Blog Articles

A SEASON OF PRAYER FOR THE FEDERAL ELECTIONS – Week 2

By | Australian Newsletter

WEEK 2 – PRAYING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS IN GOVERNMENT

Day 1 – Monday 22 April
God’s Righteousness  Cry out to God for His righteousness, just nature, and rulership to be established in Australia through the Government we elect, as it is in heaven.
Scriptures:  Psalm 33:5  Psalm 36:6  Psalm 45:7  Psalm 71:19  Psalm 85:13  Psalm 89:14  Psalm 145:17  Jeremiah 9:24  Acts 17:31

Day 2 – Tuesday 23 April
Australia’s Unrighteousness  In the light of His perfect righteousness let us acknowledge our sin and failures as His people to pray for, and represent Him to, our nation.  In repentance and humility let us cry out for His mercy to be extended to ourselves and our nation through the outcome of this election.
Scriptures:  1 Peter 4:17  Daniel 9:4-19  1 John 1:9

Day 3 – Wednesday 24 April
Our Righteousness before God  Let us approach His throne of grace with confidence concerning these elections, to pray that our nation will receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Pray that the Church in Australia will be like Esther and find favour and approval with our King so that He will hear and answer our prayers.  Pray that God would give His Church the prayers of Jesus so that we pray in righteousness, unity, and maturity.
Scriptures:  Corinthians 1:30  Romans 10:10a  Esther 2:17  Esther 7:2  Hebrews 5:13-14

Day 4 – Thursday 25 April
God’s Promise of Righteousness for our Nation  Pray for righteousness to come forth from the Federal elections.  Pray that Australia would be known and respected in the forums of the world as a nation of righteousness and integrity, holding to and doing what is right regardless of internal or external pressures and short term expediency.  Pray for a government we can trust to conduct our affairs righteously in every area of power.
Scriptures:  Proverbs 14:34  Isaiah 26:2,9  Psalm 75:10  Isaiah 28:17  Isaiah 32:17  Malachi 4:2-3  Psalm 125:3

Day 5 – Friday 26 April
Righteousness in the Election Campaign  Let us pray that this election campaign, however strongly contested, will be conducted with righteousness, decency and respect.   Pray His Kingdom come and His will be done in this election.  Pray that He will expose to the eyes of the nation any hidden, ruthless, unscrupulous, unrighteous motives of parties and candidates.  Pray the electors see and take to heart what is right, honourable, just and true and let it prevail in the voting on election day:  Pray that righteousness and truth rather than sensationalism will prevail in all reporting in the media.
Scriptures:  Matthew 6:33  Romans 14:17-18  Amos 5:24  Psalm 85:13  Luke 12:2-3  Philippians 4:8  Psalm 85:13

Day 6 – Saturday 27 April
The Election of Righteous Candidates  In prayer, call forth from each electorate into the Federal Parliament, those who will represent us in righteousness and will be open to the influence of His Holy Spirit.
Scriputres:  Psalm 112:4-10  Isaiah 64:4-5a  1 John 3:7-10  Psalm 34:15  Psalm 37:29

Day 7 – Sunday 28 April
Pray for a Prime Minister and Government that would lead our Nation in Righteousness   Pray in faith for a Prime Minister who will be an instrument of true righteousness in His hands.  Pray for the election of a Government that will be under His authority so that Australia can fulfil in every way the calling He has for us.  Pray that whoever is elected Prime Minister will lead Australia under His Lordship and authority and with His wisdom into paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Scriptures:  Psalm 18:20  Proverbs 14:34  Proverbs 16:7  Proverbs 21:1  Proverbs 25:5  Psalm 11:3  Hosea 10:12  Psalm 85:9-13  Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Print This Post Print This Post

 

HIGH COURT HANDS DOWN JUDGEMENT IN PRO-LIFE CASE

By | Australian Newsletter

The High Court of Australia has handed down its judgement on two very important cases with serious implications for freedom of speech and the pro-life cause.  The court has upheld criminal convictions against Kathy Clubb and Graham Preston.  In doing so, they have confirmed the legality of so-called ‘safe access zones’ outside abortion clinics.  These laws prohibit anyone from communicating within the zone about abortion, in a way that can be seen or heard.  They are designed to stop pro-life counsellors from offering help and alternatives to abortion at the most dangerous moment of an unborn baby’s life.

