Monthly Archives

July 2019


By Australian Newsletter

Federal Minister for Youth and Sport, Richard Colbeck has supported guidelines drawn up by the Human Rights Commission in partnership with Sport Australia and the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, which calls for people to be able to play in the sporting team of their identified sex, rather than their birth sex.  Senator Colbeck said he hoped the new rules would help tens of thousands of sports clubs across the country to be more inclusive and therefore boost the number of people playing sport.  But would being forced to compete with biological males mean females would be less likely to want to participate?

The federal Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) allows a person born male to be excluded from women’s competitions where “strength, stamina or physique of competitors is relevant.”  (Section 42 (1)) The Guidelines refer to this provision but at the same time put strong pressure on sporting bodies and clubs to allow men who identify as women to compete against women.  The Guidelines also warn that it may amount to discrimination to ask for any documentation (e.g., a birth certificate) to show a man identifying as a woman is legally recognised as a woman.

However, this does not apply to sporting activities for children under 12 years (SDA, Section 42 (2) (e) and the Guidelines say they can compete as whatever sex they identify as.  What injuries could be inflicted upon females competing against males who have superior strength and stamina?  How will females fare in sports such as AFL, rugby league, rugby union, water polo, martial arts, wrestling and so on, when competing against males who identify as female?  In vigorous contact sports males can be put in direct physical contact with females in tackles and ball contests which can lead to inadvertent or deliberate sexual contact.  Should females be forced to accept this?

Will the Minister be responsible for any injuries or sexual assaults that result from forced mixed sporting competitions?  The Guidelines say males who identify as females should be able to use the female showers, toilets and change rooms if they so desire.  How can the Minister justify the increased risk of sexual assault by placing boys and girls together in shared toilets, change rooms and showers?  How does the Minister plan to mitigate the risk of sexual assault created by deliberately placing biological males in these intimate, closed female spaces?  Will the minister be held liable for financial damages sought by anyone who has been assaulted in these circumstances?

Source: Australian Family Association

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By Australian Newsletter

Tennis, specifically Billie Jean King and her coterie of admirers, has a looming crisis.  It goes by the name of Margaret Court, hardly a new topic for the haters (mostly US-based) whose desperate attempts to distort history continue at a disturbing rate.  When the 2020 Australian Open rolls around in January, King and her devotees will confront a historical reality at odds with their toxic narrative.  Court will celebrate the 50th anniversary of her magnificent 1970 grand slam sweep.  She will be feted in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York.  As she should be.

Wimbledon hailed Rod Laver recently when the grand slam titan was presented with a replica trophy to mark his 1969 domination of the four biggest tournaments in the world.  Court will get similar recognition next year.  Only three women in history have lifted all four majors in the same season: Steffi Graf and Maureen Connolly are the others.  Neither Graf nor Connolly attracts the same hostility as Court.  King’s abhorrence of Court stems from the Australian’s stance on gay marriage, a position that prompted King to demand Court’s name be removed from the Melbourne Park stadium created in her honour.

If Tennis Australia submits to King’s call to erase Court’s name from Melbourne Park, it will spark a firestorm fiercer than that created by Israel Folau.  King sits at the forefront of the campaign to discredit the validity of Court’s record 24 grand slam singles trophies.  Asked if she thought too much was made of Court’s 24 majors, King replied: “I sure do.  You gotta remember we didn’t play the Australian Open for many, many years, we played the Virginia Slims in San Francisco.  We also played Team Tennis during the French Open.  I think (Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova) would have had a lot more than 24, quite frankly.”

But King and others made their choices.  Connolly, in 1953, took the trouble to travel to Australia.  Court’s achievements were also attacked by a Women’s Tennis Association employee on CNN.  Assessing Serena Williams’s pursuit of Court’s tally, the so-called expert told CNN: “I don’t think it is a record Serena needs, and I don’t think it is a record she should be chasing.  The real record, it was Steffi Graf’s record, which she already broke.  “When Steffi got 22, no one said, ‘Oh, you need two more to get to Margaret’.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

After our strong campaign in Labor dominated Western Sydney, it seems Labor may have learned their lesson: the radical gender agenda doesn’t play well in the suburbs.  The New Daily reported, “Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has told shadow cabinet the Labor Party needs to ‘gut’ the policy platform, citing the need to streamline ‘LGBTIQ’ references to gay rights.  The New Daily has confirmed that Mr Albanese’s preferred approach is to replace LGBTIQ throughout the platform by simply referring to the need to end discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender.”

