Monthly Archives

November 2019


By Australian Newsletter

Uniting Church ministers who oppose same-sex marriage say they are being “pushed, harassed and bullied” out of the church by progressives at the helm of Australia’s third-largest denomination.  The Reverend Lu Senituli, minister of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations of the Uniting Church Sunnybank on Brisbane’s south side, said a fissure in the church was widening between large conservative congregations such as his mostly Tongan church, and inner-city churches and leadership “who want to drive us out to make way for the new church”.

Mr Senituli said the issue had come to a head since the “yes” vote in the national plebiscite on same-sex marriage.  “They are using church procedures and withholding of funding and all sorts of tactics to get us to toe the line,” he said.  “I have people sitting in my congregation taking notes so they can report on me to the church and have disciplinary measures enacted against me.”  However, the Uniting Church says ministers have freedom to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages and can continue to teach their belief that marriage may only be between a man and a woman.

Mr Senituli’s church is a member of a breakaway body in the Uniting Church established in 2004 called the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, set up for congregations that reject the progressive line on accepting gay clergy and same-sex marriage.  “The church now has two faith statements, or integrities on marriage,” Mr Senituli said.  “One is that marriage is between a man and a woman, as according to holy scripture. But the second integrity is the covenant of love between two persons, regardless of sex.  “In practice it’s impossible to live our faith under these two integrities as they are contradictory.

When a minister makes a statement to a presbytery to say we will not celebrate same-sex marriage, from that point the presbyteries, the regional body, begin to put the pressure on in every way.  “They start turning off the funding tap if you don’t toe the line.  Life becomes extremely difficult.  Regional bodies are working in collusion with liberals in congregations who find orthodox preaching offensive.  “I was removed from the national body on doctrine because my views didn’t represent the diversity of the Uniting Church.  But I represent a thriving church with hundreds of members who hold traditional, scriptural views and my church has six services every Sunday.”

A spokesman for the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly and the Synod of Queensland said ministers and celebrants authorised by the Uniting Church had the freedom to conduct or to refuse to conduct same-gender marriages.  “They can continue to teach their belief that marriage may only be between a man and a woman, and can continue to use a marriage liturgy that reflects that conviction,” the spokesman said.  “At the same time, we expect all our members to respectfully engage with those who may hold different biblical and theological views to their own, and to show respect to LGBTIQ Uniting Church members.

“All parts of the church are accountable to our governance and regulations and when matters of concern arise in particular congregations, the Uniting Church has systems in place to manage those concerns.  “The matters raised are being addressed through appropriate processes, with ongoing consultation with the congregations.  They are un­related to the minister’s or the congregation’s understanding of marriage.”  Mr Senituli’s church adopted its current name, changing its signage from Sunnybank Uniting Church in defiance of church leadership to make clear its opposition to same-sex marriage and as a protest against allegedly being bullied on the issue.

The national chairman of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, Hedley Fihaki, backed Mr Senituli’s claims, saying about 150 of the Uniting Church’s 800 congregations were ACC members.  He said ACC assemblies that had changed signs and logos to distinguish themselves from progressive congregations had received letters warning them they would no longer be under the protection of the church for issues such as insurance.  “The Uniting Church doesn’t see the dilemma we are in.  You can’t have these two doctrines co­existing together, in our opinion,” Dr Fihaki said.  “The Bible is very clear on this.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

Print This Post Print This Post




By Australian Newsletter

A Sydney RSL club has cancelled a pro-life forum involving NSW Liberal MPs, citing the need to “protect the club from any potential damage to its brand”.  The North Ryde RSL club canned the inaugural Conservative Q&A Pro-Life Edition function, hosted by the Marsfield Liberal Party branch, over security fears and claims that the club was “non-political”.  Amid a heated clash in NSW over abortion laws and a wider debate over religious freedom, the function, featuring former NSW attorney-general Greg Smith, Life­Choice Australia director Rebecca Gosper and Liberal MPs Lou Amato and Nathaniel Smith, was shifted to an Eastwood parish hall.

