Monthly Archives

June 2019


By Australian Newsletter

Conservative Coalition MPs emboldened by strong support from religious voters at the election are pushing the Morrison government for far-reaching religious freedom provisions in forthcoming laws.  Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce wants laws to exempt religious beliefs from employment contracts, in effect giving legal protection to views such as those expressed by rugby star Israel Folau that homosexuals and fornicators will go to hell.  “You can’t bring people’s faith beliefs into a contract,” Mr Joyce said.  “Your own views on who or where god is or whether there is a god should remain your own personal views and not part of any contractual obligation.”

Attorney-General Christian Porter is expected to present a Religious Discrimination Act to the Parliament in July, acting on a pre-election commitment to boost protections for people of faith against discrimination and vilification.  But some Coalition MPs believe the election results, including significant swings away from Labor in highly religious seats, underline the case for bolder reforms to enshrine freedoms other than freedom from discrimination.  Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who worked extensively with faith leaders to galvanise the support of religious voters during the campaign, said the election marked a “new dawn” on religious freedom.

She called for a standalone Religious Freedom Act that would give greater legal heft to the demands set out by church leaders, Christian schools and other faith-based institutions.  Senator Fierravanti-Wells also said the government need not await the findings of a review being undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) into exemptions to anti-discrimination laws currently enjoyed by religious schools.  “Whilst the ALRC is not due to report until April 2020, given its diverse and broad terms of reference, I believe that the recent election has reinforced the need for more immediate legislative action,” she told the press.

“This is vitally important to not only address our concerns but afford protection against these constant incursions from Labor, the Greens and their acolytes.  It’s a new dawn on this issue.”  Senator Fierravanti-Wells, who voted against marriage equality when it was legalised in 2017, said the election results “had their antecedents in the same-sex marriage debate”, noting large swings to the government in culturally diverse seats around western Sydney.  Banks, Blaxland, Fowler and McMahon, which voted “no” to same-sex marriage, all posted swings to the Coalition above 3 per cent, although so did many electorates that voted “yes”.

Mr Joyce, a former Nationals leader, said Folau’s sacking “got a lot of people annoyed” during the election campaign.  “People were a little bit shocked that someone could lose their job because of what they believe,” he said.  “It made everyone feel a bit awkward and uneasy.”  Mr Joyce said he would argue within the Coalition that any religious freedom law should include clauses to prevent employers crafting contracts that could penalise people for their religious beliefs.  “That would be my input, but whether it’s what other people’s views are, I don’t know,” he said.

Such a law should not necessarily be nicknamed “Folau’s Law” because it would give the sacked rugby player credit for a law that “should be designed for everybody”, Mr Joyce said.  Late last year, in response to former attorney-general Philip Ruddock’s review, Mr Porter pledged to introduce a Religious Discrimination Act and appoint a religious freedom commissioner to the Australian Human Rights Commission.  Last week he said religious freedom was a “key issue” in the election campaign due to “enormous concern” about Labor’s plans on the issue, and indicated legislation would be a priority when Parliament resumes at the start of July.

New Labor leader Anthony Albanese acknowledged his party needed to show greater “respect” to religious views after frontbenchers Chris Bowen and Tony Burke publicly lamented that people of faith had lost trust in Labor and progressive politics.  Liberal senator Eric Abetz said the Coalition owed Rugby Australia “a bit of gratitude because their ham-fisted approach to Israel Folau clearly elevated the issue and concerned many, many people”.  He agreed with Senator Fierravanti-Wells on the need for positively-framed legislation to establish religious freedoms but said it should be broader and encompass free speech.

Source:  Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The Victorian Government has reintroduced a bill to Parliament which would make it easier for people to change the gender recorded on their birth certificate to male, female or any other gender descriptor of their choice.  Children would be able to change their gender if their choice was supported by their parents and a medical professional.  The bill was introduced by Labor in 2016 but was blocked by the Coalition.  It is likely to pass this time with support from non-government crossbenchers in the Upper House.  The reform is aimed at improving existing laws, where Victorians can only change their birth certificate after they have undergone gender reassignment surgery.

Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia have all already removed the requirement for surgery to occur before a birth certificate gender is changed.  The bill was first introduced in 2016 when it was opposed by the Coalition and failed to pass.  Premier Daniel Andrews said he was hopeful the legislation would have the support it needed the second time around.  “In this state, equality is not negotiable and we are well-known, and I think well-viewed, for the fact that we treat every Victorian equally with respect and dignity and that who you are is enough, you’re valued for exactly who you are,” he said.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said he would like to see the details of the bill in its current form before making a decision on whether or not to support it.  “We don’t know if it’s going to be exactly the same bill, or different, so we’ll see the detail and we’ll make a reasoned decision,” he said.  “I suppose society is grappling with that question of, is a birth certificate supposed to reflect how you were born, or does it reflect how you identify at a point in time?”  Even if the Coalition opposes the bill, it should still pass the Upper House, after the Greens and Animal Justice Party confirmed they would support it.  The Reason Party’s Fiona Patten is also likely to support it.

