February 8th 2020

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Sensible environment policies can counter extremists

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Bushfires: Never let a good crisis go to waste

CANBERRA OBSERVED Submarine build gives us a sinking feeling

RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION Bill Mark II a shade better but still faulty

OBITUARY Wilson Gavin: Requiescat in Pace

WORLD AFFAIRS Central banks move to dictate climate policies

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Trump impeachment will end with a whimper

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Australia considers a Magnitsky-type law

SOCIETY The optimist vindicated? Er, no!

LITERATURE AND SOCIETY The poetry of Distributism

ASIAN POLITICS Changing of the guard: Taiwan votes

HUMOUR Legal X-clamation points and that

MUSIC Is there a way to virtue via the sublime?

CINEMA The Authentic Mr Rogers: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

BOOK REVIEW How little, low-tech militias stay under the radar of huge, high-tech armies

BOOK REVIEW First novel dips into depths of medical murder-suspense genre



FOREIGN AFFAIRS Coronavirus: China must answer hard questions

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Wilson Gavin: Requiescat in Pace

by Jean Westbury

News Weekly, February 8, 2020


They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead,
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed.

William Johnson Cory

Wilson Gavin was simply unforgettable. He was a man of great flair and a capacious heart ever burning for the downtrodden, whether it be the homeless he faithfully served every Saturday with the Missionaries of Charity, or the peoples of lands he had never seen, oppressed by Communist China. He possessed incredible courage, never hiding his face while standing up for what he knew to be right.

Wilson first stepped into the public eye in September 2017, proclaiming firmly at a rally in his Alma Mater, the University of Queensland, that he was gay and voting “no” to same-sex marriage. Other same-sex-attracted conservatives either withdrew from being interviewed or agreed to appear on camera with their identities concealed. Not Wilson. He was passionate about his principles and eager to engage in open debate to defend them.

Wilson Gavin

Wilson struck many as mature beyond his 21 years, in mien as well as in intellect and taste. He had an incredible memory for a vast library of tomes and papal encyclicals, quoting them liberally in conversation, ever eager to share his love of the Catholic Church, to which he had reverted in 2014, following a Tridentine Mass with Father Gregory Jordan SJ on Roodmas Day; its solemn beauty moved him to tears.

He managed to convince his university pals to join him for a night at the opera, and made plans for another. Wilson was enamoured of classical music; he knew all about every composer, even the obscure ones.

He held forth manfully on Sky News in May 2018, waxing lyrical about the British monarchy; he declared: “I’m a lover of all things traditional, all things beautiful, and there’s nothing more traditional in this country than the monarchy. It’s a tremendous asset.”

Wilson never did things by halves. He dedicated an entire year of his life teaching English to children in Mongolia. He participated in numerous protests alongside Hong Kong students, and merrily blasted the Taiwanese anthem through a megaphone during a pro-Communist China Confucius Institute event. He even clambered atop the tallest building in his university and hoisted the Taiwanese flag aloft.

Even on the last day of his life, Wilson was solicitous for his friends’ eternal salvation, introducing a practising Pentecostal and a lapsed Anglican to the Latin Mass. He was very pleased with the homily, which mentioned the scourge of identity politics.

After Sunday Mass, Wilson led a band of young friends into the central city council library in Brisbane Square. It was only on Friday that he had noticed a “drag queen hour” was being held for children in the heart of Brisbane, and he thoroughly researched the LGBT literature plus the background of the adult performers involved.

He was aghast, and believed it his duty to speak up against the overt sexualisation and indoctrination of children into the LGBT worldview. “Those children haven’t a chance!” he exclaimed, observing the proceedings.

“Drag queens are not for kids!” chanted the youth as they followed Wilson's lead. Wilson had dismissed some other suggestions, such as “No money for drag queens” – he wasn't against drag queens earning a living per se, but thought it outrageous that ratepayers’ money was being used for such questionable antics with minors.

Predictably, the media backlash exaggerated the clash; the youth had not entered the soundproof room wherein the children had spent the better part of an hour listening to the two drag queens, one of whom had a stage name referring to an obscene act. They were just outside in the main section of the library.

