Australian Newsletter

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By Australian Newsletter

After eight months of waiting, there has been a mostly-positive outcome between Israel Folau and Rugby Australia (RA).  The two parties agreed to settle out of court for an undisclosed sum. Out-of-court settlement is, by definition, a compromise.  As such, there were wins for Israel and for religious freedom. But there were some potential losses as well.  First, it is great that the two parties were able to come to an amicable agreement before the fight got dirty in the courts.  Secondly, it is heartening to see that Rugby Australia apologised to Israel Folau for the hurt they caused him and his wife, Maria.  Thirdly, though we don’t know the amount, Israel was compensated financially.

This sends a message to all Australian employers that discriminating against an employee on the basis of their religious faith will hurt the pocketbook.  But the Israel Folau saga has exposed some concerns about religious freedom in Australia, too.  For one, the outcome for Israel was only as good as it was because of his celebrity profile.  If it were you or me, we might have lost our job without anyone noticing. Indeed, an increasing number of Australians are facing various forms of discrimination like this.  Consider also that despite Rugby Australia’s apology, CEO Raelene Castle went right back to repeating the mantras that she used to unfairly sack Folau in the first place.

“We stick to our values that inclusiveness is absolutely core to the key of rugby,” she said after the settlement.  “Everybody in rugby needs to be included regardless of what their background is.”  Neither she nor anyone at Rugby Australia seems to understand the glaring irony and stark hypocrisy in such pronouncements.  Israel Folau was explicitly excluded for his faith.  Because he believed and paraphrased the Bible, he somehow doesn’t count in the “everybody”.  The reality is that for Rugby Australia and many other bodies that have bought into the new “woke” ideology, tolerance is only extended to those who think exactly the same as them.

Israel is to be commended for how he has carried himself throughout the dramas of 2019.  He possibly conceded more than he should have in the settlement.  The statement he signed said, “Mr Folau wants all Australians to know that he shares RA commitment to inclusiveness and diversity.”  But if RA’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity is what drove them to sack Israel in the first place, should he share that commitment?  Inclusiveness and diversity are good values.  But only if they leave room for people who believe the Bible, too.  This is why we were glad to hear of the government’s plan to write a new draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill for release next year.

The first draft on offer lacked clarity, and what clarity was there seemed to make life harder for Aussies of faith, not easier.  We welcome the government’s new draft, and ask you to join us in praying for those God has appointed to write it.  Events like this can seem haphazard and circumstantial.  But in Daniel 2:21 we read that “God changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others.  He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”  Nothing is outside of God’s care or oversight.  He is the one directing the affairs of mankind, including Australia’s laws that protect us from tyranny.  So please, join with us as we ask God to advance Australia fair.

Source: Canberra Declaration

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By Australian Newsletter

Transgender surgery, such as “facial feminisation” with a price tag of up to $70,000, should be made available in public hospitals and subsidised by Medicare, says a report to Victoria’s government.  A “critically low” supply of trans-skilled surgeons is driving people overseas for costly surgery that sometimes fails and is difficult to repair in Victoria, says the 2018 report feeding into what Premier Daniel Andrews unveiled in April as Australia’s first Trans and Gender Diverse Health Care ­Initiative.  The report cites the “rapid ­increase” of patient demand in Victoria’s gender clinics at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and Monash Health.

It urges more surgical training and says Medicare should recognise that “gender affirming” surgery is not cosmetic but helps a trans person lead “a productive and meaningful life”.  The RCH clinic for children and adolescents, directed by paediatrician Michelle Telfer, offers puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, and once patients turn 17, they are on track for the Monash adult clinic.  But Dr Telfer told ABC News last year that RCH should consider “top surgery”, such as a double mastectomy claimed to make a girl feel more like a boy and reduce suicide risk.

