Shock jock slams ex-PMs over Pell
SYDNEY radio heavyweight Ray Hadley has had enough of the "gushing" and "over-the-top" support provided to convicted child sex offender George Pell by two of Australia's former prime ministers.
In a spray on 2GB this morning, Hadley called out John Howard and Tony Abbott for comments they made following news Australia's most senior catholic was found guilty of molesting two teenagers in 1996.
Pell, 77, is awaiting sentencing over an attack on two 13-year-old boys at Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral. He molested one and sexually penetrated the other.
But the Victorian County Court yesterday received a glowing endorsement of Pell's character from Mr Howard. It was followed by comments from Mr Abbott, who said the crimes Pell committed "don't sound consistent with the man I have known".
Hadley said Mr Howard went way too far.
"There's no mention of any victims in Mr Howard's reference," Hadley said.
"This gushing reference, in my opinion, was over the top … I am really struggling to get a grip on it."
He said Mr Abbott should "allow justice to take its course".
"(He's) shown a complete lack of understanding of victims of paedophiles," Hadley said. "His electorate would be looking at all this at the moment and scratching their heads."
Mr Howard is one of 10 people who provided a character reference at Pell's pre-sentencing hearing yesterday. The reference, written with full knowledge of Pell's conviction, labels the former Vatican official "a person of both high intelligence and exemplary character".
"I am aware he has been convicted of those charges; that an appeal against the conviction has been lodged and that he maintains his innocence in respect of these charges. None of these matters alter my opinion of the Cardinal," Mr Howard wrote.
"I have known Cardinal Pell for approximately 30 years. We first became acquainted when he was, I think, an Assistant Bishop in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Inevitably we became better known to each other after he became Archbishop of Melbourne and, later still, Archbishop of Sydney.
"Cardinal Pell is a person of both high intelligence and exemplary character. Strength and sincerity have always been features of his personality. I have always found him to be lacking hypocrisy and cant. In his chosen vocation he has frequently displayed much courage and held to his values and beliefs, irrespective of the prevailing wisdom of the time.
"Cardinal Pell is a lively conversationalist who maintains a deep and objective interest in contemporary social and political issues.
"It is my view that he has dedicated his life to his nation and his church."
Mr Abbott told 2GB on Tuesday that "the charges (against Pell) are false".
"He's been found guilty by a court of a horrible crime, an absolutely horrible crime. It is going on appeal and let's see what the appeal court ultimately decides," Mr Abbott said.
Another Liberal, Federal Member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, made his feelings about the Pell verdict known on Facebook. He shared News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt's comments alongside the words "beyond reasonable doubt?"
But Kent Johns, the NSW Liberal Party Vice President, told Nine News he was "disgusted" with his colleague.
"The problem with his (Kelly's) comment is that he is our representative in the federal parliament so he is supposed to speak for our community," Mr Johns said.
"This case has victims of abuse reliving their trauma and this just causes more pain by questioning the justice system. It may make victims even more unlikely to come forward because they feel they won't be believed."
Pell will return to the County Court for sentencing on March 13. He spent his first night behind bars at the Melbourne Assessment Prison last night.