In 2014 Tasmania made it illegal to express disagreement with abortion within 150m of abortion clinics.  Mr Graham Preston from Queensland was arrested, convicted, and fined $3,000 in Hobart for holding signs within the exclusion zone that read on one side, “Everyone has the right to life, Article 3, Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and on the other side “Every child has the right to life, Article 6, UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child”, along with an enlarged photo of an 8-week-old preborn baby.  Last October Mr Preston’s appeal against his conviction was heard in the High Court of Australia which has now handed down its decision that this exclusion zone law is not unconstitutional so the law will remain in place.

In particular, Kathy Clubb and the ministry she worked with has saved over 300 babies’ lives and supported their mothers, often through difficult circumstances.  When the law shuts down a ministry like this, the law clearly is not working.  As Kathy has said, her ministry is a ministry of mercy to women, and it has yielded incredible fruit.  Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) supporters all over Australia have campaigned for years against the introduction of ‘safe access zones’, standing with Kathy and Graham, praying for them, their families and for the justices of the High Court.

While the court’s decision is profoundly disappointing, it should only strengthen the resolve of supporters to stand up for freedom of speech and the cause of the unborn.  This case is not the end for Kathy and Graham as the matter will now go back to the Supreme Court of Victoria and Tasmania to deal with the rest of their appeals.  There are still substantial legal arguments about the validity of their convictions.  Please continue to uphold Kathy, Graham and our legal system in your prayers.  Could it be a criminal offence to promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a public place in Australia?   Yes it could, based on this judgement.

Mr Preston said, “It is a very sad day for this country.  This decision means that a person can be fined up to $10 000 and/or be jailed for up to 12 months simply for promoting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child in a public place in Australia. “This is not the old Soviet Union where human rights laws were a mockery, this is Australia.  Australia is signatory to both of these documents but now you can be sent to jail for promoting them on a public footpath!  “Every Australian, whatever their views on abortion, should be very concerned about this draconian suppression of free speech that has been upheld.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

Print This Post Print This Post

 

CHRISTIAN RUGBY PLAYER FACES SACK AFTER MEDIA POST ABOUT SIN AND HELL

By | Australian Newsletter

One of the best rugby players in the world is set to have his contract terminated after posting a warning on social media to those who sin.  Israel Folau, who has starred for Australia over the past six years, has often spoken about his Christian faith, regularly sharing Bible verses and messages on Twitter and Instagram.  Last year he received much criticism for telling a follower that God’s plan for homosexual people was hell unless they repent of their sins. His employer, Rugby Australia, had said his comments “did not reflect the views” of the organisation but added: “In his own words, Israel said that he did not intend to upset people intentionally or bring hurt to the game.  We accept Israel’s position.”

His latest post lists a number of different sins including homosexuality and tells followers that “hell awaits”.  Rugby Australia and his club NSW Waratahs have released a statement criticising his comments.  They said they have failed to get hold of Folau over the past 24 hours but now intend to sack him.  They said: “Whilst Israel is entitled to his religious beliefs, the way in which he has expressed these beliefs is inconsistent with the values of the sport.  We want to make it clear that he does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts.  In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.”

Folau has previously defended his comments on the Players Voice website.  In a long article in which he talks about the basics of Christianity, he said: “People’s lives are not for me to judge. Only God can do that. “I have sinned many times in my life.  I take responsibility for those sins and ask for forgiveness through repentance daily.”  Speaking about his views on homosexuality and sin, he went on to say he was unprepared to “compromise my faith in Jesus Christ, which is the cornerstone of every single thing in my life”.