“The evidence that we have from a medical perspective is that it can be really helpful, it’s therapeutic,” she said.  “When you still have prominent breasts, it’s very distressing and actually leads to quite a lot of discrimination, stigma, bullying at school.”  RCH and Health Minister Jenny Mikakos would not comment when asked about any plans for enabling under-18s trans surgery.  Ms Mikakos has said last year’s clinical guidelines issued by Dr Telfer’s RCH team represent “the most stringent safety standards”.  Those standards, also hailed as “the world’s most progressive”, say top surgery is regularly performed overseas where a 16-year-old can consent.

The overseas-led trend has been to ever younger social transition to medical treatment.  In the US, “gender confirmation surgery” for biological females identifying as male rose 346% from 1497 operations in 2016 to 6691 last year, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported.  It gave no age breakdown.  Physician Johanna Olson-Kennedy, the high-profile director of the largest US youth gender clinic, at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, told a conference last year that people under 20 made all kinds of life-altering decisions successfully.  “Here’s the thing about chest surgery, if you want breasts at a later point in your life, you can go and get them,” she said.

Critics of the “child-led” affirmation approach say its pro-trans bias may not serve the welfare of the often troubled teenage girls suddenly going trans and pleading for testosterone.  At RCH, referrals have risen sharply, from three in 2003-07 to 228 last year.  Dr Telfer, who claims “gender is mostly a biological entity”, said people did ask how very young children could know they were trans.  “We have two or three-year-olds who verbalise very clearly how they feel about their gender, and we listen,” Dr Telfer said.  She said research clearly showed that “if you support the child to express themselves and be who they are, their long-term mental health outcomes are very good”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the government was forced to delay plans to introduce religious discrimination laws until 2020 as some religious groups weren’t satisfied with the protections offered under the draft legislation.  “Some groups are saying there are issues that need to be tackled, that’s why we’ll do another round of consultation, but it’s not like we’ve been sitting on our heels,” Senator Canavan said.  Canavan said he understood religious groups needed “greater certainty” on who was exempt from the provisions, but praised Attorney-General Christian Porter, for the “fantastic job he had done in consulting widely with a range of groups”.

“We’ll put out an updated bill with some changes from the previous one and more consultation before we take to the parliament directly.  And then there’ll be a parliamentary inquiry I’d imagine as well.  So there’ll be a lot of time here to try and get this right,” he said.  “At the fundamental level, we’ve got to get this right.  These sort of legislative changes have long standing ramifications over time as courts interpret them, it’s very important that we get that as correct as possible.”  Prime Minister Scott Morrison took to Facebook to announce he was delaying the bill until 2020.

“So, we’re going to take a bit more time to get this right.  We’ll have the draft exposure bill out over the summer to get it in and next year, bring a bill into the parliament to make it law,” Mr Morrison said in video, filmed in front of a Christmas tree.  “There will be some who will try to make this process more difficult or be opportunistic or try to derail it.  They’re not engaging in good faith. I’m engaging in good faith with the Australian people and people of all different beliefs to ensure that we can get this law right.  It’s an important protection for our society in Australia.”

Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher supported the prime minister’s decision to delay the bill for further consideration.  A spokesman for the church said: “The Archbishop of Sydney has said that he is pleased that the government has listened to the concerns of people of faith and welcomes the opportunity for further consultation and looks forward to seeing the second exposure draft very soon.” Attorney-General Christian Porter initially promised the bill would be introduced before Christmas.  Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen described the bill as “friendless”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The father of Aboriginal reconciliation, Pat Dodson, fears that legalised euthanasia will create a barrier to indigenous people getting medical care, deepening the health crisis in remote communities.  The widely respected Labor senator is the first major figure on his side of politics to speak out against voluntary assisted dying, as the ALP-governed states continue to champion the law change.  Senator Dodson says legislation passed in the West Australian lower house lacks indigenous input and could backfire if enacted.  “Fears and suspicions of ‘whitefella’ medicine will only increase, and the capacity to ascertain informed consent will be difficult,” Senator Dodson said.