Mr Smith, the Wollondilly MP, said he was disappointed the function had been cancelled on the grounds of the RSL club being “non-political”, given clubs regularly hosted political functions.  He said it was a concern that some pubs and clubs were attempting to censor the right of citizens, as was seen during the marriage equality debate, to host private functions.  “I am absolutely disgusted that an RSL club, a place whose members fought overseas to defend our right to freedom of speech and religion would do this. It is outrageous,” Mr Smith said.

“Parents and grandparents have fought for the freedoms we now enjoy.  For an RSL club to restrict freedom of speech is against the principles of what our veterans fought for.”  The Club said it had been alerted “through a phone call” that the topic of discussion for the event would include the “NSW abortion bill”.  “Certain political and advocacy groups are not permitted to host events at North Ryde RSL in an effort to protect the club from any potential damage to its brand and due to past incidents, which threatened the safety and security of attendees and other club patrons,” the email said.  “Based on this, the general manager has decided to cancel your event.”

Ms Gosper said it was “very disappointing” that the RSL club was “refusing to host a pro-life event”.  “Being against late-term abortions is not a marginal view, neither is disagreeing with sex-selective abortions, or women being coerced into abortions and so on.  These are the views of hundreds of thousands of people in NSW,” Ms Gosper said.  “We’ve seen this expressed in public rallies and in letters to politicians and online.  So why is the Club bowing to pressure to limit discussion on an important community issue?  I’m very grateful that a local church is allowing the event to be held in their hall, however this is not a religious issue.  This is a human rights issue.”

Source:  Compiled by APN from media reports

Print This Post Print This Post



By Australian Newsletter

An increasing number of health and law experts are flagging potential issues that will arise with the advancement of transgender ideology. Public hospitals may face “massive damages” for negligence if their transgender clinics fail to fully inform young patients about the risks of treatments such as cross-sex hormones, a prominent legal academic says.  “The red lights are flashing on these issues, and governments and the wider health community need to take responsibility,” said Patrick Parkinson, Queensland University’s dean of law.  According to the “affirmation” model used by Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital, children are “experts” on trans identity.

Parkinson said it was unclear whether the law required clinicians to go along with the “affirmation approach”, even if believing it was not in the young person’s best interests.  Academic Damien Riggs suggests hospitals may have to sidestep sceptical parents by taking court action to authorise treatment of trans-identifying children with puberty blocker drugs.  He has even advised pro-affirmation clinicians to consider alerting authorities to child “neglect” if other clinicians or family members take a “less than affirming” approach to a young person identifying as trans.

Kirralie Smith, Binary spokeswoman, encouraged government to investigate.  “Children are too young to make major life decisions and yet they are being offered treatments that could be extremely harmful to their development.  Far worse than hospitals facing being sued is the fact that irreversible harm may be done to these kids.”  “It is alarming that academics like Damien Riggs would suggest undermining parental authority by suggesting children ‘sidestep sceptical parents by taking court action’ and labelling caution as child neglect.  The government must ensure this is adequately investigated without prejudice,” Smith said.

Source: Binary

Print This Post Print This Post



By Feature Articles

(Editor’s note: This article is published to stimulate interest and prayer for a humanitarian situation that appears to be somewhat out of control in our nation yet not widely understood by the general public.  It is not a political statement on our part but an attempt to expose slavery like exploitation within Australian society.  Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the situation and of the personal actions of those seeking work in our country without entering through our immigration program, God cannot bless our country when we treat people in such a way.  We must pray that a solution can be found that is honouring to both God and man and in the interests of all Australians.)