Source: Premier News Service

Print This Post Print This Post

 

UNDERSTANDING THE SHIFT IN OUR CULTURE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR OUR FUTURE

By | Feature Articles

Editors comments:  This article, covering political issues, is usually outside the gammet of the Prayer Network but as it seeks to help us understand the enormous shift that is taking place in our culture, and therefore the implications for our future, we decided it was worth putting out to our readers for prayer as we move towards one of the most crucial Federal Elections in our history.  Any political comments or inferences the writer makes are his and not necessarily those of the Prayer Network.  We are more focused on assisting our readers to understand the why and how of the cultural changes we are experiencing as a Nation and how they could shape the way people vote in the upcoming Federal Election.  Could it be that this election, more than any other in recent memory, will be fought in the spiritual realm (a battle for the hearts and minds of the Australian people and the soul of our Nation) rather than over political policies.  If it is to be that way, this is where the Prayer Network comes in, and underlies the reason for our re-producing this article. 

Australia is about to chart a new direction but the intriguing question is whether the public is making this choice by default or conviction.  Scott Morrison seems unable to cut through with a message that registers while Bill Shorten seems able to say anything and get away with it.  These are flip sides of the same story, an electorate that has clocked off politics yet is angry about its plight.  It is tempting to say the Coalition government has lost the battle of ideas.  But this misleads since beyond a minority of “insiders” there is no engagement with ideas anymore.  There is, however, the zeitgeist, the German view that each historical era is defined by its own spirit and values.

It is the zeitgeist that is bringing down the Morrison government and propelling the nation towards a Shorten government.  The zeitgeist, of course, is not separate from events.  Indeed, it is partly formed by events such as the chronic disunity of the Coalition, its lack of cultural power, its inability to sustain a message that resonates with the public and its failure to offer a persuasive explanation for the times.  The zeitgeist, however, is conceived in culture.  Its meaning transcends and can defy mere rationality, it is about the spirit, the mood of the times.  It can refer to an invisible force, part in the world, part defying the world because of its cultural power.

In Australia today the zeitgeist is tied to the age of disruption and confusion.  In particular, received wisdoms that have offered stability and predictability are in demise, some because they have failed, others because they are ideologically unfashionable.  Labor has far exceeded the Coalition in capturing the zeitgeist.  Its unifying theme is the turn of Australia towards a progressive mindset in economic, social and cultural terms.  This was not predicted six years ago.  Time will tell whether it is enduring or deceiving.

But the norms the Abbott government subscribed to after it won in 2013 are in eclipse.  These were rejection of radical action on climate change in order to safeguard the economy, using constraints on education and health funding to recover the budget surplus, new laws to curb trade union power, implicit faith in financial system integrity, free speech before an individual’s capacity to be offended, traditional marriage, honouring Western civilisation, American alliance fidelity in what became the Trumpian age and putting shared national values before the quest for race, gender or sexual identity.  Only border protection has survived and it is now under fierce assault.

As the ideas championed by the Coalition government came under assault, so did the government’s authority.  The country shifted while the Coalition held power.  Yet the Coalition missed the trend, its cultural antenna in dysfunction and its ability to persuade badly lacking.

Having a House of Representatives majority did not guarantee control of the nation’s mood.  When old ideas no longer work or are no longer tolerated, it is time for new ideas.  Established understandings have now broken down in a range of areas, consider wages, living standards, climate change, finance, industrial relations and education among others.

As economists, including our Reserve Bank governor, admit the past connection between unemployment levels and wage levels has shifted, much to the consternation of workers and unions.  As the past decade shows the record low interest rates have failed to reboot many Western economies, with monetary policy unable to restore previous levels of economic growth.  The local energy story is diabolical when Australia, a so-called energy superpower, relied on coal as its source of competitiveness only to find that coal was cast as a climate change demon to be put on the exit escalator.

The finance sector, the life blood of household prosperity, was exposed by the royal commission as an agent of greed treating customers as objects of exploitation in pursuit of self-interested financial rewards.  Having spent a generation achieving a more flexible labour market that worked brilliantly in the globalised age contributing to low unemployment, the nation is now lurching into reverse to embrace re-regulation and intervention in the cause of equity.  And in education, having proven that more school funding without a classroom revolution is tied to falling relative standards the political system seems ready to repeat the blunder on a truly massive scale with astonishing proposed increases in school funding devoid of core classroom reforms.