The state is the second after Victoria to bring forward a government-backed bill for voluntary assisted dying (VAD), while a parliamentary committee in Queensland is well advanced on assessing the case for legislation there.  Liberal governed South Australia is also eyeing reform, two decades after VAD became law in the Northern Territory but was voided by John Howard’s federal government.  “The Northern Territory experience in the 1990s suggests that the mere presence of this legislation may be a barrier to First Nations peoples receiving healthcare,” Senator Dodson writes.

He says supporters of the bill are building their case on an individualist rights agenda.  “Such a perspective emphasises the rights of an individual and ignores the wider influence of such decisions on those around them, families, friends and communities,” he writes.  “Individual choice is an important component of this but it should not be the only factor because other humans are going to be required to live with the consequences of their part in ending the life of another.  “In an increasingly atomised world, we are finding it harder than ever to understand the interconnectedness of our social structures and the political choices that hold them together.”

Asked how a VAD law in his home state of Western Australia would compromise indigenous medical services, Senator Dodson said:  People are very suspicious of the whole health system generally.  If they find it is associated with potentially the capacity to end your life, as much as to save it, I am fearful people will then, despite their need, start to move away.”  Senator Dodson said his thinking on euthanasia bridged his life experience as a one-time Catholic priest, his spirituality as a Yawuru man and the founding role he played in the reconciliation movement.  He agreed it was at odds with progressive sentiment in the ALP.

“I think there are things about my way of thinking that may not necessarily sit squarely with all of my comrades,” the 71-year-old said.  “Then again, we live in democracy, so it’s up for debate.”  Putting forward “another avenue to death” was confronting for First Nations peoples when they lived shorter lives than other Australians, had babies that were more likely to die of preventable diseases and lost too many friends, cousins and siblings to suicide.  “As representatives and legislators, surely we must be focusing our attention to enacting laws that help prolong life and restore the right to enjoy a healthy life,” he said.

Senator Dodson said the WA legislation contained “significant deficiencies” in terms of content and process.  A key provision in the benchmark Victorian law that came into effect in June, banning doctors from raising VAD, had been reversed in an error by Perth’s lawmakers, he insisted.  Asked what was wrong with a doctor broaching assisted dying with a terminally ill patient, he said:  “This is a fine line where the reservoir of knowledge is deemed to be in the professional, when in fact this is about someone else’s life.  This is about an individual having to weigh up and consider whether this is an option they really want to take.

“Now, to instigate that discussion. requires a broader context for First Nations people.  They are not just nuclear families, most of us have extended families and not everyone in those relationships see eye to eye.  It’s about reaching consensus on the way forward that enables communities to stay together, rather than ones that simply decide they are going to allow individuals to make decisions for everyone else. “If it’s then removed off to a doctor without any reference to the community about him initiating discussions with the loved one, then I think that also starts to undermine the trust you place in a medical system to look after your health rather than find ways to end your life.”

The consultation with indigenous communities was not only inadequate but rushed, Senator Dodson said.  “This is a matter that should be done over a period of time, not at one meeting in one community.  That’s not a way to really consult with First Nations people on a complicated issue like this, that is about the sanctity of life itself, not just about an individual’s life,” he said.  His intervention came after recent polling in Western Australia showed that nearly three quarters of those living in regional and remote areas of the state supported improved access to palliative care over voluntary euthanasia.

The research, for the End of Life Choices Working Group backed by palliative care specialists, found that 56% of the 1900 respondents didn’t believe patients should be helped to die without their loved ones being informed, another point of contention in the WA legislation.  The Anglican bishop of North Queensland, Keith Joseph, told a committee of state MPs in August that remote indigenous communities were strongly opposed to VAD, echoing Senator Dodson on its potential to erode trust in the public health system.  The WA bill cleared the Legislative Assembly last month by 44 votes to 12, but the numbers will tighten in the upper house.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Regular use of cannabis doubles the risk of psychotic symptoms including schizophrenia and is closely associated with anxiety disorders, depression and psychosis, says official advice to the Morrison government triggered by the passage of new laws in the ACT.  The briefing paper prepared for Health Minister Greg Hunt reveals extensive links between cannabis use and adverse mental health affects, which have increased as marijuana is decriminalised.  In the 3 page brief the Health Department lists five “key issues” to consider after the ACT Legislative Assembly passed a private member’s bill allowing adults to possess 50gm of cannabis and grow two plants.

