By Australian Newsletter

The Australian Academy of Science, whose president John Shine is seizing on COVID-19 to campaign for accurate science against “made-up stuff”, has quietly adopted a definition of a woman as “anyone who identifies as a woman”.  The academy’s formula includes transgender people whose “personal gender identity does not correspond with sex assigned at birth” and who remain biological males.  Earlier this month, the academy joined a host of expert bodies in warning Science Minister Karen Andrews that the domestic and childcare burden of dealing with COVID-19 could undo “hard-won gains” made by women in science, technology, engineering and maths.

The expert advice points out women are already underrepresented in these fields and touts the academy’s 10-year “Women in STEM” plan to achieve “gender equity” by inspiring girls to study these disciplines.  A glossary at the end of the taxpayer-funded report redefines what it means to be a girl or woman.  Evolutionary biologist Madeleine Beekman, a professor at the University of Sydney, said she doubted her female colleagues would be aware of this redefinition.  “I find it surprising that it comes from the academy of science, which should be based on science and not on some social, political agenda so, I’m shocked,” she said.  “If you’re going to change the definition of a woman to something that’s no longer based on a biological fact, what are you doing?”

A spokesman for the academy said the definition was in line with the federal Sex Discrimination Act and treaties signed by Australia that “promote equality between women and men”.  Chief Scientist Alan Finkel backed the academy, saying he supported “an inclusive culture within science”.  Ms Andrews, who trained as an engineer, would not be drawn on whether she agreed with the definition, but said the economy needed “the biggest talent pool possible to help solve challenges and capitalise on opportunities”.  Professor Beekman said the academy’s redefinition undermined attempts to understand the role of biology in the career obstacles faced by women, such as child-bearing, default caring, and men wanting to pursue careers involving extreme competition.

“Unless we understand the underrepresentation of women, we can’t do anything about it.” Beekman said.  She said the position taken by the academy was “potentially damaging” to confidence in science, and an unacceptable risk when scientific inquiry was under attack.  She said there was growing realisation that biological sex was a key variable in health and medical treatment, as shown by the higher male mortality rate from COVID-19.  “What this definition of a woman is saying is, biology doesn’t matter, you can be whatever you choose.  “I’m teaching 3rd year evolutionary biology and animal behaviour, and I always make this point, why would you assume that selective pressures that have led to differences in males and females in other organisms don’t apply to us?

Professor Shine, a molecular biologist who ran Sydney’s Garvan medical research institute, is in the middle of a public education campaign, pointing out that challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change cannot be overcome without scientific understanding.  “The only way out for humanity is to apply science, to apply it in a sensible way, to make sure it’s facts, not just made-up stuff,” he says.  He says social media can be a problem because “it gives opportunity for various small groups with particular biases or agendas to cherry pick bits of information and pretend they’re talking real science”.  There are “33 gender identities”, according to the top result for a Google search.

Victorians are able to change their official birth sex once a year by paying $110.50 and filling in an online declaration.  Victorian Equality Minister Martin Foley argues that doing away with the requirement for sex-reassignment surgery allows transgender people to have “their true self” on birth certificates.  In 2013, federal human rights law was changed to allow people to make complaints of discrimination on the basis of their “gender identity”, regardless of their biological sex.  Labor’s then attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said at the time he was satisfied the definition of gender identity was “meaningful” but Christians and radical feminists warned it was subjective and would weaken the rights and protections enjoyed by women on the basis of their biological sex.

Political scientist Sheila Jeffreys, in arguing against Labor’s bill said “Persons who wish to express a gender identity not associated with their biological sex need to be accommodated in ways that protect them, but do not conflict with the rights of women.”  The change in the Sex Discrimination Act flowed through into federal public service guidelines, and “gender identity” has come to overshadow biological sex across many institutions from universities and schools to sporting organisations and big corporations.  Some women’s groups argue that the privacy and safety of women and girls in toilets, change rooms and dormitories are put at risk by the injection of a nebulous gender identity into laws and policies.  Trans activists reject this as scaremongering.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Describing people who pray outside abortion clinics as ‘picketers’ is fake news, said Peter Abetz, WA State Director of the Australian Christian Lobby.  He was responding to claims made by a spokeswoman from an abortion clinic.  “The police permit that allows the vigil requires participants to be 4 metres from the edge of the driveway that leads into the abortion clinic car park,” Mr Abetz said.  “Misrepresenting what the prayer vigil groups do is part of the abortion industry’s propaganda campaign to pressure the state government to introduce their unnecessary exclusion zone legislation.”  “In WA, vegan activists can demonstrate outside restaurants and intimidate diners and workers without a permit. Yet activists want to ban groups praying outside abortion clinics.