Wilson, calm as always, was trying to reason with the angry drag queen who emerged. As a friend of his noted: “He never once resorted to personal insult or vitriol.”

Another friend states: “He was the kind of person who lifts your whole heart and soul. The first time I saw him he was stepping up onto a stone to make a speech. Instantly his presence and magnetism hit me, and the image of his slight frame rising above the mob beneath him stayed with me forever, even before what ultimately happened.

“He never slouched or slumbered, but leapt and exclaimed with the energy of a hundred people. He was always alert and impeccably dressed, his RMs, chinos and famous pink shirts never absent.

“No one could hold the energy of a room like Wilson. He was as cool and collected as a cucumber. I’ve made a hobby of watching famous speakers, MPs and others handle angry crowds, but I never saw anyone who could control a crowd with a wave of his hand like Wilson. He took your breath away and filled you with awe and peace at the same time.

“He embodied all that was good about life, the beauty of the world and the grace of God's Love.”

At 7.07 am on Monday, January 13, 2020, emergency services were called to Chelmer train station; they could not save Wilson from the critical injuries he had suffered.

That night, Mary Immaculate Church was overflowing with his friends, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, for a Tridentine Low Mass celebrated by Fr Andrew Wise, who had preached the homily Wilson so admired the day before. I had never seen such crowds, besides at the funerals of well-loved priests.

Wilson left us on the Feast of Saint Hilary of Poitiers, from whom we have this fragmentary acrostic hymn:

Xriste, reuersus caelos uictor in tuos
memento carnis, in qua natus es, meae.
Ymnos perennes angelorum cum choris
in hoc resurgens laeta psallam corpore.
Zelauit olim me in morte satanas:
regnantem cernat tecum totis saeculis.

Christ, returning to heaven victorious,
remember my flesh, in which You were born.
Unending songs with the angel choirs
shall I gladly sing when I rise in this body.
Once Satan desired me in death:
may he see me reign with You for ever.

Rest in peace, dear Wilson. May you reign with Christ for ever.


Some of Wilson’s own writings can be read here, here and here.


Tributes from some of Wilson’s friends appear below.


Wilson’s commitment to his faith was to the envy of many young Catholics. He threw himself into bringing those struggling with their faith back into the fold; often taking time out of his busy schedule to teach the sacraments, guide the wayward Catholics back into the confessional, pray for them and consistently attend mass on Sundays.

Throughout it all, Wilson never backed down in defending the church, defending the faithful and defending our way of life. Wilson saw it as his duty to spread the good news and to live out his faith through his actions.

Wilson was an ardent follower of B.A. Santamaria and Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen. His knowledge of the inner workings of the National Civic Council, the Country Party and the Democratic Labour Party were beyond his years. Wilson keenly followed the stories of Tony Abbott and Greg Sheridan during their university days, often modelling our political escapades and strategies on their work.

But politics was not his defining feature.

He was a fantastic man, a loyal friend, a true mate and an inspiration to a lot of young Catholics across Queensland. He inspired people, who had never had the pleasure of meeting him, into action.

Most importantly, he believed in the importance of faith and works. He relished his time working with the Sisters at the Missionaries of Charity in Fortitude Valley. He deeply loved and admired their work, always encouraging our friendship group to assist with the soup kitchen every Saturday.

Throughout it all, he was a selfless individual who would often use the little money he had to give to the homeless fella on the street, throw dinner parties for his closest friends and invite us to join him for countless pints at the uni pub.

I owe to Wilson not just my loyalty but my sincere thanks for bringing me back to Mass and strengthening my relationship with God. He often pushed me to stop, as he would say, “finding the easy way out” by attending my local service and to attend Traditional Latin Mass on Sundays.

Wilson was deeply loved and cherished by many. His untimely passing will leave a hole in the hearts of many who were close to him. His legacy will continue to live on through those he brought back into the congregation, the countless loyal friends he had at his side and the memories many shared with him throughout his short 21 years.