Imagine, for a moment, being a woman who comes to Australia on the promise of having a job as a cook and a visa for a new life.  Then imagine being told to work without pay for six months.  Then being told to pay tens of thousands of dollars for that visa.  Then being fired when you refuse to pay.  That is one example of the exploitation going on in this country against migrant workers who arrive with dreams and end up in chains.  While the cook had a “temporary skill shortage” visa, she was totally exposed to the restaurant owner who treated her like an indentured labourer.  Once she refused to pay, she had only 60 days to find a new sponsor.

Now imagine a worker without a visa.  She signed up to a scam overseas, let’s say Malaysia, and applied for asylum as soon as she landed in Sydney.  Her claim will take two years to be decided.  She works illegally and will be dependent on her “sponsors” for everything.  “The conditions are shocking,” says Matthew Kunkel of the Migrant Workers Centre in Melbourne. “It’s not hyperbolic to say the conditions for some of these workers in Australia are like slavery.”  Kunkel represents workers who are cheated by employers because they are vulnerable, such as students from Colombia or labourers from Vanuatu.  Some of these cases make headlines, but many claims are only lodged when these legal workers are at the end of their stay and have nothing to lose.

Nobody will ever hear of the illegal workers.  They have no status. They lodge no claims.  Their exploitation is invisible.  The problem is obvious for those who care to look.  The number of people arriving by air and claiming asylum reached 95,000 over the past five years.  About 65 people are still arriving every day.  Some are genuine refugees.  Most are not. About 90 per cent have their claims rejected.  Once their claims go through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, they wait two years on average before they go home.  They used to wait one year, but the longer the delay the greater the incentive to seek illegal work.

Since the start of July, about 80 people a day have claimed asylum after landing at an Australian airport, revealing a shift in people smuggling operations. It is easy to stoke fears about foreign workers or anxiety about asylum seekers.  That is not what this article is about.  What, after all, is the threat?  The exploitation of workers, legal and illegal, keeps prices down.  And there are no boats.  It is easy to turn a blind eye to this sort of problem.  Yet these exploited workers are all around us.  We don’t move without them keeping our cities working.  We don’t eat without them getting food to our plates.  The Australian economy is now built on an entire strata of the workforce made up of cheap labour from overseas.

More than 95,000 people have claimed asylum after arriving by plane in the past five years.  The Australian ideal is to build a nation with migrants who enter the workforce and have a pathway to permanent residency and citizenship.  When that ideal works, it makes Australia the best country in the world.  But what if it fails?  What if Australian society actually depends on illegal workers who have no pathway to citizenship and are only here until their luck runs out?  They are temporary and disposable. No sick pay.

No award rates. No options.

Consider, for example, another cook.  She flew in from the Philippines on a tourist visa and was fooled into thinking she could get a further visa.  Then she fell out with her employer.  She was sleeping in a train station by the time the Migrant Workers Centre came to her aid.

These cases are merely illustrative.  Illegal workers do not seek headlines.

Yet there is no secrecy about the big picture, and where the pressure is coming from.  In the year to June, 57 per cent of the refugee claimants at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal came from Malaysia, while another 15 per cent came from China.  These were followed by Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, India and Pakistan.

As with migration in general, the destinations are Sydney and Melbourne: 37 per cent of the claims are made in NSW and 45 per cent in Victoria.  The source countries have not changed much over recent years.  What has changed is the size of the crowd at the arrivals counter.  It was 8252 a year four years ago and 24,520 last financial year.  This is now a political flashpoint.  Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Immigration Minister David Coleman insist everything is under control.  Labor’s home affairs spokeswoman, Kristina Keneally, calls it a crisis.

Crisis or not, this is a genuine test for the people who are supposed to be in charge.  The Coalition told Australians it had the borders under control, so this is about the everyday business of government. Managing the show.

Running the country.  The government says it is on top of the situation because it rejects applicants who are not genuine refugees.  It does not say how many of those rejected are currently in the community, working perhaps while they appeal.  And it cannot be sure of the abuse some of these workers face.  Can it check every kitchen?  Every nail salon?

