Monthly Archives

June 2021

RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION BILL SET FOR SECOND COMING THIS YEAR

By Australian Newsletter

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash is to bring a major rewrite of the contentious Religious Discrimination Bill to parliament by December, sparking new debate over faith-based and gay rights before the next election. Religious leaders are calling for major changes to the Bill, a key 2019 election promise from Scott Morrison, including overriding Victorian bans on gay conversion therapy and broadening the definition of faith-based ­institutions. Both Liberal MPs and faith leaders say Senator Cash’s final Bill will be significantly different to the drafts put out by her predecessor, Christian Porter, before the Bill was shelved during the height of the Covid-19 crisis. But the nation’s leading LGBTQI advocacy group said it would not accept any incursion on the rights of gay, bisexual and transgender Australians.

Senator Cash said the Bill would be put forward before the end of the year, possibly avoiding a clash with a federal election campaign in early 2022. “Our government takes the issue of discrimination against Australians on the grounds of their religious beliefs seriously,” she said. “I am working to progress the Religious Discrimination Bill so that it can be considered by parliament by the end of this year. I am meeting with stakeholders so that all input can be considered.” Religious leaders have been anxious to restart the push for religious discrimination protections during the pandemic when many faith institutions faced strict Covid-19 restrictions. Before the pandemic, there were already concerns that Mr Porter’s draft legislation was too limited and did not have the power to significantly protect faith-based groups.

Victoria’s ban on conversion therapy, a practice designed to turn a gay, bisexual or transgender person straight , has sparked new concerns among religious leaders pushing for a federal religious discrimination Act. Presbyterian Church of Australia moderator-general Peter Barnes said that he wants any federal legislation to have the power to override state discrimination laws. “The Victorian conversion therapy law criminalises Christianity, it affects prayer or counselling” he said. “The draft legislation was useless, but the Victorian situation has really shown its weakness.” The push for a religious discrimination Act was sparked by the 2017 national vote for same-sex marriage and LGBTQI rights groups have warned the government against bringing in any religious-focused legislation that would end up increasing discrimination against gay people.

Equality Australia chief executive Anna Brown said religious people should be protected from discrimination, but called on Senator Cash not to prioritise faith-based institutions over LGBTQI rights. “Our laws should protect us all, equally, but the current draft Religious Discrimination Bill is deeply flawed, containing unprecedented and dangerous provisions that would undermine access to healthcare and inclusive workplaces,” she said.  “Instead of prioritising laws that privilege religious institutions and entrench new forms of discrimination, the new Attorney-General should deliver on the government’s commitment to protect students at religious schools, and wind back outdated exemptions that allow religious institutions to treat people unfairly because of who they are or whom they love.”

Other faith leaders also hope Senator Cash’s restart of the religious discrimination Act process will make changes to the drafts presented by Mr Porter. Executive Council of Australian Jewry chief executive Peter Wertheim said the government had to use the reset to broaden the Bill’s definitions of faith-based institutions to cover a wider base than places of worship and schools. “Given the broad range of criticisms of the two previous exposure drafts of the Bill, the government would be wise to consider a fresh approach,” he said. Some faith community leaders like Mr Wertheim want the federal government to base its legislation on the work done by a NSW Legislative Council committee, which examined the religious freedoms Bill authored by state One Nation leader Mark Latham.

The NSW Bill, which the committee backed as a “useful template” for a state religious freedoms law with amendments, would give individuals greater protection against being sacked for religious statements made in a personal capacity, and safeguard religious not-for-profit organisations. Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli is due to meet with Senator Cash, government MPs and members of the Labor Party to discuss a religious discrimination Act.  He said there was room to move on improving the draft legislation. NSW senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who works closely with faith communities, said the draft legislation could not work as a final Bill. “The current bill falls far short of adequately protecting religious freedom. It reinforces my view that no bill is better than a flawed bill,” she said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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UNIVERSITIES SUBMIT 4000 FOREIGN DEALS FOR SCRUTINY AND POSSIBLE CANCELLATION

By Australian Newsletter

More than 6000 university deals with foreign powers are being scrutinised by Foreign Minister Marise Payne, as she considers vetoing any contrary to the national interest. The Group of Eight universities alone have submitted more than 4000 foreign deals, including agreements to operate China-linked Confucius Institutes, as the university sector seeks to re-engage with the Morrison government over national security. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) was also notified of more than 2000 foreign arrangements from the nation’s 30 other higher education institutions. DFAT will now comb through the university sector’s arrangements and memorandums of understanding with foreign entities before Senator Payne makes a determination to cancel any of them, as she did in April with the Victorian government’s Belt and Road deal with Beijing.