The department notes there has been a sizeable body of work analysing the adverse physio­logical and mental health effects of recreational cannabis use, despite marijuana being decriminalised only in a small number of jurisdictions.  It points to research from the US state of Colorado that found daily or near-daily cannabis use was associated with the development of a psychotic disorder.  The review of medical literature also examined Australian research, which concluded that regular cannabis users doubled their risk of experiencing psychotic symptoms, including schizophrenia, and were at an increased risk of screening positively for psychosis.

“The evidence base regarding adverse health effects linked to cannabis use has broadened considerably since the gradual decriminalisation, and in some cases legalisation, of the substance in certain international jurisdictions,” the department says.  “Adverse health outcomes as a result of regular cannabis use are not limited to mental health and psychotic symptoms.”  The department advised that a 2018 Canadian Medical Association Journal report found an overwhelming volume of evidence outlining the biological harm of cannabis use, including brain changes, adverse cognitive outcomes, negative pregnancy outcomes and testicular cancer.

The briefing also says a psycho­active component in cannabis called tetrahydrocannabinol, the main chemical responsible for the drug’s psychological effects, increased by almost 30% throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s.  This was linked to exacerbated symptoms of anxiety, depression and psychotic symptoms in “naive” users and increased psychotic symptoms and dependence in “experienced” users. In Colorado, the first US state to legalise marijuana, emergency department visits due to cannabis increased slightly while the acute effects of THC, including hallucinations, paranoia and delusional beliefs, markedly increased with higher doses.

Government sources said the departmental advice was a “devastating confirmation” of the health and mental health effects of recreational cannabis and urged ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr to explain what health advice he received before supporting the legislation.  The federal government also wanted to know whether the territory government was aware of any studies that contradicted the broad global evidence of real and significant mental health effects from cannabis use.  Mr Hunt said he was “deeply concerned about the very real risks cannabis can pose to physical health and, in particular, to mental health”.

“This is why cannabis is a highly regulated drug,” Hunt said.  “Legalising recreational cannabis is dangerous and medically irresponsible.” A spokeswoman said the ACT government consulted experts on the health impacts that might arise from legalising cannabis and stressed that the laws related to personal cultivation and use of cannabis.  “It does not allow for the sale of cannabis or large-scale commercialisation and development as has been seen elsewhere, particularly in the US,” she said.  Therefore, direct comparisons between the ACT legislation and that of other countries should be treated cautiously, she said.

“The government is not anticipating a significant long-term increase in usage of cannabis in the ACT.  “This is based on examining legalisation and decriminalisation internationally where no clear causal link between the legal status of cannabis and usage patterns was observed” the Government spokeswoman said.  Attorney-General Christian Porter is awaiting a copy of the final version of the ACT bill before deciding whether the federal government should override the territory legislation.  He has warned Canberrans that owning any amount of the drug was an offence under commonwealth law.  The ACT law is due to take effect from January 31.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Over 770 medical professionals have written to all Members of the Western Australian Parliament opposing the latest push to legalise euthanasia in that state.  The letter warned them not to be persuaded by misleading research based on the Victorian state Coroner’s study of just 118 cancer patients.  The medical practitioners state that the Victorian research has been intentionally or recklessly misinterpreted to suggest that euthanasia laws would reduce self-harm and suicide among the terminally ill.  Almost half of the cases in the Victorian report claimed that it was the burden of care, not the illness itself, that was the issue.  Only 14% of the cases received palliative care.

