Australian Commentary (51)

                      Taking on Tim Costello

Church leaders, including World Vision chief executive Tim Costello, have demanded Mr Morrison [ Australia’s Federal Treasurer] live up to his Christian beliefs and previous concern for Africans in need to “make a significant difference” in the foreign-aid budget.

Mr Costello, the brother of former treasurer and Mr Morrison’s economic confidant Peter Costello, said the demands on the Treas­urer’s Christian beliefs were “tough” but “fair.”

Citing the parable of the Good Samaritan, Tim Costello said Mr Morrison had raised his beliefs in his maiden speech in parliament and now had to increase foreign aid, a course supported by Mr Morrison’s own Shirelive Church.[1]

I have some things in common with Tim Costello, who claims to be a Christian. That’s good. What we don’t have in common, is his attitude towards governments handing over taxpayers’ money in “Overseas Aid.” Why don’t I agree with this?

It’s a long way from the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), to governments taxing us and sending it overseas. The similarity is purely superficial. Why?

The Good Samaritan was an individual. He had wine, oil, bandages, a donkey, money and some time to voluntarily help a victim of crime, his “neighbour.” But governments are no one’s neighbour.

Charity is a Biblical concept which Jesus clearly endorses, but never in the Bible is it a task for governments. It is for individuals, families and churches to attend to voluntarily. When governments accept this task, it means the role and responsibility of individuals is reduced.

Unfortunately, 95% of the church has neglected to take note of this important distinction. The role of government is to enforce the law, which should always be God’s law. When governments take on other roles, their tasks without exception become distorted, perverse and almost unlimited. Suddenly, taxpayers’ money is needed for everything!

The hapless, defenceless taxpayer has to keep putting his hand in his pocket for all manner of expenses he may never endorse at all. But if he doesn’t endorse some of the costs of government, that’s just too bad; the government takes the money anyway. He’ll finish up in court if he refuses to pay, and he’ll lose.

The 8th chapter of 1st Samuel makes it clear that as government expenses increase, evil also increases; the two are clearly correlated. And when the cost of government matches or is greater than the expense that God charges His people (the tithe), that nation is under God’s judgement (v.15-18).

“There may be no votes in foreign­ aid but bad times are the times for us to help those in need,” Mr Costello said.

Australian individuals, families and churches may feel they should be caring for people overseas. If they want to, there are many avenues they can go down to accomplish this. They should not be compelled to contribute to overseas aid through taxation. But Tim Costello doesn’t mind petitioning the Treasurer to pay big dollars with this in mind, and let’s face it: he has a vested interest in seeing this come about; his organisation (which pays him), benefits.

Meanwhile, his [Morrison’s] Christianity and declarations of support for needy people are being used by church groups, including the ACL, to urge him to restore billions in foreign aid cut from previous Coal­ition budgets.

Many years ago, Rousas Rushdoony wrote a book entitled, “The Politics of Guilt and Pity.” He explained how western politics is largely a matter of governments being manipulated by guilt to provide welfare to poor people.

Is it any wonder that we continue to be pressured and manipulated by people to hand over monies for the cause of the needy overseas? While the church continues to behave like the Muddle-Headed Wombat, unable or unwilling to stand up to these subtle means of political and financial abuse, it will continue. Our costs of government will not decrease, and neither will oppressive taxation.

And if we wonder why, it is summed up in this maxim: people get the governments they deserve.


The Federal Treasurer is a likely target for organisations that want access to government money, because he has the power to write big cheques. But when Scott Morrison announces the budget measures in a week or so, I hope and pray that Overseas Aid is not a beneficiary, that it doesn’t get a dollar.

“Overseas Aid” is fine, when individuals are choosing to pay. When governments do it, they are being manipulated by a sense of guilt that they should not and ought not accept.

When the church decides to study the Bible again, and becomes familiar with what God requires of government, it will be able to give government good advice, something which governments always need, especially today.



[1] “Budget 2016: Christian Address Tumult for Scott Morrison,” Dennis Shanahan, ‘The Australian,’ 23/4/2016.