“I recognise the work universities have put into the (Foreign Arrangements) Scheme and appreciate their engagement,” Senator Payne said. “Universities themselves now have full visibility of their international activity across their various faculties. This will result in improved governance and due diligence of their foreign agreements.” The mass collation of foreign deals comes after more than 2000 pieces of written correspondence and 100 meetings and briefings from DFAT for states, local councils and universities. Group of 8 chief executive Vicki Thomson said attempts to meet the deadline set by the Foreign Relations Act was a major task for the eight Universities, which include the University of Sydney and University of Melbourne, and more deals would need to be submitted.

“This process has been a huge logistic and administrative exercise putting hundreds of thousands of person-to-person ‘agreements’ and other minor arrangements in the frame,” she said. “There is, however, more to be done as some universities were required to review as many as 75 agreements for every one agreement lodged with the scheme.” The Foreign Relations Act, which orders states, local councils and universities to submit all overseas deals to the Foreign Minister, was brought in amid concerns about links between university researchers and the Chinese military. A University of Queensland spokeswoman said they had submitted 587 foreign agreements and 71 prospective deals to DFAT. The University of Melbourne submitted “several hundred” agreements, and the University of WA submitted 180 deals, mostly with Chinese partners.

The Australian National University, Monash University and the University of Sydney also confirmed they had submitted foreign arrangements, but would not give any numerical details. University leaders have been prepared for their on-campus Confucius Institutes to be cancelled by the Foreign Minister. The institutes purport to be Chinese cultural and language study centres but have been linked with Beijing’s attempts to influence foreign universities. The University of Melbourne, University of Sydney, University of Adelaide, UNSW, UWA, and the University of Queensland all have Confucius Institutes, and have submitted their contracts for review. The higher education sector unsuccessfully lobbied to be exempted from the Foreign Relations Act over concerns the law was too broad.

Ms Thomson said some foreign partners had begun to either withdraw or pause deals with Australian universities due to the legislation. “The impact of this legislation has not gone unnoticed by current and potential international partners of Go8 universities,” she said. “A number have withdrawn from agreements, not because of any issues concerning alignment with Australia’s foreign policy, but on the basis of complexity and what they perceive (to be) unwarranted government overreach into the university sector.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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VICTORIA RECORDS HIGHEST LEVEL OF FAMILY VIOLENCE ON RECORD

By Australian Newsletter

Family violence offences in Victoria have reached the highest level on record over the past year to end of March, making up one fifth of all recorded offences. While the total number of offences fell 1.8 per cent to 532,271, as did the recorded offences rate per 100,000 Victorians to 7950.6, family violence-related offences soared 11.3 per cent to 112,432 offences, the highest figure since records began in 1993. The Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) ascribes the increase to a 18.4 per cent spike in breaches of family violence order, up to 53,285 offences, and a climb in the number of family violence-related common assaults, up 5.9 per cent to 16,264 offences. The state’s rate of family incidents grew 8.3 per cent to 1389.1 per 100,000 with 92,999 incidents recorded.

The number of family incidents that resulted in at least one criminal offence increased 6.3% to 46,782 incidents in the last 12 months. CSA Chief Statistician Fiona Dowsley said the number of family violence-related victim reports had continued to increase, while other types of victim reports decreased over the past 12 months.  “This increase in family violence-related victimisation has been seen for the last 3 years, reflecting more than pandemic-related impacts,” she said. Deputy Commissioner Regional Operations Rick Nugent warned the actual scope of family violence in Victoria may be larger still with under-reporting in many communities. One fifth of Victoria’s crime is now family violence related and Deputy Commissioner Nugent said he would love to be able get to the point where he could say victims had total trust to report family violence.