In a press release Rev Hon Fred Nile NSW MLC and leader of the Christian Democratic Party comments: “It is obvious to those who have taken the care to investigate the study that the real issue is the provision of palliative care to those who suffer terminal illness.  Instead of directing resources to where they are needed, state policy setters are choosing to allow the vulnerable to simply die by killing themselves.  This is yet another example of the ‘death creep’ that we see washing over Australia.  The Christian Democratic Party will continue to oppose these draconian, inhuman and barbaric laws.”

Source: Compiled by APN from various sources

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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By Australian Newsletter

Anti-discrimination laws proposed by Victorian upper house MP Fiona Patten have been described as “section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act on steroids” that will turn the state into a “circus for culture wars”, free speech advoc ates say. In an Australian first, Ms Patten wants to broaden the Racial and Religious Tolerance Bill to provide protections for people vilified on the basis of gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics, outlawing actions that are “likely to incite hatred” or “severe ridicule”.  The legislation which is currently before a Committee, is highly likely to pass should the Andrews government vote in favour.

Free speech advocates including the Institute of Public Affairs and Liberal Democrats MP David Limbrick warn of unintended consequences in the legislation, likening it to section 18C of the federal Racial Discrimination Act, which outlaws actions that “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” a person on the basis of their race.  “Just like section 18C, the proposed anti-vilification laws are vaguely worded and contain no objective standard,” said IPA research fellow Morgan Begg.  “Each judge will have their own view on what is ‘likely to incite hatred’ or ‘severe ridicule’.  “This bill not only infringes on the freedom of speech of everyday Victorians … but the media, too.”

Mr Begg said a further amendment to expand the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission’s power to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to compel people to produce documents was “contrary to an individual’s right to silence, and runs contrary to 800 years of established legal protections dating back to the Magna Carta of 1215”.  “Such a power should be strictly limited and should only ever be exercised by a proper court of law,” he said.  “VCAT by their own admission are not a court, and should not exercise court-like powers.”

Mr Limbrick said under Ms Patten’s amendment, “Victorian judges may soon be forced to decide if using the wrong pronoun to describe someone is hate speech, feminists could be jailed for tweeting about men, and the government will have the power to trawl through your internet history”.  Ms Patten said her legislation was intended to extend the protections granted to racial and religious minorities to other groups facing online abuse, citing the cases of Adam Goodes and AFLW star Tayla Harris.  “It’s not right that Adam Goodes, because of his indigenous heritage, is protected … but Tayla Harris … subjected to sexist abuse, is not.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Do parents have the right to be involved if their school-age daughter or son wants to undergo transgender treatment to change their birth sex?  No, not according to material on the Student Wellbeing Hub website hosted by Education Services Australia and funded by the commonwealth Department of Education.  The government-sponsored website states that “the person who understands most about their gender transition or affirmation is the student themselves” and advises schools to consider the student’s wishes before deciding “whether to involve students’ parent(s) or guardian(s)”.

Unsurprisingly the site’s resources are produced by the same people behind the Safe Schools gender fluidity program which disregards parental rights entirely.  If the school considers the student is mature enough and capable of making their own decision, teachers are told “it may be possible to consider a student a mature minor and able to make decisions without parental consent”.  Kirralie Smith, Binary spokeswoman, said the Student Wellbeing Hub website should concern every parent.

“Governments and activists must not be given free reign to impose their radical ideologies on our children.  Parental rights and consent must be paramount.  These attempts to undermine parental authority are dangerous and will put many children at risk.” Smith said.  “We must protect our youth from potentially harmful medical and surgical interventions that can render them sterile and cause a myriad of health issues.  Minors are not permitted to drive, drink alcohol, get a tattoo or be married.  Yet activists want kids to make permanent, life-altering decisions without the involvement of their parents.  It is crazy!”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Victoria has joined Tasmania, the Northern Territory, South Australia and the ACT, in passing new laws to allow transgender people to self-identify.  “The bill will remove the current requirement for transgender people to undergo sex reassignment surgery before updating their birth certificate.  They will also be free to self-nominate their sex as male, female or many other non-binary descriptors of their choice.”  “Children will also be able alter the gender on their birth certificate, provided they have parental support and a statement from a doctor or registered psychologist stating that the decision is in the child’s best interests.”