These workers are obviously a small proportion of the workforce and a tiny share of the travellers who walk through the airport arrivals halls every year.  Even so, why shrug off the percentage when the arrivals are on track for 24,000 this year?  Coleman is getting the annual rate down slightly, but the year is not over and it is too soon to declare mission accomplished.  The cook mentioned at the beginning of this column is still in Australia.  Kunkel says she is trying to recover some of her wages.  Her future is uncertain but at least she has a visa.  Spare a thought for others who do not.  The underclass may seem invisible, but it’s there.

Source: David Crowe Chief political correspondent The Australian Newspaper

Print This Post Print This Post



By Australian Newsletter

Hobart is considering installing permanent signs in all public lavatories endorsing the right of transgender people to use men’s or women’s toilets.  Temporary signs have already been backed by the Hobart City Council, but their implementation has stalled amid attempts to “deplatform” a women’s group from the consultation process.  Advocates are pushing ahead with a more ambitious plan for permanent signs in all 102 toilets in the city, despite council officers recommending against it and finding it would cost $2550.  Transgender advocates hail the moves as an attempt to change attitudes and improve safety for the “gender diverse”.

However, some women’s rights campaigners warn it could undermine the safety of women and girls and end their right to ­female-only conveniences.  Non-binary councillor Holly Ewin said she still hoped to achieve permanent signage, with temporary rotating posters as an interim measure.  “This is about positive reinforcement and breaking down stigmas around trans bodies,” Ewin said.  “Trans people are among the highest percentage of people who are most likely to get assaulted, particularly in bathrooms.  “A lot of friends and family, and myself, have been assaulted in public spaces and public bathrooms.”

The council has been divided over which groups to consult on the design of the signs, with trans groups opposing the inclusion of feminist group Women Speak Tasmania.  Ewin has circulated a suggested sign, which urges anyone who thinks “the wrong person is using this bathroom” to “respect their privacy”, “respect their identity”, and “carry on with your day”, but to call security “if you feel unsafe”.  Women Speak Tasmania spokeswoman Bronwyn Williams said the group was concerned that women and girls could be confronted in toilets by biological males.  “We are in no way saying that all transgender women are sexual predators,” Miss Williams said.

“What we are saying is that women have no way of knowing if a man is a sexual predator or not.  If I had daughters, I wouldn’t be letting them go in by themselves if this sort of policy was in place and there is a sign saying ‘if you see a man, just accept that he’s a woman and respect his identity’.”  Ewin’s partner, Hera Direen, who describes herself as “transfem, non-binary”, said such concerns were misplaced and made offensive assumptions. “Trans people are suffering abuse no matter which bathroom they are going into,” she said. “There is this idea that we are going to assault someone. If we are in the ‘wrong’ bathroom, we get abused.

“When we go into the bathroom that aligns to our sexual organs, rather than to our gender, there are usually people in those bathrooms that are abusers. “People have been attacked or raped in the bathroom that they are ‘supposed’ to be using.” Parks and Recreation committee chair Jeff Briscoe said he did not want to see the council “caught in a battle” over the issue. He personally favoured continuing to provide separate male and female toilets, while mandating that all new facilities include unisex options. It was hoped the committee, and then the full council, would make a final decision soon, he said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

Print This Post Print This Post



By Australian Newsletter

Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher has warned activist-backed legal cases launched against religious schools “threaten the very future of faith-based education in this country”.  Archbishop Fisher, one of the most senior clerics in the nation, declared the ability of Christian schools to teach according to their faith should not be “defended in costly actions instigated by activist groups in tribunals, and courts”.  The chair of the Bishops’ Commission for Catholic Education also attacked the Coalition and Labor over their failure to swiftly implement religious protections following the legalisation of same-sex marriage, leaving faith-based institutions at risk of “lawfare”.