Under the proposal, Victorians could choose their own gender description, but the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages would be able to reject any descriptions that are obscene or offensive.  The bill would also allow children to alter the sex recorded on their birth certificate, provided they had support from their parents and a statement of support from a doctor, registered psychologist or other “prescribed person”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has commended South Australian (SA) Labor leader Peter Malinauskas who has raised serious concerns about the Greens’ prostitution decriminalisation Bill.  ACL State director Christopher Brohier said that Mr Malinauskas properly raised the question that we must decide if brothels should be allowed next to schools.  “This among other issues raised by the Labor leader in relation to street work, are key community concerns that the current Tammy Franks’ Bill will allow in SA,” commented Mr Brohier.“

ACL was saddened by the approach taken by the Liberal Attorney-General Vicki Chapman and the Liberal Deputy leader in the Upper House Michelle Lensink, which reflected a lack of consideration of the obvious flaws of the Greens’ Bill.” “Decriminalisation will lead to increased demand and industrialisation of prostitution and so to increased trafficking,” warned Mr Brohier.  The Australian Christian Lobby calls on the Upper House members to reject the Greens’ Bill and instead consider the Nordic Model of prostitution law reform which provides meaningful exit strategies for those prostituted and criminalises the buying of sex.

Source:  Australian Christian Lobby

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By Australian Newsletter

Tonight my adjournment speech is about the very important issue of religious freedom.  It is a very important issue for the Christian Democratic Party but it is also important for the majority of people in Australia.  We have just had two major elections, one in New South Wales that saw the return of Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the most recent election that saw the election of the Federal Government under our Christian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.  Many issues motivate the public in casting their vote for this or that party or person but there is one issue that I think impacted both elections and will likely remain a pressing concern for many people.

I am referring to religious freedom or, rather, how that freedom has no guarantees in law or statute.  As members know, the Ruddock review was very clear in its recommendations, one of which stated that legislation should be passed to protect the rights and liberties of people of faith.  I recall the Government indicated to me that it would not be taking any action until the review published its findings and the recommendations were known to all.  We now have the recommendations but so far no action has been taken, although I have given notice of a bill dealing with religious freedom that I hope will be debated in the next few weeks.

This issue has resulted in many people of conscience having their lives turned upside down and their careers ruined.  This has happened not because of what they did or said having a really harmful impact on anyone but because a small minority in this country are very negative in their attitude to people of faith.  They feign offence so as to attack and vilify.  This illustrates an abuse of existing laws that seek to limit discrimination and vilification in society.  These laws, which we support, are now being abused.  We now have a system that facilitates and enables the discrimination of people of faith, when they have done nothing other than preach to their own congregations.

Members would be aware of the recent case of Israel Folau.  Israel is a great sportsman but when he is not on the field he is a preacher in his community church.  By exercising his right to speak on a social media website by quoting the Bible he became the focus of a relentless campaign of hate that finally led to the end of his professional career.  This is not an issue that only religious people should be concerned about.  The new puritans who are sniffing out witches to burn at the stake of public opinion are not motivated by any desire for a better society.

Once people of faith are dispatched, it is likely they will come up with another group or view that they find offensive.  By “offensive”, I mean something they simply disagree with and want to shut down debate on.  In the Hon. Mark Latham’s inaugural speech, which I  congratulated him on, he made it clear that even someone who is agnostic should be concerned about the choking effect of political correctness.  Nobody is perfect but if we cannot talk and exchange frank views, even on religious topics, then we destroy the very thing that has made our civilisation dynamic.  I am of course referring to freedom of thought and the ability to express it in the public square.

Ironically, while those who disagree with me about this may preach tolerance, it is they who should display a little more tolerance themselves.  Recently I spoke to a professor at the University of Notre Dame here in Sydney.  He made very clear to me his concerns about the effect that an absence of law guaranteeing religious freedom may have on his ability to teach at the university.  Universities should be places where ideas can be most freely discussed and debated.  This freedom becomes especially valuable to people who work and teach at universities, at Christian colleges and at Christian schools that have a religious charter or objectives.