The bill passed with majority support, 26-14. Victoria Attorney-General Jill Hennessy, who introduced the bill, celebrated its passing:  “These important new laws are about ensuring everyone can live their life as they choose”. Greens leader Samantha Ratnam welcomed the reform:  “My love to our trans and gender diverse communities who have fought for so long for this.” MPs and advocacy groups including Equality Australia, Transgender Victoria and Ygender took to social media to celebrate.  Kirralie Smith, Binary spokeswoman, said once again ideological activism had overridden facts and common sense.

“These politicians are behaving more like activists, promoting an ideological viewpoint that will have serious consequences for our society.  They have done this without community consultation or comprehensive legal advice.”  “The passing of this bill demonstrates total disregard for the rights and safety of women.  There are no protections in place for female sporting competitions, or women’s safe spaces and services.”

Source: Binary

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By Australian Newsletter

Doctors, church leaders and MPs across the political divide have sounded the alarm on the “creeping” expansion of voluntary euthanasia, warning that key safeguards in the benchmark Victorian law have been stripped out of proposed legislation in other states.  “There is serious concern about this slippage,” the chair of the Australian Medical Association’s ethics and medico legal committee, Chris Moye, said, voicing concerns about the West Australian legislation, while further changes are being proposed in Queensland.  Dr Moye warned that protections in the Victorian law had been cut from the WA bill, which also allows doctors to raise a discussion of euthanasia.

“A lot of this change was happening even before the Victorian law, which is only two months old, has actually been tested,” Dr Moye said.  “At this point, we haven’t seen how assisted dying works in Victoria and yet the slippage is happening across these various jurisdictions.  I think there are two reasons: people were always going to be looking at the Victorian law and the tendency always is to relax legislation.”  The rollout of doctor assisted dying legislation in Western Australia, where there is emotive debate on the government sponsored bill, has also been criticised by the former primate of the Anglican Church and Archbishop of Brisbane, Phillip Aspinall.

And Australian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Mark Coleridge said the “death creep” of further law reform in Queensland could undermine public trust in doctors.  Victoria is the first state after three decades of failed attempts to bring in legalised euthanasia.  Under the reform, backed by the Labor government as “minimalist”, eligibility is restricted to dying adults assessed as having fewer than six months to live or a year in the case of sufferers of a neurodegenerative disease.  They must be experiencing intolerable levels of pain and suffering and have been resident in Victoria for 12 months before making the first formal request to die.

Doctors are not allowed to raise the option of assisted death with eligible patients.  The proposed WA law reverses this, allowing doctors to instigate a discussion on the subject.  The Victorian requirement for one of the two doctors assessing a patient’s eligibility to be a specialist is waived, as is the need for a government permit to allow the lethal medication to be dispensed.  While the default position in Victoria is for the patient to swallow the dose without medical supervision, there is more scope to request the involvement of a doctor under the WA legislation.  If the practitioner has a conscientious objection, the patient must still be provided with general information on assisted dying.

In Victoria, the doctor has 7 days to decline and is under no legal obligation to refer on anyone asking to die.  A draft bill circulated in Queensland by two former members of the state’s law reform commission, Ben White and Lindy Willmott of Queensland University of Technology, scraps the time requirement on life expectancy.  Whilst the Victorian stipulation that the patient must be within six or 12 months of dying, the White-Willmott threshold is “enduring and intolerable suffering”, predicated on the patient’s prognosis being terminal and their illness advanced.  “We could not find a justification to impose an arbitrary time limit,” Professor White said.