The breakdown of established norms has three consequences, new opportunities (think renewables), new challenges (how on earth to rekindle productivity to salvage living standards) and the revival of truly bad ideas (think the living wage, something we tried more than 110 years ago).  Perhaps there is no failure that does not deserve another try.  Anyone for socialism?  The political impact of the zeitgeist cannot be missed.  There is nothing as vulnerable as an idea targeted by the progressive forces; witness traditional marriage, coal and tax cuts for corporates.  And there is nothing so resilient as a failed idea to which the progressive class is attached; witness open borders, wage rises divorced from productivity and government intervention as a superior allocation mechanism to markets.

Shorten’s skill has been conspicuous.  Acting with audacity, he has picked much of the spirit of the times.  His populist slogans cut through from the “left behind society” to declaring the election to be a referendum on wages and embracing the notion of the “living wage”.  Who could disagree with such an attractive idea?  Shorten has endlessly stirred hostility towards banks and big business, mined the cult of grievance, backed a major redistribution of income through tax, mined community anxiety at inequality and injustice, given identity politics plenty of currency, ditched border protection in the cause of humanitarian rescue of people on Manus and Nauru, helped to demonise coal, worked to sink Adani and cast renewables as the universal saviours.

The zeitgeist is Shorten’s friend and Morrison’s enemy.  The evidence has turned into an avalanche since the August 2018 Liberal leadership crisis.  The latest norm to be violated occurs within the Liberal heartland, the middle-class revolt and disloyalty in the once blue-ribbon seats of its leaders, former leaders and future hopes.  Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth has been lost to progressive independent Kerryn Phelps, with no guarantee it can be regained at the election.  Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah is under serious threat from progressive independent Zali Steggall.  Greg Hunt’s seat of Flinders is under assault from progressive independent Julia Banks and Josh Frydenberg’s seat of Kooyong is threatened by Julian Burnside, a well-known progressive, now running as a Green.

Each of these seats is vulnerable to progressive attack.  This is an unprecedented situation in the history of the Liberal Party.  The loss of support, however, seems to transcend the actual policy story.  It is not as though the Liberals under Malcolm Turnbull ignored climate change.  Turnbull’s removal, rather, has become the symbolic trigger for the release of progressive hostility towards the party.  The mood and the message is that the Liberals are violating the spirit of the age and need to pay the price.  Once this brand is applied it is extremely difficult to purge, a classic example being the Liberal Party’s women problem.

This, however, is not exactly what it seems.  In Julie Bishop’s safe seat of Curtin the Liberals have preselected an impressive woman, the former vice-chancellor of Notre Dame, Celia Hammond, who won convincingly.  Yet Hammond is now under challenge from a progressive independent, a lifelong Liberal voter, wealthy businesswoman Louise Stewart. Stewart says Hammond cannot represent the views of the Curtin electorate and her selection shows the party is “stuck in the past”.  It seems a conservative woman is no better than a man!  The point is that the real priority is progressivism.  A woman will be opposed unless she is progressive, displaying the “correct” stance on climate, feminism and asylum-seekers.

The government still has its April 2 tax-cut budget to rekindle its prospects but cynicism and indifference lie in its path.  The Coalition parties will seek to unite around the budget and take a strong economic message to the election.  But what should be the pivotal election issue is largely overlooked, the productivity and participation agenda to drive living standards.  On wages, Shorten continues with his quasi reckless “dual identity” tactics, prompted no doubt by the fact that emotion and populism largely run these debates.  On the one hand Shorten feeds the public truckloads of populism that “supply and demand” in the labour market no longer functions, that “everything is going up except people’s wages” (a falsehood), that the minimum wage should be a living wage and that the “fat cat” bosses who claim a connection between wages and jobs are wrong because “I don’t accept that a living wage causes unemployment”.

There is no reason to think Shorten, given the zeitgeist, will suffer any penalty from his pitch.  Meanwhile the ACTU, the chief advocate of the “living wage”, proposes an increase in the minimum wage of 11.5 per cent over the next two years or more than $70 a week at a time when the economy is weakening.  The idea this would not hurt jobs is absurd.  “I won’t turn my back on the workers of Australia,” Shorten declared as he asserted the government would fix the wages problem, a throwback to several decades ago.