Citing revelations about an activist-backed anti-discrimination complaint lodged against Ballarat Christian College, Archbishop Fisher said the case seemed to have been “carefully timed in an attempt to derail current efforts to protect religious freedom in Australia”.  Archbishop Fisher said the Victorian case challenged the right of religious schools to “teach that marriage is between a man and a woman and to require staff to not undermine that teaching”.  “It contests the right of parents to choose schools for their children that accord with their own religious beliefs,’’ he said.  “It undermines the expectation students will be taught by teachers with conviction.’’

Reflecting concerns expressed by Christian school groups across Australia, Archbishop Fisher said those who had campaigned to legalise same-sex marriage had claimed there “would be no negative consequences for those who did not agree”.  “Here we are, less than two years later, and a prominent activist group borne out of the Yes campaign demonstrates this was false,” he said.  “This is sadly true to form: it’s the same style of activism that sought to weaponise state anti-discrimination law against Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous, for distributing pamphlets about Catholic teaching on marriage.”

Archbishop Fisher said Attorney-General Christian Porter must “urgently clarify” if faith-based schools and other institutions would be protected in cases similar to the legal challenge launched against Ballarat Christian College.  He also called out leaders from both major parties for promising Australians of faith during the marriage-postal vote that “religious freedom would be protected before any change to the law was made”.  “They failed to fulfil that promise,’’ Archbishop Fisher said.  “Two years later and religious schools are being subjected to exactly the sort of lawfare they said they feared and our leaders promised would be prevented.

“Even if the government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill is passed it remains unclear whether the Ballarat Christian College would be protected.  And it remains unclear whether other faith-based schools will be able to continue to employ staff who share their mission.” Archbishop Fisher said Mr Porter had engaged in consultation with religious groups, leaders of religious schools and Equality Australia, the activist group supporting the Ballarat Christian College case.  “In light of these discussions, the Attorney-General must urgently clarify if it is intended that faith-based schools and other institutions will be protected in such cases under any proposed legislation,” he said.

Former Ballarat Christian College teacher Rachel Colvin has lodged a claim with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal claiming she was discriminated against over her political and religious beliefs in support of same-sex marriage.  Ms Colvin‘s case, backed by Equality Australia, centres on her claims she was forced to quit after refusing to adhere to the Ballarat Christian College policy on same-sex marriage.  The school’s enterprise agreement lodged with the Fair Work Commission in 2017 includes a clause which states “all employees are expected by the college to possess and maintain a firm belief consistent with the Statement of Faith of the college”.

The teacher, who notified the school of her objections to the statement in a letter on August 14 last year, met college officials who indicated she was free to hold her personal views but was required to support and teach in accordance with the beliefs of the institution.  Ms Colvin allegedly was unwilling to do so.  Australian Association of Christian Schools executive officer Alithea Westerman said if federal exemptions were not “certain to provide protection” it would be difficult to deal with the issue.  “Unless political will and legislative creativity is brought to bear we are concerned that school communities will be targeted by activists with an unhealthy obsession,” she said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

Print This Post Print This Post



By Australian Newsletter

Scott Morrison has blasted sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau’s “appallingly insensitive” sermon after he claimed the catastrophic bushfires in NSW and Queensland last week killing six, was God’s punishment for legalising abortion and same-sex marriage.  Speaking to reporters, the Prime Minister, also a practicing Christian, said Folau’s comments were not representative of the religious community.  “The thoughts and prayers of Christians, are very much with those who are suffering under the terrible burden of fire,” Mr Morrison said.  “I thought these were appallingly insensitive comments.  If people don’t have something helpful to say, can you just keep it to yourself.”

One of Folau’s closest allies, Alan Jones, also attacked the former rugby star, who had his Rugby Australia contract terminated over homophobic social media posts.  Jones told listeners to his 2GB program that Folau needs to “button up.  Israel is a lovely human being, I know him well.  But Israel, button up,” Jones said.  “These comments don’t help.”  Folau said the timing of the bushfires was not a “coincidence” while delivering a sermon at his church in Sydney.  “The law and ordinances of these things have changed,” he said.  “Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time.  Is that a coincidence or not?