Albanese has always been a very strong supporter of same sex marriage and other gender related issues.  He is a member of the left faction that pushed for the inclusion of many of the LGBT issues in the first place.  Kirralie Smith, Binary spokeswoman, was delighted with the news saying “Labor’s gender agenda is way too radical for mainstream Australia.  Tax-payer funded LGBT centres, a gender commissioner, banning ‘conversion therapy’, valuing transgender ideology above women’s rights, is all too much.” “Let’s hope that Labor is finally accepting this is not simply a matter of language, but policy.  Voters rejected the radical gender agenda, and so should Labor.”

Source: Binary

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By Australian Newsletter

Some Sydney public school principals are pushing to scrap Special Religious Education (SRE) classes from government high schools as new figures reveal as few as 5% of students at some Sydney high schools are attending scripture lessons.  The NSW Department of Education does not keep centralised data on SRE enrolments, so Fairness in Religions in School (FIRIS) sought enrolment figures at 25 schools across Sydney under Freedom of Information laws.  In some Sydney high schools, as few as 5 per cent of students have enrolled in Special Religious Education.

That snapshot showed enrolments varied, but fewer than one-third of the schools had more than 33 per cent of eligible students enrolled.

The Secondary Principals Council (SPC) has called for SRE to be dropped from high schools, saying the time should be used for teaching and learning, and the NSW Teachers Federation has also previously urged an end to mandatory religious education.  Just 16 students, or 5 per cent of those eligible, signed up to any form of SRE at Arthur Phillip High in Parramatta this year, while only 6 per cent of students at Sydney Secondary College Leichhardt Campus attended SRE classes.

At Marrickville High school, 10% of students are enrolled in SRE, a figure similar to Willoughby Girls High (10%), Sydney Secondary College Balmain (8%) and Burwood Girls’ High (11%).  The schools with high rates of SRE attendance included Rose Bay Secondary College, where 50% of students are enrolled in some form of religious instruction; Castle Hill High, with 84%; and Fairfield High, with 71% enrolled.  The figures showed many students who identified as religious are still opting out of SRE; almost three-quarters of students at Cherrybrook Technology High identify with a religion, but only 35% are enrolled in SRE.  At The Ponds High School, two-thirds of students say they identify with some kind of religion, but only 21% signed up to SRE.

When students do not participate in SRE lessons, which involve between 30 and 60 minutes per week, they do “alternative meaningful activities” such as homework or reading, but are not allowed to learn the curriculum.  Ethics is not offered in NSW high schools.  SPC president Chris Presland said high participation in SRE was the exception rather than the rule.  “Those lower figures would be the norm for most secondary schools,” he said. “We believe public schools should be free and secular.  We see religious education as a parental responsibility not a school responsibility.”

But a spokesman for Christian SRE, Murray Norman, said some schools reported an overwhelming response to SRE, while others had a lower response. “That’s quite normal, just as some schools have a high percentage enjoying sport and others don’t,” he said.  “In some schools close to 100 per cent of students attend SRE classes because their parents have exercised their right to choose a values-based education for their child at that school.”  Religious Instruction is also coming under pressure in Queensland, where calls to dump it are growing after figures revealed that just a quarter of public school parents wanted their children enrolled in it this year.

But NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the existing system, saying it allows parents to decide whether to enrol their child.  “Last year, the NSW Government changed the enrolment procedure for SRE, making it clearer to parents and carers what SRE and SEE (Special Education in Ethics) options are available at their child’s school,” she said.  “All SRE and SEE options are opt-in.  Religious education classes have been offered in public schools since 1848. Every NSW Government has supported this approach since then.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The West Australian government is poised to introduce euthanasia laws that are more liberal than those operating in Victoria after an expert panel recommended that patients should be eligible for voluntary assisted dying if they have a disease likely to cause death within 12 months.  This contrasts with Victoria where terminally-ill people must have less than six months to live to qualify to end their lives by taking lethal medication.  The 13-member expert panel, chaired by former governor Malcolm McCusker, also recommended that nurse practitioners be able to give permission for a patient to access the scheme in WA.