The Queensland Government has formed a parliamentary inquiry into voluntary assisted dying in Queensland.  If the Labor government follows the approach it took to abortion law reform last year, the Queensland Law Reform Commission will be involved in framing right-to-die legislation.  Dr Aspinall said the White-Willmott model was designed to extend access to those who didn’t qualify for voluntary assisted dying under the Victorian law and WA legislation, covering people with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and motor neurone disease.  “These factors might be taken as evidence of the potential existence of a slippery slope here in this country,” he warned.

Archbishop Coleridge said he was troubled that voluntary assisted dying law reform was progressing in WA so quickly: “There is a kind of creep, a death creep.”  The WA legislation passed the state’s legislative assembly by a vote of 45-11, but the numbers are tight in the upper house.  Of the 39 MLAs who spoke in the debate in the lower chamber, most backed voluntary assisted dying, albeit it with some reservation.  One of the few to oppose voluntary assisted dying on the Labor side was Mines Minister Bill Johnston.  “It is my judgment that this bill is not suitable to be supported and I will vote against it,” he said.

Liberal Treasury spokesman Dean Nalder said he was fearful that those dying would see it as more “convenient” to end their life rather than enbrace palliative care.  Several members of the state’s upper house have also flagged concerns about features of the bill.  The ability of doctors to raise the option of euthanasia with patients, barred under Victoria’s assisted dying legislation, is shaping as the key sticking point in the Upper House debate. There is also considerable pushback from senior indigenous leaders, with senator Pat Dodson warning that “fears and suspicions of ‘white¬fella’ medicine will only increase” if the bill is passed.

Source:  Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The last few months have been turbulent in the NSW Parliament.  The introduction of the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill (now the Abortion Law Reform Bill) in August, began a two-month campaign to amend this flawed bill which claimed “only to move abortion out of the Crimes Act,” when in reality it would allow late-term abortions up until birth.  Tanya Davies, one of the Liberal Members of Parliament who opposed the bill said “Despite this bill being fast tracked through Parliament without proper public consultation or a Parliamentary inquiry, people from across NSW and Australia rallied quickly.

Within 48 hours over 13,000 people had lodged submissions to the rushed Parliamentary inquiry and over 100,000 people had signed the petition calling on the NSW Legislative Council to reject the bill.  Davies said “Although we were denied proper community consultation (to provide an example, the Animal Cruelty Laws were given five months for public consultation) we were able to delay the vote, and as a result of the overwhelming community engagement, highlight the flaws of the original bill and achieve significant amendments to this legislation.”

The original bill failed to protect doctors with a conscientious objection, failed to protect against sex-selection abortions, failed to provide care to babies born alive after a failed abortion, failed to penalise abortion coercion, failed to ensure women were offered counselling and failed to provide protection for doctors, women and babies.  Davies said “During this campaign, we fought hard and moved many amendments to ensure the protection of women, babies and doctors.  In total, 102 amendments were moved in the Legislative Council alone, with over thirty hours of debate, the third longest debate in the history of the NSW Legislative Council.”

Davies went on “We were able to secure many significant amendments, including concession around sex-selection abortions, duty of care for babies born alive, conscientious objection for doctors, continuation of the common law provisions around late-term abortions, ensure data is collected, ensure women are offered counselling and those that coerce a women on abortion can be penalised.  However, despite our efforts, this bill still contains serious flaws after multiple amendments were rejected, providing anaesthesia for a foetus before a late term abortion and banning the sale and trafficking of foetal tissue.”

But despite these amendments failing to get through, the bill is much better then what was first introduced in August.  Davies said It was a long fight, “one that saw me nearly resign from the Liberal Party room in parliament and move to the crossbench, but I am convinced of the necessity to protect life and protect the vulnerable that I consider it all worthwhile.  From the outset I was strengthened and upheld by these words:  “But in the coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you.  These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Isaiah 54:17)

“So in the end the good will always outlast the evil.  Therefore, persevere in the good, keep going in what is true, keep standing for what is right, and you will overcome and prevail in the end,” (The Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn).  Davies said “These promises became a foundation of strength and certainty for me, encouraging me to continue to keep on fighting, even when all seemed dark.  In the face of great opposition and vile attack, these words gave me the resolve to continue to pursue changes on this life-or-death issue.  In 2011, during my maiden speech to the NSW Parliament I declared that I had come to this place ‘for such a time as this’.”