“They have changed that law and legalised same-sex marriage and now those things are OK in society, going against the laws of what God says.  Abortion, it is OK now to murder and kill infants, unborn children, and they think that to be OK.”  Folau told fellow worshippers at the Kenthurst church the drought and bushfires were God’s way of telling Australia “You need to repent” and that they were only a taste of what God’s punishment could be.  Labor leader Anthony Albanese described Folau’s comments as “pretty reprehensible.”  “I think most people when they think of God or spirituality, they think of something positive and they think of a loving god,” Mr Albanese told Sky News.

“They don’t think religion or faith in those terms and his comments are pretty reprehensible frankly” Albanese said.  Mr Albanese said that in the context of six people losing their lives and hundreds of homes being destroyed in the blaze, Folau’s input didn’t bring anything “constructive” to the discussion.  Greens leader Richard Di Natale said Folau’s sermon was diverting important attention from the climate crisis.  “Israel Folau’s comments were obviously hurtful and absurd,” Senator Di Natale said.  “But giving oxygen to this outburst is a convenient distraction from the real problem behind the fires, our climate crisis fuelled by the burning of coal, oil and gas.

”Trying to distract people by focusing on controversial commentary by former footie players only delays action to reduce carbon pollution, and puts both communities and firefighters at risk” Natalie said.  Nationals backbencher Barnaby Joyce also chastised.  Mr Joyce told Seven News it was pointless to engage with Folau.  “He throws rocks at us so he feels good, we throw rocks back at him so we feel good, but not one of those actions is making a sandwich for a person fighting the fires,” he said.  “Not one of those actions is actually in a fire truck trying to stop these fires.  Israel can concentrate on what he wants to say and I don’t really care and we’ll concentrate on the fire.

Liberal MP Dave Sharma described Folau’s comments as “off the grid”, telling Sky News he disagreed with the sacked rugby star “strongly” and he wouldn’t seek to give him any more publicity.  “I think it’s important we focus really on the bushfires themselves and how we deal with them, how we combat them and how we help communities recover,” Mr Sharma told Sky News.  Folau’s latest sermon comes as Australia is in the grips of an un­precedented bushfire crisis affecting three states, with four people killed in recent weeks.  “What you see out there in the world, it’s only a little taste of what God’s judgment is like,” Folau said.

“The news is saying these bushfires are the worst we’ve ever seen in Australia, they haven’t seen anything.  God is speaking to us.  Speaking to you to repent and to turn away from this.  “We look back to what God has done to Sodom and Gomorrah, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed that city because of the sin that they were living in.”  The rugby star’s Wallabies contract was torn up by Rugby Australia in May after he shared a social media post saying that homosexuals were going to hell unless they repented. The 30-year-old said in October he had no regrets over the Instagram post during a conference hosted by the Australian Christian Lobby.

In his sermon on Sunday, he said same-sex marriage and abortion were “evil in the eyes of God” but were deemed by society as “good”.  “This generation is full of arrogance and full of pride,” he said.  “They want to turn their back on God.  They don’t want to know one bit of who God is because they’re so immersed in their sinful, wicked, evil ways.”  “I knew it was going to be offensive to a lot of people, but ultimately it’s a message of love,” Folau said.  In another sermon in June, he took aim at transgender children, saying the government was letting children, “basically 16 years old or younger”, go through treatment despite “not even knowing what they are doing”.

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has defended Israel Folau and accused the media of attempting to “paraphrase a sermon” which has caused unnecessary angst.  ACL managing director Martyn Iles, said sermons “don’t lend themselves to quick soundbites” and that Churches were also offering practical support to victims and firefighters.  “Churches across Australia are also praying for rain, for repentance, and for God’s plan in people’s lives to be strengthened even through difficulty.”  He defended Folau’s right to speak out, not only on this issue, but on any issue on which he felt strongly.