In Victoria, where new laws recently came into effect, the assessment of a patient’s eligibility can only be made by two doctors.  The WA panel has adopted that safeguard, but recommended that the second assessment can also be done by a qualified nurse practitioner, given the scarcity of doctors in country areas of WA.  Nurse practitioners are senior clinical nurses who have completed additional university studies.  The planned WA scheme would also differ from Victoria, the first VAD (Voluntary Assisted Dying) scheme in the nation, by allowing doctors to raise the subject of euthanasia with their patients.

Victoria prohibits health practitioners from starting a conversation about voluntary assisted dying.  “Many health practitioners are reluctant to discuss end-of-life care with people,” the panel said.  “It is also known that up to 60% of Australians may not have the knowledge or confidence to start discussions about specific treatments or options that have not already been raised by their health practitioner.”  The panel recommended that people who have lived in WA for less than 12 months should be able to access the scheme by making a special application to the State Administrative Tribunal.

In Victoria, a patient must have been a resident in the state for 12 months at the time of making a request for euthanasia.  Mr McCusker said the panel felt a different policy was needed in WA due to its large fly-in fly-out population.  Under the proposed WA scheme, a patient must have decision-making capacities, which would preclude people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.  They must make three requests, two orally and one in writing.  Two adult witnesses to the written application must also prove they will not benefit financially from the person’s death.

A person eligible for assisted dying would self-administer the lethal medication themselves, although a doctor would be able to assist the patient if needed.  Only those whose death is “reasonably foreseeable” within 12 months can apply.  The panel made 31 recommendations for the proposed laws after consultations in 11 metropolitan and regional centres across WA.  Health Minister Roger Cook said the report would help in the development of legislation that will be introduced into parliament in August.  Dying With Dignity WA president Steve Walker welcomed the report.  The Australian Medical Association, which opposes euthanasia has not commented.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

In an bid to thwart a union court challenge to its Western Civilisation course that is due to start next year, the University of Wollongong’s top governing body has intervened to green light the new degree.  The university’s council decided to use its ultimate authority to approve the degree, which is sponsored by the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, independently of the university’s regular processes.  In a statement the university said the decision was intended to remove any uncertainty about whether the Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation would begin in 2020 as planned.

The university called on the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) , which launched NSW Supreme Court action in April this year in an attempt to stop the degree’s rollout, to end its court challenge.  NTEU national president Alison Barnes responded by condemning the council’s decision, saying it was “another example of the university not following its normal processes, at the expense of academic governance”.  She said the union would consider the impact of the university’s move on its legal case and “decide next steps as soon as we are in a position to do so”.

The council said it took its decision under NSW legislation governing the University of Wollongong which says the council has powers to “act in all matters concerning the university”, and to “provide such courses, and confer such degrees … as it thinks fit”.  The NTEU’s court action challenged the decision by University of Wollongong vice-chancellor Paul Wellings, announced in February, to use his fast-track power to speed the formal approval of the Western civilisation degree, meaning that it was not considered and approved in the normal way by the university’s academic senate which represents academics across all faculties of the university.

The NTEU lodged a claim in the NSW Supreme Court to have Professor Wellings’ decision declared invalid and to halt its preparations to offer the degree.  University of Wollongong chancellor Jillian Broadbent said that the council had full respect for the university’s academic process, particularly the role of the academic senate.  “By approving the degree the council has acted in the best interests of the university.  It will enable progress to continue despite any continuing legal challenge to the vice-chancellor’s approval decision,” she said.  “The council remains prepared to continue with its legal defence of the vice-chancellor’s exercise of his delegated authority.”