Nugent said “Police had been very proactive during the pandemic in relation to family violence with 415 additional family violence investigators appointed and 31 dedicated family violence teams in place. He said the focus was on reducing family violence-related crimes by holding offenders to account and ensuring victims received the support they needed. Other key statistics include 37,939 fines for breaching the chief health officer’s directions of which around one-quarter have been paid and about 2000 reviewed and withdrawn. Victoria’s lengthy lockdowns also contributed to about 44,000 fewer thefts and about 13,000 fewer burglaries including a 30.9 per cent fall in residential burglaries. In the past year 1500 fewer people were robbed in the street compared to last year, a drop of 37 per cent, and 5500 fewer cars were stolen, a fall of 26 per cent.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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THE JESUS OF HISTORY

By Australian Newsletter

In 2013 Time Magazine did a story about the ‘Most Significant Person in History’ and concluded after a very comprehensive and detailed research program that Jesus was that person. If one googles ‘the most significant person in History’ and searches through the numerous websites claiming this title you will find that Jesus appears more than any other claimant. His life story on film has had more than eight billion views and counting.  The Jesus film has been translated into 1,800 languages. His life story is written in the most read and most published book in history. There have been some five plus billion copies of the Bible distributed in over 340 languages.  And at least one book of the Bible is available in over 2,000 languages. His life story has been translated and recorded and can be heard in some six thousand, five hundred different languages on the 5 fish app.

What do we know about Jesus from texts apart from the Bible? Jesus is mentioned in the writings of both the Jewish historian Josephus “Antiquities of the Jews” (Bk.XVIII.III.3 written about 93 AD) and the theologian Origen, in his book “Contra Celsum” written about 248 AD.  J. Warner Wallace, Author of Cold Case Christianity was a former homicide detective and former atheist.  He used his ‘cold case’ skills to verify the reality of the existence of Jesus. Sir Lionel Luckhoo (1914-1997) is considered one of the greatest lawyers in British history. He’s recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Most Successful Advocate,” with 245 consecutive murder acquittals. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II — twice.

Luckhoo declared: “I humbly add I have spent more than 42 years as a defence trial lawyer appearing in many parts of the world and am still in active practice. I have been fortunate to secure a number of successes in jury trials and I say unequivocally the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt. It is recorded in the Bible that at least 513 people saw Jesus after his resurrection. These recorded eye-witness accounts happened on at least 8 separate occasions.”

The largest volume and most authenticated writings about the teachings of Jesus were recorded by those ‘eyewitnesses’ who actually lived with and were taught by Jesus himself.  The accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as recorded in the Bible have stood the test of time and the sceptics. Millions of followers of Jesus around the world can attest to the value and transformational nature of his teachings. One would draw the conclusion that it would be beneficial if people could be encouraged to examine and explore the teachings of Jesus. Might this not help to address racism and violence in our societies? Consider some other celebrations and events that would demonstrate the impact and the significance of this person Jesus.

  1. Throughout most of the world the usual way to refer to the calendar year was by using the abbreviations BC and AD. BC was shorthand for ‘before Christ’ and AD was shorthand for ‘anno domini – in the year of our Lord (Latin). Despite being unable to establish the exact date of Jesus’ birth, it was and is still used as the fulcrum for the Western way of marking time.
  1. In many countries around the world, the events of Christmas and Easter are celebrated. They came to be celebrated because of the significance of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.
  1. There are many phrases attributable to him, however the best known is the famous ‘Golden Rule’ sometimes articulated as ‘Treat others as you want them to treat you.’ Jesus said it like this ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
  1. In a time and culture that was almost exclusively patriarchal, Jesus did not shy away from expounding the value of the women and children. Would he be the most potent advocate for women and children in history?

Is it any wonder, then, that Christians are the largest religious group in the world?

