Tumultuous changes in the Labor government demand the occasional sacrifice of principals. With the usual speaker still down with some mysterious disease caught at the EID festival last year, I am dragooned into delivering a speech to the ‘Is Islam A Religion of War, and Nothing More?’ gala event. Billed as the Annual Evening of Debate, Dinner and Denial, this year it’s being held at the Sydney Opera House.
In pursuit of the Muslim vote I find myself in the unaccustomed position of having to offer, in defiance of all logic, an argument against the motion. Rudd’s hope is that the predominantly moderate Muslim audience will express their gratitude, and dutifully vote Labor again anyway.
In the end my speech seems convincing enough and there is polite applause. But some of the audience seem restless.
Community spokesman Keysar Trad stands up to speak for them, again with another question out of the blue. This time he wants to know just how his community’s pet ‘Islamism Is For Aussies’ so-called charity foundation is going to manage to survive after the EU Commission’s decision on the weekend to declare Hizbollah a terrorist organisation. It’s going to cut our budget by three quarters, Trad exclaims. Where can we get funding from now?, he demands.
I shrug my shoulders, suggest he speak to the Saudis, and, after handing out Labor how- to-vote cards, quickly leave the building, feeling pleased things went so well.
When I get home, a reassuring email from the Royal gynaecologist, Marcus Setchell, completely ruling out any possibility whatsoever that the new baby will follow the British national trend and be named Mohammad, tops the evening off nicely.