I feel it is almost ridiculous to have to say this, it seems too obvious, but if we do not pass some form of legislative protection for religious liberty then I fear that what many take for granted now will come under increasing threat.  Christians have suffered persecution for centuries.  Even today Christians are the most repressed, persecuted religious group in the world, whether it is in North Africa, the Middle East or parts of Asia.  I commend Almighty God to provide that protection for us.

Source: Parliamentary Speech by Rev Fred Nile in NSW Parliament

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By Australian Newsletter

Why does religious freedom matter. I think, from a Christian perspective.  I want to quote a verse of scripture which I often refer to when I write.  It is the prayer of Paul that is written in 1 Timothy 2. Paul says: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and pleasing in the sight of God, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  This passage is very significant because if you read that carefully, Paul is effectively saying to these people, “Pray for religious freedom.”

Sometimes when I travel around I almost hear people praying for persecution which is very foolish.  If persecution comes, we pray that God will lead us through it in His sovereign will, and perhaps use that which is intended for evil for good.  But nobody prays for persecution because the darkness that it brings into society, the destructive nature of it, is evil and wrong.  The Apostle Paul says in these verses we should rather pray that the godly life would be a life of peace and dignity.  What does a godly life mean?  It is a life in which the mandate to be Christ’s witnesses is lived out.

That means the life of following His commands; to be salt and light, to do things in the world out of the power of a converted life, to do good in His name, to use our talents for His glory.  It is a life which contributes to the flourishing of Christ’s church; doing its ministry, preaching the gospel to all nations.  Paul says: ‘pray that’s a life of peace.’  Why?  The text tells us, because “it is good and pleasing in the sight of God.”  But why would that be?  If this paradigm exists in a society, it is a society in which the governing authorities are fulfilling their God-given ministry.  That ministry is stated in the Bible, in Solomon’s famous statement, “righteousness exalts a nation.”

Whether it’s Solomon’s own prayer for wisdom, or Romans 13, or 1 Peter 2, we see that government is sent by God to punish evil and reward good.  Now, if that’s what the government is doing, then those who are doing good and living consistent with truth in society are going to be free.  It also means they are not going to be punished.  They will lead lives of peace.  Meanwhile, those in society who are doing wrong will be punished instead.  The persecutor will not get away with it.  Evil will be rightly suppressed by the effective ministry of the governing authorities.

Source: Blog by Martyn Iles Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby

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By Australian Newsletter

It was the ‘real’ Scott Morrison people saw on the campaign trail, with a capacity for compassion and change, which won him the votes to secure the Coalition’s surprise victory, says Stephen O’Doherty.  Chatting to Katrina Roe about the Federal Election results, the former Liberal politician shared his views saying he believes Morrison took his party to victory “by being himself”.  “People needed to get to know a different side of Scott Morrison than the one they’ve seen in the past,” he said.  “He was the hard-nosed treasurer, he was a fairly hard-nosed immigration minister, and yet what we saw on the election trail was the real Scott.  And he is the real deal.

“He is the family man, he is the person who has a passionate Christian faith, which leads into a life of service, and he genuinely loves his country.  The more they saw Scott Morrison the more they liked him” O’Doherty said.  In his post-election victory speech, Mr Morrison, who attends Sutherland Shire’s Pentecostal ‘Horizon Church’, wished opposition leader Bill Shorten and his family all the best and “God’s blessings”.  Then, in another reference to his faith and the surprise win, he declared that “I have always believed in miracles”.  “I’m standing with the three biggest miracles in my life here tonight, and tonight we’ve been delivered another one,” he added.

The leader’s strong beliefs were no doubt a comfort to many voters concerned about religious freedoms.  But while Scott Morrison is enjoying his moment of popularity, he now has “a thumping great mandate” to fulfil, said O’Doherty.  “He’s got a tremendous amount of goodwill right now, but I would want to see him turn around and take seriously some issues that have been niggling away, that have to be addressed,” Stephen said.  “Climate change and energy policy have to be addressed.  He’s got the opportunity to do it now in a careful way.  He has to do something about the welfare system.  Almost everyone agrees that the Newstart allowance needs to be lifted.

“He needs to find conciliation with our First Nations people.  We have to really listen carefully to what our Aboriginal Elders are telling us.  And I’d love to see them taking a more compassionate view towards foreign aid, and not be divisive around the immigration question.  Yeah, we get the secure borders, but the fact that he got the children out of detention was a necessary precondition to him winning, and I hope he takes a lesson from that.”  Stephen added “He’s capable of doing all that.  That’s the Scott we saw.  Let’s see more of that Scott now that he’s had this thumping victory.”

Source: Hope 103.2

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