Information provided by: Graham McDonald Email : graham@diduno.info

For more stories related to our history, heritage and culture go to www.diduno.info

Source: Diduno.info

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SCRIPTURE USED TO JUSTIFY VIOLENCE NEW REPORT FINDS

By Australian Newsletter

Anglicans are more likely to have been in a violent relationship with an intimate partner in their lifetime than the broader Australian community, a new report finds. And Christian teachings were used by some perpetrators of violence to justify their actions, the study, commissioned by the Anglican Church of Australia concludes. The study, the first in Australia to look at intimate partner violence based on faith, found that the prevalence among Anglicans is the same or higher than in the wider community. It reports 22% of Anglicans admit to having been in a violent relationship with a partner, compared to 15% overall. When the actual scope of intimate partner violence, such as threats and coercive control, was explained to the 2000 participants, including 825 people who identified as Anglican, the proportion was higher for both groups.

“In the general population, the prevalence of intimate partner violence overall across their adult lifetime was 38% among those who had ever been in an adult intimate relationship. Among those who identified as Anglican it was 44%” the study found. A qualitative part of the study found Christian scripture was used by some perpetrators to justify their actions. “Participants said perpetrators made claims about Christian teachings and used their power in relation to church structures to control and extend the cycle of abuse,” the report said. “In some cases, participants said their abusive partners used obligations around the sanctity of marriage, the ‘headship’ of the husband, and the imperative to forgive to control them.”

90% of the almost 400 Anglican clergy who took part in the study said misuse of scripture was implicated at least some of the time in cases they knew about, the report said. The two-year study is the first in Australia by any faith-based organisation to interrogate its constituency about the issue. “All Anglicans will feel deep sadness over these results,” Anglican Church of Australia Primate, the Most Reverend Geoffrey Smith said. “But, armed with this data, we can develop a better response to protect those within our church communities from domestic violence.” The Anglican Church Synod commissioned the research in the wake of the 2016 Royal Commission into Family Violence, which concluded faith communities were vital settings for influencing attitudes and providing leadership in relation to family violence.

The church said it had no framework for what it could do without a baseline of understanding about intimate partner violence within church communities, so in 2017 it commissioned the research. Convener of the church’s Family Violence Working Group, the Rev Tracy Lauersen, said the research revealed “a significant intimate partner violence problem within the Australian Anglican Church population”. “This is tragic, it is confronting and it is lamentable,” she said. “Intimate partner violence doesn’t discriminate based on wealth, ethnicity or education, nor religion. “But knowing about it, we can now respond appropriately to prevent and address it.” Rev Lauersen said the church has committed to a 10-point response plan focused on cultural change, education, training and support.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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BILL TO PROTECT ABORTED BABIES BORN ALIVE INTRODUCED TO PARLIAMENT

By Australian Newsletter

A Bill to require medical practitioners to provide a child born alive during a late term abortion with medical care has now been finalised and is set to be introduced into Parliament. A notice of intention to introduce the bill has been lodged by Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen, and seconded by the Member for New England Barnaby Joyce. Mr Christensen said some final additions had been made to his Private Member’s Bill titled Human Rights (Children Born Alive Protection) Act 2021. “The additions to the bill are a new requirement for medical practitioners to report children born alive as a result of abortion within seven days,” Mr Christensen said. “The other change is to underscore the false notion that the bill would require medical practitioners to provide life-saving treatments to non-viable babies.

“It does this by stating that the care provided should be commensurate to the circumstances and could include palliative care.” Mr Christensen said he was “asking my parliamentary colleagues, and our entire community to consider the painful question: ‘what happens to a child born alive during a late term abortion?’ “The truth is that the child is left to die.” The bill remedies the fact Australia is in breach of two international agreements to which it is a signatory: The Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which recognise the right of access to life-saving health care services. “The bill makes it an offence not to provide life-saving treatment punishable with penalties of $400,000 for health practitioners and higher for corporations,” Mr Christensen said. “Health practitioners who breach the law could also be deregistered in Australia.