Davies went on “This radical abortion bill debate and fight for amendments is a demonstration of my maiden speech in action.  I hope my stance and firm resolve in fighting for what is right and good will give encouragement and hope to others to be bold in their sphere of influence.  I was not the only one standing up for life and the vulnerable, and I wish to thank everyone who was involved in this campaign.  Through our collective voice we were able to save many babies and women by ensuring better support and safeguards were introduced into this legislation.  I am forever grateful to all those who stood alongside me as I took up this fight.”

Source: National Alliance of Christian Leaders

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By Australian Newsletter

Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies has told Anglican supporters of same-sex marriage they should leave the church rather than “betray God’s word” in a scathing speech condemning progressive elements within the faith.  He said the church must focus on “evangelising Australia” rather than “the constant pressure to change our doctrine in order to satisfy the lusts and pleasures of the world”. Dr Davies directed his strongest criticism for those that had moved to bless same-sex unions, such as the Wangaratta diocese in Victoria.  That decision has now been referred to the church’s internal appeals tribunal.

Addressing the 51st Synod of the Diocese of Sydney, Dr Davies warned the church had “entered treacherous waters” and called on those who supported same-sex marriage to leave.  “I fear for the stability of the Anglican Church of Australia.  These developments have the potential to fracture our fellowship and impair our communion” said Dr Davies, who is the Synod president.  “My own view is that if people wish to change the doctrine of our church, they should start a new church or join a church more aligned to their views, but do not ruin the Anglican Church by abandoning the plain teaching of Scripture.  Please leave us.

Dr Davies said “We have far too much work to do in evangelising Australia to be distracted by the constant pressure to change our doctrine in order to satisfy the lusts and pleasures of the world.”  Dr Davies said to bless same-sex unions would be to “betray God’s word”.  He conceded “our view of marriage is not a popular one in Australia” and was also now contrary to the law.  The statement by Archbishop Davies has triggering a war of words with the country’s most senior Anglican, fuelling talk of a historic split in the faith of three million Australians.

In response the Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier, the country’s most senior bishop described same-sex marriage as a “social issue” and a matter of conscience.  It came as Dr Davies moved to reassure gay, lesbian and transgender believers they are still welcome at church saying those remarks were directed to “the bishops and those who want to change the doctrine of the church”, not to everyday churchgoers, he said.  “I would never say that to people in the pews.  They are our people.”  Dr Davies said same-sex attracted Anglicans were welcome in the faith, but did not shy away from saying that homosexual sex was a sin.

Dr Davies said he agreed with a controversial Instagram post by sacked rugby player Israel Folau proclaiming homosexuals and adulterers will go to hell.  “If you don’t believe in Jesus and follow his ways then you are going to hell,” Dr Davies said.  “It’s imperative for me to warn people.  It is a gospel issue, and we are about the gospel.”  However, the Archbishop of Brisbane Phillip Aspinall, released a clerical note through his office saying “the Anglican Church in Southern Queensland has taken a different view”, adding that in his diocese “no one is asked to leave”.

Dr Davies’ address to the synod was his last as president and archbishop.  Archbishop Davies, who will retire next year, has led the conservative Sydney Anglican diocese since 2013.  The conservative Sydney diocese is angered by moves in Wangaratta and Newcastle to bless civil same-sex unions.  Dr Freier has referred the matter to the church’s internal appeals tribunal, but the Sydney diocese argues the national church has not been strong enough.  The Melbourne diocese recently voted to express its “sorrow to the bishop and synod of the diocese of Wangaratta for their approval of a liturgy that could be used to bless persons in same-sex relationships”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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