‘Silent majority could swing the election'
Long-haired Teeshan Johnson has assembled her troops and is itching for a fight.
"We have a small army on the ground. We have 3000 out there and our force is growing," she said.
The silent majority is emerging from its slumber in time for the October election, she says. And the cash is rolling in.
"You have no idea the support we are receiving," she said.
"There are more pro-lifers than you could possibly imagine."
Johnson, 44, whose family has historic Labor links, is a Pentecostal Christian just like ScoMo, and the first non-Catholic to head Cherish Life, the influential pro-life lobby that turns 50 this year.
We crossed paths at St Stephen's Cathedral in Brisbane.
Like me, Johnson went there to hear the Catholic bishops deliver their election manifesto.
She says Cherish Life has "lots of money" and has allocated somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000 to target marginal seas in a bid to oust the Palaszczuk government that she says, quite rightly, seems more concerned with helping to end life than preserve it.
Johnson was referring to the government's decriminalising of late-term abortion, and its move to legalise assisted suicide, or legalised homicide, as some of the faithful prefer to call it.
Johnson believes there were half a dozen or more Labor MPs who were coerced in to voting for abortion with the threat they would be disendorsed if they did not follow the party line. And she believes they will coerced into voting against their consciences again when the mercy killing Bill returns to Parliament.
With the major parties struggling to gain traction, political interlopers like Cherish Life smell blood. They want to see the progressives on the Left nailed to the cross. (My words, not Teeshan's.)
The election result remains cloudy with Pauline Hanson's One Nation overtaking the Greens while Clive Palmer's United Australia Party steps up its attack on Labor.
Cherish Life maintains it does not automatically favour one political party over another, but admits the pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia candidates it will target are invariably from the ALP and the Greens.
Cherish Life has already printed 500,000 pamphlets and will run television ads. And it has set up a provocative website where it targets individual ALP members. (www.laborlast.org.au).
Johnson appears a savvy political operator who can reel off the percentage swings required to unseat the progressives. There are 15 different versions of the pamphlets to suit different electorates.
"It the LNP can achieve a two per cent swing, we can provide the extras to push it over the line," Johnson said.
Her research tells her Cherish Life achieved a 3.5 per cent swing to help Bert van Manen win the Federal seat of Forde at the last election when the pundits had written him off.
"However we don't endorse candidates; we campaign against people who don't like the unborn," Johnson said.
On that basis she hopes Cherish Life can help unseat Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath, propelling the LNP's Kerri-Anne Dooley to victory in Redcliffe. Dooley was conspicuous at pro-life rallies at Parliament House in the lead-up to the abortion debate.
Works Minister Mick de Brenni is also in her sights.
Johnson is hoping Christ Life can achieve swings of up to four per cent.
She will run campaigns against Labor members in Redlands, Mansfield, Aspley, Pumicestone, Pine Rivers and Thuringowa.
Cherish Life's Gold Coast branch is making a special effort to target Labor's Meaghan Scanlon who holds the seat of Gaven by a slender margin.
Johnson is set to push the button on a provocative multimedia election campaign most likely to benefit Pauline Hanson's One Nation, Katter's Australia Party and the LNP.
"All these parties have made varying commitments to roll back the abortion laws," she said. Robbie Katter is her pin-up boy. She is especially pleased with his outspoken condemnation of abortion. She would be happy to help Katter's Australia claim Mundingburra or Thuringowa in the Townsville region, or propel Pauline Hanson's One Nation to victory in Maryborough or Keppel.
Johnson has a special mission to oust Greens MP Michael Berkman in Maiwar, saying the party had a plan to "nationalise" private hospitals run by Catholics and insist they carry out free abortions.
"That means these hospitals would be forced under the current law to provide abortions, even late-term ones for any reason," she said.
"The humble taxpayer would be forced to fit the entire bill of abortions, even late-term healthy babies of healthy women."
Back in the cathedral Archbishop Mark Coleridge lead a prayer for survivors of sexual abuse, victims of family violence, the elderly and those in the womb. But he said the church would not be telling parishioners which party to vote for.
About 30 MPs including two Labor Cabinet ministers listened as Coleridge asked if the Queensland community was willing to allow laws to declare some people's lives not worth living.
LNP leader Deb Frecklington sat in the front pew, but the seat reserved for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk remained empty. The Archbishop read an apology for her late withdrawal. LNP members speculated that the Premier chickened out to avoid media questions on a breaking news story about profound failures in hospitals.
The Archbishop's office offered a press kit with horror stories about assisted suicides abroad. In Belgium in the last two years three children were euthanised. Doctors helped 77 people suffering mental illness kill themselves, while another 177 people were granted a quick exit because they were lonely or suffering addictions.
Des Houghton is a media consultant and former editor of The Courier-Mail, The Sunday Mail and the Sunday Sun
Originally published as 'Silent majority' that could swing the election