Wilson’s charm, humour, intellect and courage are genuinely irreplaceable and the likes of him will not be seen for a long time to come. He was a true legend and a man with so much potential. His passing is a huge loss and he will be sorely missed.

Rest in peace, mate.

Samuel Pulsford


He advised all of his friends in the importance of the Sacraments with stories of how it brought him great solace. He often would encourage his friends to attend Confession frequently.

Wilson had a great appreciation for the liturgy. He always loved praying the Rosary in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because he said it was akin to holding Mary’s hand at the foot of the Cross.

He showed absolute reverence and devotion to the Real Presence and would spend an extraordinary amount of time in adoration at Villa Maria. He would often say that nothing calmed him more than being in the presence of Our Lord in the flesh.

Wilson held dear the Missionaries of Charity and their soup kitchen at Fortitude Valley. He was quite pleased, this year in the Christmas play that he was moving up from a narrator to an Angel. He always recounted seeing the Nuns while he was in Mongolia where he was teaching English. Their charism of joy and charity was one that he held close to his heart.

At 21 years of age, Wilson Gavin was mature beyond his years. His knowledge about the Saints, the Church, and her history was extensive. He was quick to quote encyclicals, which never ceased to inspire those around him.

His holiday to Italy a few years ago deepened his spirituality. He spent his time in Italy attending mass at as many churches as he could and when he came back, he brought his knowledge and experiences with him. As a traditional “Irish Catholic”, he believed that in every new church he attended he would get three new wishes.

The day before he died he brought a practising Pentecostal and a lapsed Anglican to Catholic Mass for the first time. Wilson was one of the major reasons that my faith strengthened and quite a lot of people would feel the same way. If Wilson were watching the Mass on Monday night, he would have been pleased to see the Church full.

Wilson’s love of beauty reached its fulfilment in the Catholic Church, with her intrinsic values, traditions, history, teachings and her Holy Sacraments.

Despite the diverse opposition he faced in his university life, Wilson held true to his Catholic values. Despite a university culture that is often hostile to Christian beliefs, Wilson publically displayed courage, bravery and determination in advocating for his values. His attributes reflected God’s love for all those whose paths he crossed.

Wilson will be sorely missed by his friends to whom he gave spiritual guidance; his parish community; and with his family, where his light will no longer be felt. We mourn his death and appreciate the values, determination and courage that he lived by.

Name withheld



Even before I met the man who I would come to have the privilege to call a friend, I was already aware that Wilson was a person of tremendous faith. I had of course heard the stories of the young political firebrand making waves at university. His antics were the stuff of legend. Yet, everything he did was out of a sense of duty to his faith and for the glory of the Church.

For a long time, I myself had left the embrace of the faith. I had been raised as a Catholic, but through my time at secondary school felt myself drifting further away from God. Only in the last few months did I feel myself being called back. Wilson played no small part in that.

Wilson did so much to renew my faith in the Catholic Church. He guided me through the trials I faced in returning to the teachings of Christ: my doubts surrounding the historicity of the resurrection and the authority of priests to forgive the sins of man foremost amongst them.

After each Mass I attended with Wilson, I felt closer and closer to the faith I had lost as a younger student. At every post-Mass breakfast our friendship grew and he revealed those things for which he was so loved: his charity, compassion, understanding and commitment to the faith were beyond reproach.

There was no one I have ever known who had the same courage of their convictions as Wilson. He was quite simply extraordinary. His knowledge of the Scriptures was as prodigious as his determination to defend their universal truth was fierce.

One struggles to find a stauncher advocate for the rights of the unborn and the poor. Our attendance at an event raising money for pregnancy crisis is one of the most moving experiences I shared with Wilson. In the last few weeks of his remarkable life I was able to see how he lived Christ’s example while at a soup kitchen.

The world is immeasurably poorer without Wilson Gavin in it. The Church has lost one of it champions, the community one its strongest advocates, and I have lost a friend. We can only hope to live up to the example he set in his faith.

May he rest in peace.

Connor Lindsay

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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