On the other hand Shorten said he would rely on the Fair Work Commission to adjust the minimum wage (sticking by the orthodoxy), declared the Fair Work Commission (FWC) had a “great track record” (if so, then what’s the problem?), refused to nominate any percentage increase (being sensible and not backing the ACTU numbers), raised the prospect Labor would change the legislation governing the FWC minimum wage deliberations (but wouldn’t give details) and made clear the guidelines would be altered.

In summary, Shorten raises expectations sky high with his rhetoric but then brings them back to earth because he doesn’t want to wreck the joint.  This is his standard tactic.  He plays to the zeitgeist and then plays to reality.  He feeds the union and Labor interest groups loads of red meat but then stops short of table commitments that would ruin his government in office.

It is a risky contradiction that runs across almost everything Shorten touches.  If he wins, how Shorten will pacify the progressive interest groups, wind down their expectations yet implement the litany of specific tax, spending, regulatory, climate change and constitutional reforms he pledges, is anybody’s guess.

This week the Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott played the reality card on Labor’s 45-50% targets for emissions and renewables: “We don’t have a plan to do this.  How are we going to do this?  If it’s economy wide, what is the mechanism by which we are going to do it?  Is it a cap and trade system?  Is it the national energy guarantee?  Is it a base-loading credit system?  Are we going to exempt the trade-exposed sector?  Are we going to allow the ‘carry over’ for Kyoto?  I think the Australian people are entitled to understand how these things will be achieved.

This is the history of this problem, people say stuff, then they try to implement it and everyone goes ‘oh, hang on, we didn’t actually mean for those jobs to be gone’,  now we’ll have to have a compensation scheme.  Then we stop and then we go backwards and then we make no progress.  This is the history. ” Yet nothing Westacott said, policy realities that must be faced by any Shorten government, impinge on the current climate change mantras that dominate our public debate.  Just listen to the independent progressives crusading on climate change in leafy Liberal seats to grasp how much this debate has regressed over the past 15 years.

They talk endlessly about saving the planet and the urgency for Australia to do more, as though the policy and political obstacles of the past 15 years never happened.  Such climate change invocations are firmly within the zeitgeist but there comes a time when the spirit of the age and the reality of the age come to their inevitable day of reckoning.  This raises the question: is the country choosing its change of direction or merely getting ready to vote out a government that misread the culture?

Source:  Paul Kelly, Editor at large for the Australian Newspaper

Print This Post Print This Post

 

UNI STUDENTS TOLD ANZACS WERE KILLERS AND BRITISH ARRIVAL WAS AN INVASION

By | Australian Newsletter

Students at Murdoch University are being taught that the Anzacs who fought at Gallipoli were “killers”, that the British arrival in Australia in 1788 was an “invasion”, and that asylum-seekers on Manus Island and Nauru are “prisoners”.  A lecturer in Australian history at Murdoch, Dean Aszkie­lowicz, told School of Arts students that many of the young people who attend annual Anzac Day services in Gallipoli were “drunk”.  In an audio recording obtained by The Australian newspaper, he also described Anzac Day as a “cliche” that would diminish in popularity.

When asked by a student whether he thought the Anzacs should be viewed as murderers, Dr Aszkielowicz said: “If you kill people, whether it’s overseas or not, then you’re a killer.  “I don’t see why that isn’t a viewpoint that shouldn’t sit alongside the other version of how we look at the Anzacs.” In a separate lecture English and creative arts lecturer Anne Surma blamed the government, right-wing media and shock jocks for peddling misinformation about refugees and asylum-seekers. Murdoch University is standing by its academics amid allegations of left-wing bias in their teaching, and criticisms that the comments about the Anzacs were “insulting” to fallen soldiers.

