CHURCHES BLAST TSUNAMI OF REFORM IN TASMANIA
Source: Compiled by APN from various sources
Tasmania’s church leaders have united to try to stop the "tsunami" of social changes being pushed by the Tasmanian Government. Anglican Bishop John Harrower and Catholic Archbishop Adrian Doyle are among those calling for the Government not to ignore Christian values as it pushes for legislative reform on euthanasia, abortion and same-sex marriage. Presbyterian moderator David Jones, the Baptist Union's John Smith, Australian Christian Churches Pastor Peter Shurley, and Salvation Army division commander Ritchie Watson were among the others to sign the "Salamanca Declaration".
The group said it affirmed the values of "life, liberty and legacy". Bishop Harrower said the "appalling" abortion laws cemented social and economic factors that could include gender selection as reasons for justifying terminations up to full term. "Are we moving to infanticide?" he asked. "This is not the same as Victorian legislation." Legana Christian Church pastor Andrew Corbett said the termination law was more dramatic than the most liberalised in the world. He said Christian views were specifically excluded in the legislation. "Enough's enough," he said.
Over 300 Tasmanians packed the Hobart Town Hall to hear how decriminalising abortion would have devastating effects on the rights of the unborn and the consciences of doctors and counsellors. The forum was organised by local churches with the help of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and FamilyVoice Australia (FAVA) in response to the Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne’s private members’ bill to allow unfettered abortion up to 24 weeks and after 24 weeks with the consent of two doctors. The audience heard from senior lecturer in law at the University of Tasmania Michael Stokes, GP Dr Helen Lord, Anne Sherston, abortion counsellor, and Michael Ferguson MP.
The rapturous applause between speakers conveyed not only an appreciation for the courage and content of the message but also a growing righteous anger in the Christian community against the onslaught of this type of socially destructive legislation. The show of strength is another encouraging sign that people are getting active. Michael Ferguson gave permission to “make your pollies feel uncomfortable” about changes the public are not happy with. Mr Ferguson has received almost 400 emails in opposition to the abortion bill. Public protests have been well attended in Launceston and Hobart over the past few weeks and show no signs of letting up.
To cap this awakening of the church, the Salamanca Declaration was launched at Parliament House. Following the lead of The Manhattan Declaration and The Canberra Declaration, the Salamanca Declaration on Life, Liberty and Legacy is a joint statement by each of Tasmania’s major heads of Churches and Christian Networks. It affirms that all human life is sacred, that we are all endowed with the liberty to worship God and have our conscience be informed by our faith in God, and that marriage between a man and a woman is the best home environment to raise children.
The declaration is being run by Believe in Tasmania, a faith-based forum of business, academic and church leaders for a better Tasmania. Believe in Tasmania will be tabling the document in the Tasmanian parliament – representing the state’s Christian community – as a unified response to the social issues currently dividing public opinion. Whether a Tasmanian resident or not, we encourage you to get on board and sign the declaration today to show your support for Life, Liberty and Legacy. Sign up at http://www.believeintasmania.com/
MOVES TO DECRIMINALISE ABORTION IN TASMANIA ONE STEP CLOSER
Source: Compiled by APN from media reports
Despite concerns not all Labor MPs would vote for the controversial legislation, last-minute commitments from undecided members secured the passage of a Bill proposing the decriminalisation of abortion in Tasmania to the next stage. The support of Attorney-General Brian Wightman along with fellow Labor MPs Brenton Best and Graeme Sturges, gave Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne enough votes to see her private member's Bill through the Lower House. Ms O'Byrne and fellow Labor and Greens MPs in support of the legislation were left sweating on the decisions of Mr Wightman and Brenton Best when it emerged that no Liberal MPs would be supporting the Bill.
All Lower House MPs were given a conscience vote on the issue. The five Green MPs voted in support of the legislation, along with nine Labor MPs. Despite the Opposition sending messages all week that no Liberal MPs would support the bill, Leader Will Hodgman and his deputy Jeremy Rockliff were roundly criticised by those on the opposite side of the House when they voted against the legislation. Mr Rockliff said he was pro-choice but said the lack of public consultation on the Bill meant he could not support it. "No one could argue that with the magnitude of divergent views on this subject the time period for input was just too short," Mr Rockliff said.
Mr Rockliff's sentiments were echoed by Mr Hodgman. "I express my disappointment with the way the legislation was brought to the parliament with sub-standard consultation with the community," Mr Hodgman said. He said the legislation had caused division in the community because of the lack of consultation and proper process. Mr Wightman, who was widely regarded as one of three Labor MPs grappling with whether or not to support the Bill, said it was the hardest decision he had made during his time in Parliament. But he said it was not his right to dictate to women on control of their bodies.
Despite speculation he might vote otherwise, Labor MP Graeme Sturges was the first of three possible Labor members to support the Bill. Mr Sturges said a letter from a friend had helped him decide. Premier Lara Giddings and Labor MP Rebecca White suggested they would seek amendments to the Bill allowing abortions as late as 18 or 20 weeks.
FIRST MUSLIM WOMAN IN NSW PARLIAMENT
Source: Compiled by APN from media reports
Mehreen Faruqi says there will be no conflict between faith and politics when she becomes the first Muslim woman in any parliament in Australia. Dr Faruqi will replace NSW upper house MP Cate Faehrmann when she resigns from NSW politics in June to run for a seat in the Senate. Dr Faruqi won the Greens preselection from among a field of seven women-only candidates, in another first for the party. The move makes Dr Faruqi the first Muslim woman appointed to any parliament in Australia, the party said. While she will be advocating for Islamic-sensitive issues such as same-sex marriage in her new role, there would be no potential conflict of ideas, Dr Faruqi said.
"We live in a secular society in Australia and for me same-sex marriage is an issue of human rights and quite easily justifiable. We need a spectrum of diverse politicians in Australia who can represent Muslim communities,” Mehreen Faruqi said "It shows the world that we really value multiculturalism.” “Mehreen's Pakistani heritage not only breaks new ground for the Greens but it breaks new grounds for politics in NSW, and indeed the whole country,” Faehrmann said in a statement. Migrating from Pakistan with her family in 1992, Mehreen describes herself as an “environmental engineer, climate change and education activist, proud union member and feminist.”