
  2. He should refuse to appear unless the author also is granted permission to appear.

To the best of the author’s knowledge, Mr. Farthing, and his boss, Condom, have not adopted either action. They and McClellan are invited to prove otherwise.

The present scenario of Farthing, and his lawyer, (apparently Kate Burke), appearing, but not the author, is analogous to a court case where the defendant and his lawyer are permitted to appear, but not the prosecutor or the victim.

This could bring to mind an image of a “reverse kangaroo court”, something which has never occurred in recent times in a democratic society.

No judge would permit this in any court, but Judge McClellan, in his role as chief commissioner, does not seem to see the injustice of Farthing and his “defence” lawyer appearing, but not the author, who would have been both the victim and “prosecutor” (on behalf of the other boys from the Home).

In the past, the author has, obviously, been vocal in criticizing the Salvation Army over the operation of its Children’s Homes. At times, the author has also expressed some criticisms of the commission’s composition (see previous postings) with the aim of promoting a more effective enquiry.

For example, the author has been calling for the replacement of commissioner Robert Fitzgerald (often referred to, in the media, as Australia’s most influential lay Catholic) for having a conflict of interest, and questioning McClellan’s past statements calling for the abolition of the jury system (given that generations of people have died for the right to be judged by one’s peers).

The author also raised concerns over the appointment of the chief Counsel Assisting, Gail “Snow White” Furness, based on media reports of her handling of the enquiry into the Star Casino (see previous posting and reference below).

Neither Condon nor McClellan is likely to respond to this posting, being such important people, while the author is nothing but a nobody, poor victim.

(Note: The lawyer, Ms. Burke, mentioned above, will be led for the Salvation Army by Dr. Matthew Collins, SC, who is the author of “The Law of Defamation and the Internet”, the standard international text on the application of principles of defamation law to online publications. Curious choice.)

[Postscript: The Chief Commissioner of the Royal Commission, Peter McClellan, continues to refuse permission for the author to give evidence, or present a submission, at the up-coming hearings on abuses at the Salvation Army’s Indooroopilly Boys’ Home (“Alkira”) where the author once lived. The Salvation Army has been given such permission.]

Read more here:

TOMORROW: Why the delay?

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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