Ms Barnes said that the NTEU’S case against the University of Wollongong centred on the by-passing of normal academic governance processes which “play a vital role in quality control and are fundamental to ensuring academic integrity and quality”. “The NTEU is again disappointed at UOW’s disregard for its academic staff and the broader university community,” she said.  Ms Broadbent said “I encourage the whole university community to unite in a shared commitment to our objectives of encouraging ‘the advancement, development and application of knowledge informed by free inquiry’ and ‘the provision of courses of study across a range of fields.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act has come into effect after a marathon parliamentary battle and 18 months of meticulous planning by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.  Under the act, terminally ill patients who meet the eligibility criteria will be permitted to access a lethal substance that will allow them to end their lives.  Where patients are unable to self-administer the medication, the substance may be administered by an authorised medical professional.  The law is designed for patients experiencing unbearable pain and suffering at the end of life.  It will give terminally ill patients the choice of ending their lives rather than suffering.

Yet the statistics from overseas jurisdictions tell a more nuanced story. Requests for euthanasia typically come from white patients who want to maintain a sense of control at the end of life, or who feel that life has lost its meaning.  Pain is a secondary consideration, if it is relevant at all.  It is important that legislators in other states and territories are aware of this as they prepare to consider euthanasia bills in their own parliaments.  In the US state of Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal since 1997, about 96% of the patients who have “died from ingesting a lethal medication” were Caucasian.

Data from the Oregon Health Authority also indicates that patients with a college degree or higher are over-represented among patients who have received assisted suicide.  The most common reasons these patients request euthanasia are a loss of autonomy, an inability to engage in activities that make life enjoyable, and a sense of lost dignity.  Similarly, a 2017 study in The New England Journal of Medicine of the implementation of euthanasia legislation in a Canadian hospital stated: “Those who received medical assistance in dying tended to be white and relatively affluent and indicated that loss of autonomy was the primary reason for their request.”

A 2011 Journal of Medical Ethics study of Dutch patients who requested euthanasia stated that feelings of hopelessness and a loss of autonomy were by far the most common factors motivating people requesting assistance in dying. “You lie in bed and none of the normal functions come back,” said one patient in the study. “They will never come back and it will only get worse.” Pain, of course, features in some cases, yet it is a relatively minor consideration.  Data from Oregon suggests that only 26% of patients were motivated to request assistance in suicide due to inadequate pain control.

The image of patients writhing in pain, which bolsters the case put forward by euthanasia supporters, is simply inaccurate.  The typical patient who requests euthanasia is a well-palliated, white patient who feels that life has lost its purpose; or such patients have lost the ability to be the author of the final chapters of their own existence.  What does all this mean?  For a libertarian, not much.  It does not matter why someone wants to end their lives; it only matters that they want to end their lives.  People should have control over their own deaths, regardless of their motivations.  They are in favour of rational suicide, not euthanasia, as such.

For the many in the community who still believe that euthanasia is about pain relief, this data should be a red flag.  The reality is that debate about compassion and inadequate pain control is a distraction.  This is really a debate about how we ought to respond to patients who are in a state of despair.  It’s important that we get our facts straight, as in this particular debate, mistakes can be deadly. The discipline of palliative care “affirms life”, according to the World Health Organization.  Palliative care physicians help patients to explore and come to terms with their physical, emotional, existential and psychological suffering.

They help patients to challenge the assumptions of their own self-perceptions, rather than endorsing their sense of worthlessness and providing them with lethal medication.  An Oxford expert in medical law, Charles Foster, made an observation about this not long ago: Concern about being a burden should not be a criteria for assisted dying.  That ‘being a burden’ is in the minds of so many patients at the end of life is a depressing index of the breakdown of family obligations and expectations in the Western world.  It would have been unthinkable in most cultures and at most historical times.

If indeed euthanasia is primarily a cultural and existential issue rather than a medical issue, this would seem to be an appropriate response.  In providing patients with euthanasia, in contrast, we may inadvertently reinforce the problematic cultural assumptions that lead terminal ill patients to feel that they have lost dignity.  Euthanasia is thought to provide patients with a peaceful exit from this life.  Yet it misses the deeper connection between the affirmation of life and what it means to die a good death.

Source:  An article written by Xavier Symons, Deputy Editor of BioEdge who is doing a PhD in bioethics.

