Australia Victorian opposition leader laments Essendon CEO’s resignation, criticises premier’s comments

03:31  05 october  2022
03:31  05 october  2022 Source:   smh.com.au

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Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy says the resignation of Essendon CEO Andrew Thorburn because of his involvement in a controversial church group is “ridiculous”.

Guy also said Premier Daniel Andrews should not be telling the Bombers who to appoint as chief executive after the premier commented on the furore on Tuesday by saying he did not support the views of controversial City on the Hill church.

Matthew Guy, Andrew Thorburn and Daniel Andrews. © The Age Matthew Guy, Andrew Thorburn and Daniel Andrews.

Thorburn was appointed as Essendon chief executive officer on Monday, but resigned a day later following criticism of his role as chairman of City on a Hill, which is part of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne.

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Shortly after he got the Bombers’ role, public attention was drawn to sermons published on the church’s website in which other leaders of the organisation likened abortion to a concentration camp, and said practising homosexuality was a sin.

“What are we now banning people from going to church, banning people from going to a synagogue, banning people from going to a mosque? This is ridiculous,” Guy said on 3AW.

“Football clubs can hire who they choose. I don’t see, if I was the premier, why I would be telling people who they can hire and fire; why would you?”

On Tuesday, Andrews said the appointment of the CEO was a matter for the club, but criticised the views of the church. Thorburn had said he did not personally share all the views that had been aired by the church.

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“Those views [of the church] are absolutely appalling. I don’t support those views; that kind of intolerance, that kind of hatred, bigotry is just wrong,” Andrews said.

“All of you know my views on these things. Those sort of attitudes are simply wrong, and to dress that up as anything other than bigotry is just obviously false.”

Essendon president David Barham said on Tuesday he asked Thorburn to choose between his position at the church and his new role as Essendon CEO after the club learnt of the sermons posted on his church’s website.

“As soon as the comments relating to a 2013 sermon from a pastor, at the City of the Hill church came to light this morning, we acted immediately to clarify the publicly espoused views on the organisation’s official website, which are in direct contradiction to our values as a club,” Barham said.

“Essendon is committed to providing an inclusive, diverse and a safe club, where everyone is welcome and respected.

Thorburn released a statement online on Tuesday evening which said he was being asked to compromise “beyond a level his conscience allowed”.

“Today it became clear to me that my personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in the public square, at least by some and perhaps by many,” he said in the statement.

“People should be able to hold different views on complex personal and moral matters, and be able to live and work together, even with those differences, and always with respect.”

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Essendon CEO's resignation 'rings the bell for those with traditional values' .
Liberal Senator Alex Antic says Essendon CEO Andrew Thorburn's resignation “rings the bell” for those with traditional values to “understand what we’re up against”. Mr Thorburn has accused the media and leaders of the community of judging him based on his faith, arguing they made it clear his association with the church is unacceptable. “Time for sitting back and thinking someone else will fix this is over,” Mr Antic told Sky News host Chris Kenny.

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