Dr Aszkielowicz declined to comment further.  Some of the students in the course are concerned about a left-wing bias among academics and that they are being given only one side of the argument about Australian history and culture.  Federal Liberal MP and former SAS commander Andrew Hastie said Australians should be free to question assumptions around Anzac Day but should be careful about attacking or repudiating what it stood for.  “Humanities students would be better off building a home library based on the Western canon, rather than listening to an overpaid radical malign our war dead,” he said. “They’d save money and get a proper education.”

The RSL’s chief executive in Western Australia, John McCourt, said the comments were “insulting to the memories of the men and women who perished in World War I”.  “It’s the job of an academic to be rational and reasoned, and to give students both sides of the argument,” he said.  In his lecture Dr Aszkielowicz told students about Australia’s search for a national identity, tracing this back to the arrival of the British in 1788.  “The British thought of themselves as settlers when they arrived in Australia,” he said.  “But the Aboriginal people saw the arrival as an invasion and that is certainly how the majority of historians, including myself, see it.”

He showed a photo of an Anzac Day ceremony at Gallipoli, saying: “These young people at Anzac Cove, are mostly drunk.” Dr Aszkielowicz said he believed the “surge in Anzac Day nationalism” had made the occasion more popular than ever but he predicted this would wane. “It is fuelled by the military, who dominate the agenda for Anzac Day,” he said. “It is used unashamedly by politicians to further their own causes and it’s embraced by certain sections of the community who still fear outsiders. “Warrior myths of this kind are  going to appeal to certain sections of the community who need to feel togetherness or worth, especially amongst young men.”

Associate Professor Surma spent much of her lecture discussing an acclaimed book by Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani, whom she referred to as being a “prisoner”.  She praised the Kurdish-Iranian journalist for documenting the “torture and inhumane treatment” of detainees.  Associate Professor Surma urged students to read Boochani’s book and to see a film he shot on his smartphone about the plight of asylum-seekers on Manus Island.  She last year spoke at an event at Murdoch held by a lobby group, Academics for Refugees, which wants Australia to end offshore processing, boat turn-backs and mandatory detention.

Murdoch University defended Dr Aszkielowicz and Associate Professor Surma.  The interim pro-vice-chancellor of the College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Sciences, Professor Rikki Kersten, said the institution was passionate about producing graduates who were critical thinkers.  “We actively encourage students to draw on views from across the political and academic spectrum,” she said.  “They might not agree with all the viewpoints expressed, but it is important they understand them and have the tools to form their own views.  “In the context of these lectures, our academics provided challenging comment respectfully, this is academic freedom in action.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

Print This Post Print This Post

 

LABOR PARTY TO COERCE PUBLIC HOSPITALS INTO PERFORMING ABORTIONS

By | Australian Newsletter

Church leaders have come out swinging against a plan by Labor to force abortion on public hospitals by tying the issue to funding.  The Federal Government provides a large amount of money to the states for health.  The ALP has announced that it will hold this money hostage by making the performance of abortion a condition in funding agreements. Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies said that the policy obscured the rights of the unborn. “We need to care for and support women who fall pregnant and do not wish to keep their child for whatever reason.  But we must do that without jeopardising the life of the child,” said Archbishop Davies.

“A pregnancy is a life given by God.  A pregnancy that is unwanted represents not a health problem but a responsibility for the whole society.  Mandating public funds to end the lives of unborn children is unjustified and simply wrong,” he added.  “We need policies which support the lives of children so as to enrich our society.” The Presbyterian Church of Australia has likewise condemned the move.   Moderator-General Rev John P Wilson said that when it comes to abortion there’s a massive blind-spot in Western culture.  “With some passion, we save whales from slaughter and birds from extinction, yet we kill babies by the tens of thousands,” said Rev Wilson.

“Tanya Plibersek’s announcement on behalf of the ALP would bring Australia deeper into shame by offering free abortions and making them more readily available.  The rights of the unborn are diminished in this proposal,” Wilson said. “The Presbyterian Church of Australia affirms that the right to life extends to the unborn, because all of human life is sacred in the eyes of God and is a gift of God from the moment of conception.”