“Israel did not claim to know that the current bushfires are God’s direct judgement for same-sex marriage.  Nobody knows God’s mind, nor do they understand ultimately why bad things happen” Isles said.  “We do know that the Bible says God is sovereign over everything, and He is ‘our ever-present help in times of trouble”. (Ps 46:1)  A call to turn our minds and hearts to God in challenging days such as these is supported by all Christians,” Mr Iles said.  “Not all Australians will resonate with these beliefs, but the many who do shouldn’t be threatened or lose their freedoms.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

Print This Post Print This Post




By Australian Newsletter

Men who identify as women are testing the boundaries in Australia.  A biological male who identifies as female threatened a discrimination action after being subjected to a second interview for admission to a Christian women’s residential rehabilitation program.” Offered a place in their day treatment program, he rejected it.  The chief executive of the women’s centre said: “Women have come to us because they don’t want co-ed living arrangements because they have had so much abuse in their life, usually from a male.  If you were to bring someone who is transgender into the facility, they are sharing bedrooms and bathrooms with these women.

We were going to engage with this person to ask more questions, but before we could get to that point the person became extremely aggressive and immediately said they were going to bring in their lawyer and accused us of being discriminatory.  Attorney-General Christian Porter says the women’s shelter is open to claims made under the Sex Discrimination Act.  “Where a person has been denied access to services because of their gender identity they would have a claim under the Sex Discrimination Act, which would be dealt with under the existing law.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

Print This Post Print This Post



By Australian Newsletter

A bid to amend or repeal Tasmania’s controversial transgender laws is “highly likely” following a shift in the balance of power in the state’s lower house.  The nation-first changes passed in April by Labor and the Greens, with support from Speaker Sue Hickey, allow sex-free birth certificates, gender change by affirmation, and extend hate speech protections to cover “gender expression”.  However, the make-up of the House of Assembly has changed significantly, with former Labor MP Madeleine Ogilvie elected on a recount to replace a retiring Labor MP, declaring she would sit as an independent.

This means the socially conservative Catholic and former ALP Right faction MP, returning to the seat of Clark she lost at the 2018 state election, will have a balance-of-power role, along with Ms Hickey.  Ms Ogilvie is understood to have concerns about aspects of the transgender laws, as well as a history of disagreement with LGTBI activists over gay marriage.  Ms Ogilvie has already been approached by opponents of the transgender laws to enter into talks with the Liberal government on amending and ultimately repealing the legislation.  Liberal Attorney-General Elise Archer indicated the government would welcome the chance to revisit the laws, which were passed by opposition parties and Ms Hickey against the wishes of the government.

“Because of the refusal by Labor and the Greens to consider the legal consequences of their amendments, it is highly likely the parliament will need to fix up problems with the legislation and repeal Labor-Green amendments at a later date,” Ms Archer said.  “Labor and the Greens refused to properly consult with all Tasmanians on what they were proposing.”  Ms Ogilvie, a descendant of two former Labor MPs, including former premier Albert Ogilvie, declined to comment on the issue.  However, she said she would consider all legislation on its merits and stressed the need for adequate consultation.

“I’ll look at every bill as it comes up,” she said, backing the Liberal government to run “full term”. “I’ll analyse it and I’ll make sure it’s properly consulted.  That’s what people want.”  A critic of the transgender laws, feminist group Women Speak Tasmania (WST), said it had already approached Ms Ogilvie on the issue and was confident she would support a legislative rethink.  WST spokeswoman Isla MacGregor said while the make-up of the independent-dominated upper house had not changed, this may occur at elections in May next year.  “We would not have much hope of repeal of the gender laws until next year but it is possible that we will be discussing some amendments before then, specifically the different definitions of sex and gender,” Ms MacGregor said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

Print This Post Print This Post