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By Australian Newsletter

In a sign of the deep divisions in the Catholic Church, two cardinals and several bishops have issued a declaration to correct “almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation” they claim is endangering Christians’ spiritual health.  The “Declaration of the truths relating to some of the most common errors in the life of the Church of our time’, recently released, took aim at some of the liberal positions on controversial issues taken by Pope Francis and others.  It was signed by US Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was the Vatican’s principal legal officer for six years, appointed by Pope Benedict, but who was sacked by Francis in 2014.

Other signatories were retired Latvian Cardinal Janis Pujats, and Kazakstan archbishops Tomash Peta and Jan Pawel Lenga and bishop Athanasius Schneider.  The declaration said the church was in a state of “almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation’’ which necessitated their exercising responsibility to speak up: “One has to recognise a widespread lethargy in the exercise of the Magisterium on different levels of the Church’s hierarchy in our days.’’  Many Christians, they said felt “an acute spiritual hunger’’ and a need for “a reaffirmation of truths that are obfuscated, undermined and denied by some of the most dangerous errors of our time.’’

Many people felt abandoned in a kind of existential periphery, a situation that “urgently demands a concrete remedy”.  The Declaration covers dozens of issues, crystallising decades-old debates that have recently come to a head.  It is a comprehensive restatement of centuries of church teaching, upholding, for example that “hell exists” and that people condemned there “for any unrepented mortal sin” are there eternally.  That insistence will be as welcome among some bishops, priests and Catholics as Israel Folau’s tweet on a similar subject was at Rugby Australia.

The Declaration says “homosexual acts” and gender reassignment surgery are “grave sins” and same-sex marriages are contrary to natural and Divine law.  Father Paddy Sykes, chairman of Australia’s National Council of Priests (NCP), said the document “highlighted the  divisions in the church.”  The NCP has 1200 to 1500 paid up members.  The divisions in the church, Fr Sykes said, were clear when the Australian bishops’ conference split 50/50 last year between Brisbane’s archbishop Mark Coleridge and Sydney’s archbishop Anthony Fisher, with Archbishop Coleridge, regarded as the more progressive, appointed president on the grounds of seniority.

Fr Sykes, a parish priest in the NSW country diocese of Wagga, said the new declaration was 100% correct theologically.  It would appeal, he said, to “people whose natural inclination was to have certainty in order to feel safe”.  “Pope Francis recognises that life is not like that and that we need to deal with the fluidity of the life of the world,’’ he said. The pope had “shaken a few cages’’.  But Fr Sykes agreed that Francis was dogmatic on some political subjects, such as climate change. Recently, the pope told energy executives at the Vatican that the world faced a “climate emergency’’ and called for radical action.

Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy chair Fr Scot Armstrong took a different line to Fr Sykes.  He said the cardinals and bishops had produced a “quality, comprehensive’’ document to offer “concrete spiritual help to address the difficulties being experienced as unity in the church is further stretched, and in some cases, even breaking down’’.  It was “a useful reminder that the faith is not our own concoction but received from Christ’’ Fr Armstrong said.  It could not be altered “as a political party might change policies, or a corporation might change its business approach”.

“Pope Francis recently remarked, jokingly, that if some don’t like the faith they can go and found their own church,’’ Fr Armstrong said.  “He was joking, but the point was made.  This document serves to strengthen that point.’’  In the declaration, the cardinals and bishops said abortion was “forbidden by natural and divine law” and euthanasia, which has become lawful in Victoria under tightly controlled conditions, was a “grave violation of the law of God” because it is the “deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person”.  Marriage, they said, was “an indissoluble union of one man and of one woman ordained for the procreation and education of children”.

Referring to the confusion over divorce, remarriage and the reception of Communion generated after Francis’s encyclical Amoris Laetitia and the Vatican’s 2014 and 2015 synods on the family, the signatories insisted it was unacceptable for Catholics who divorced their spouses and entered into subsequent civil unions to receive Communion.  In contrast, many Australian Catholics favour modernisation of church structures and teachings, with calls for married priests, women priests, an end to LGBTIQ discrimination, greater transparency and reform of church governance.  But others advocated a reassertion of tradition and better faith education.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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