Source: Office of George Christensen MP

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UPRISING AUSTRALIA

By Australian Newsletter

The Uprising prayer movement is worldwide. Uprising Australia is a united prayer conference organised by youth but with the whole Body of Christ invited to participate. Similar events will be held in different nations across the world. The purpose of this conference is to pray for Australia. It is being held at FCF Life Centre, 111 Eskdale Street, Minchinbury (Western Sydney) from Tuesday June 29 till Friday July 2. For full details including cost and how to register for the Conference go to www.uprisingaustralia.com

Source: Uprising Australia

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FARMERS EYE LONG CAMPAIGN AGAINST MOUSE PLAGUE

By Australian Newsletter

Farmers across inland NSW are bracing for a long battle against the mouse plague with any lull during winter expected to be reversed once spring brings renewed food supplies as crops ripen. Jason McCutcheon, a fourth-generation wheat and cattle farmer from Trangie, in the state’s north-west, said swarms of mice began appearing in February before heavy rains “drowned a heap of them”. “They were absolutely horrendous,” Mr McCutcheon said. “Everywhere’s bad here, as far as the eye can see.” While numbers of the rodents have eased lately, he has had no choice but to lay fresh bait around his shed where he keeps grain for his cattle, and make regular baitings at $5000 each time across his 1000-hectare property.

“They’re still doing lots of damage,” McCutcheon said. “You might kill all the mice on your farm but if your next-door neighbour isn’t doing the same, they will just come through your fence.” While a good frost will help keep them down, the mice are expected to return with renewed menace come the spring when ripening crops provide new food sources. “I’ve got all my mice bait ready to go,” he said. Mr McCutcheon shared the concerns of NSW Farmers about the government’s plans to begin distribution of 10,000 litres of the potent poison bromadiolone if it gets the nod from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. While he might consider using bromadiolone if it is cheaper than the zinc phosphide now in use, the restricted bait “would do more damage to more animals, including birds”.

The pesticides authority is still to decide whether to permit the poison’s use, although even then it might only be approved along property perimeters, limiting its effectiveness since many mice have already set up within farms. In the meantime, Mr McCutcheon and his neighbours are dealing with the gruesome task of disposing of thousands of dead, stinking mouse corpses, which fill their homes with an ongoing stench. “We’ve also lost two air-conditioners, one washing machine, a toaster and a kettle [as mice have chewed into their wiring],” he said. “The insurance doesn’t cover the rodents, unfortunately.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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MPs URGED TO “GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER” OVER GENDER INTERVENTION

By Australian Newsletter

MPs across Australia must “get their act together” to protect more young people from the harms of gender intervention, argues FamilyVoice Australia (FVA). “In response to a growing number of confused children and teenagers receiving puberty suppression or cross sex hormone intervention in various States, FVA is respectfully urging MPs to get their act together and protect young people at risk from the harmful consequences of so-called gender identity treatment,” said FamilyVoice Australia spokesman David d’Lima. Answers to questions recently raised in the West Australian Parliament by Hon Nick Goiran show a rapid increase in the number of confused young people receiving hormonal intervention in response to gender confusion.

“We commend Nick Goiran, but we need many more MPs to speak up and protect young people from life-long damage in the West and beyond,” David d’Lima said. FamilyVoice also has applauded recent concerns raised in the New South Wales Parliament by Hon Fred Nile on the issue of gender intervention. “Questions raised by Rev Nile have confirmed that the NSW Coalition Government supports experimental gender intervention on children that may produce life-long infertility and other irreversible consequences,” David d’Lima said. “MPs who would not want such radical responses to harm their own young kids or grandchildren cannot sit back and allow confusion to somehow justify high risk prescriptions for young people in the mainstream community.

“The way forward is clarity about biology, and the sensitive encouragement of young people who are struggling with gender identity, but not to prescribe dangerous chemical intervention,” he said. “MPs must also put a stop to the propaganda and misinformation about gender that is driving the confusion in the first place.”

Source: FamilyVoice Australia

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NATIONAL WEATHER RELATED PRAYER INITIATIVE

By Australian Newsletter

In last week’s article announcing this initiative we gave the address to which people should write it they wanted to become part of such a network. Unfortunately a wrong email address was inserted into the article for which we apologise. Those wanting to know more about the initiative, or wishing to express an interest in joining it, should email Sam Hays at samhays776@gmail.com

Source: Australian Prayer Network

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