George Pell's file server, three finance ministers & Peter Eckersley

Since the revelation that my father brought home a file server from the diocese, there have been numerous queries about what was on the hard disk.

It is an incredible story.

Cardinal Pell himself would go on to become finance minister of the vatican, the third most important Catholic in Rome.

In 1996, Lynne Kosky was elected to the seat of Altona in the Victorian parliament. I previously wrote about Lynne and another friend, Sally, who died from cancer. Lynne was one of my first web hosting customers in 1998. As it turns out, Lynne, like Cardinal Pell, would go on to become Minister for Finance in the State of Victoria. Lynne is better known for her subsequent role as Minister for Education. Ironically, the server had been used in the Catholic Education Office, the main rival of state education.

In 1993, Lindsay Tanner was elected as the representative for inner Melbourne in the federal parliament. Lindsay's party was in opposition for many years. Lindsay's office was close to the university of Melbourne and in the same building as the National Union of Students. Coincidentally, like Lynne, Lindsay also chose to use my early web hosting service. When the Kevin Rudd government was swept to power in 2007, Lindsay was one of the key leaders, being the candidate for Finance Minister.

After one term in the highest level of Government, Lindsay would quit the parliament and publish a book highly critical of the system. Ironically, after Cardinal Pell passed away he was also revealed to be the source of anonymous blogs criticizing his leader the Pope. has a treasure trove of Lindsay's early blog posts about public affairs.

Kosky and Tanner were on the left-leaning end of the political spectrum, much the opposite of Pell's staunch conservatism. Nonetheless, I suspect they would be amused that their first web sites were hosted on a file server that formerly belonged to Pell. Tanner's observations in Sideshow are very similar to Pell's criticism that public opinion can undermine justice.

Pell (from his prison diary): Just as wisdom and discernment are needed, so, too, courage is required of those investigating and judging, so they can be independent of the tidal waves of public opinion.

Pell famously turned down a career in elite football, choosing to become a priest instead. Lindsay Tanner has recently been elected as chairman of AFL Victoria. Go figure.

The Yarra Yarra Rowing Club web site was hosted on the same server for some time. The picture below is from my third Head of the Yarra. Our typical morning training session would take us up to St Kevin's school, home of the boys in Cardinal Pell's choir and back to the city center. The athlete behind me in 7 seat went on to become one of Australia's most distinguished police commanders. How close we both came to the highest profile scandal in the Catholic church.

Peter Eckersley was there too

Last but not least, the same server was hosting web sites for the Virtual Moreland Community Network. One of our users was the late Peter Eckersley. I found some public emails from Peter using his vmore address.

Cardinal Pell vs Google: who blackmailed Australia first?

Here is that infamous quote when Pell attempted to blackmail the government of New South Wales with a threat to excommunicate Catholic politicians.

Pell: Catholic politicians who vote for this legislation must realise that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the Church.

The blackmail backfired. Two weeks before Pell passed away, his old friend John Howard was in the news as the secret cabinet papers are about to be unclassified for this very subject.

In 2021, Google tried the same blackmail, (video) threatening to excommunicate Australian residents from search services. Thanks to Pell, our politicans were prepared for this type of bullying.