Source: Family Voice Australia

Print This Post Print This Post

 

VICTORIAN PARLIAMENT TO CONSIDER AXING LORD’S PRAYER

By | Australian Newsletter

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says a “multi-faith moment at the beginning of the parliamentary day” may offer a better reflection of modern, multicultural Victoria than the Lord’s Prayer, backing a move by his Special Minister of State to consider scrapping the century-old tradition or add prayers from other faiths alongside it.  Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings has referred the matter to an upper house committee of review, following calls from Reason Party leader Fiona Patten and the Greens to end a tradition Coalition MPs have defended as an important part of our Judaeo-Christian heritage and the Westminster system.

“There’s a proposal to have a look at whether a number of different prayers from different faith traditions might be a more appropriate way to begin the parliamentary day,” the Premier, who is a practising Catholic, said.  “If that was something that had bipartisan support or support across the political divide, then we’d be happy to look at that, but it should be done in a respectful way.  “I think that some traditions are worth valuing.  At the same time though, we do live in a multi-faith community.  “If it were a multi-faith moment at the beginning of the parliamentary day, perhaps that would be more reflective of what modern Victoria looks like.”

Ms Patten welcomed the move as a “major step forward” for those who wished to see further separation of church and state in parliament and recognition of Victoria’s 153 religions.  “It’s high time we found an alternative, such as moving the acknowledgement of country to the opening of parliament every day,” Ms Patten said.  “Victoria is built on diversity and multiculturalism.  This is a secular society and most religious people I speak to are surprised to find out that this is how we start every day here.  “Removing the Lord’s Prayer is a nod to how diverse the Victorian Parliament is.”

Liberal frontbencher David Davis said he supported the Lord’s Prayer remaining part of the parliamentary standing orders.  “It’s a very important part of our history.  It’s a very important reflection of the Judaeo-Christian tradition that’s very much part of our history, and part of our Westminster parliamentary tradition too,” Mr Davis said.  State parliament has opened each sitting day since 1918 with the prayer, but in recent years has also recited an indigenous acknowledgement of country.  Conservative Liberal MP Bernie Finn has controversially refused to stand for the acknowledgment.

Replacing the prayer with the acknowledgment or silent reflection, as practised in the ACT Legislative Assembly, has been mooted as an option.  The issue last flared in Victoria in 2015 when Greens MPs Ellen Sandell and Sam Hibbins were criticised for entering the chamber once the prayer had finished.  The Lord’s Prayer is recited in federal parliament and every other state and territory parliament except the ACT.  At the federal level, a Senate inquiry last year rejected a Greens-led push to dump the prayer from the start of upper house proceedings.

Victoria has the highest rate (10.6%) of affiliation with a religion other than Christianity, according to 2016 Census data.  Victorian Reason Party leader Fiona Patten said it was “high time” an alternative was found as the Lord’s Prayer conflicts with the separation of church and state and fails to recognise Victoria’s 153 religions.  But Christianity (47.9%) is the most common religion in the state, while 32.1% of Victorians have no religious affiliation.  Sustainable Australia MP Clifford Hayes said he believed a prayer at the beginning of the parliamentary week helped focus MPs attentions on “the greater good”.

“I think there should be some sort of prayer. If they’re going to replace the Lord’s Prayer, which I’m not particularly pushing for, I think we should consider another prayer which should be suitable to all faiths,” Mr Hayes said.  “I don’t think that Parliament is a holy place, but we all come in there concerned about our own matters and think they’re very important, but when we stand and reflect for a minute about society’s needs on a wider basis, I think something like that helps direct our thoughts to the greater good.”  Corrections Minister Ben Carroll said that as a Catholic, he had no problem with the Lord’s Prayer, but was also open to including prayers from other faiths.

“We live in a democracy. I’m in favour of keeping it,” Mr Carroll said. “I’m also open to other religions and whatever the parliament chooses to go with.  “I would certainly support rotating different faith groups.”  Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz, a Maronite Catholic, said she also supported the Lord’s Prayer but was open to introducing additional prayers from other traditions.  “We have one of the most diverse parliaments, and it’s something that I’m extremely proud of, and if we need to share other prayers and recognise other religions or other traditions I’m more than happy to consider that,” Ms Kairouz said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

Print This Post Print This Post