As to the claim that police had been called to the clinic, Mr Abetz said the most recent call to police from an abortion clinic that he was aware of, arose in dubious circumstances.  An abortion clinic staff member allegedly stopped their car in the driveway of the clinic, calling out to one of the participants and asked for an information pack.  The group makes these packs available to anyone on request.  A group member walked up to the staff member’s car and gave them the pack.  “The clinic then allegedly called police on the basis that the vigil participant had violated the 4-metre exclusion zone!  The Australian Christian Lobby opposes exclusion zones around clinics as there is no evidence for their necessity.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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By Australian Newsletter

Journalists and media organisations could face a number of trials over contempt charges for alleged reporting on Cardinal George Pell’s conviction, with the first trial tentatively scheduled for November.  Cardinal Pell was convicted by a jury in the Victorian County Court in December 2018 of child sexual abuse charges while the subject of a suppression order.  Cardinal Pell was acquitted by the High Court earlier this year.  The suppression orders were in place because of a pending second trial which did not proceed, allowing the outcome to be reported in February 2019.  But a number of media outlets allegedly published stories referring to the case by including information about the conviction of a high-profile Australian and referenced court orders.

Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Kerri Judd QC has charged 11 corporations and 19 individuals with contempt over the publications.  Charges have already been dropped against five individuals and one media outlet.  Barrister Matt Collins QC, who is representing all 30 accused it was likely multiple trials would be sought.  All would be heard by a judge alone.  Dr Collins said his clients were anxious for the case to be resolved.  If convicted, organisations face significant fines while individuals face up to five years in prison.  Dr Collins previously described the charges as “serious as it gets” said guilty findings could have a “chilling effect” on open justice.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Editor’s note: We thought we would give you something a little different this week.  It does us good sometimes to give thanks to God for what we are able to enjoy in our own land.  Do that as you read what one American sees compared to his own land.

David Mason is a Writer, a Professor, and a Poet Laureate from Colorado, USA.  He says “There’s a lot to admire about Australia, especially if you’re a visiting American.’  ‘More often than you might expect.  Australian friends patiently listening to me enthuse about their country have said: “We need outsiders like you to remind us what we have”.  So here it is, a small presumptuous list of what one foreigner admires in Oz.’

1. Health care.

I know the controver sies, but basic national health care is a gift.  In America , medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy. The drug companies dominate politics and advertising.  You can’t turn on the telly without hours of drug advertisements, something I have never yet seen here.  And your emphasis on prevention, making cigarettes less accessible, for one, is a model.

2. Food.

Yes, we have great food in America too, especially in the big cities.  But your bread is less sweet, your lamb is cheaper, and your supermarket vegetables and fruits are fresher than ours.  Too often in my country, America , an apple is a ball of pulp as big as your face. The dainty Pink Lady apples of Oz are the juiciest I’ve had.  And don’t get me started on coffee.  In American small towns it tastes like water flavoured with burnt dirt, but the smallest shop in the smallest town in Oz can make a first-rate latte.  I love your ubiquitous bakeries, and your hot-cross buns.  Shall I go on?

3. Language.

How do you do it?  The rhyming slang and Aboriginal place names are like magic spells.  Words that seem vaguely English yet also resemble an argot from another planet.  I love the way institutional names get turned into diminutives, Vinnie’s and Salvos, and absolutely nothing’s sacred.  Everything is an opportunity for word games and everyone has a nickname.  Lingo makes the world go round.  It’s the spontaneous wit of the people that tickles me most.  Late one night at a barbie my new mate Suds remarked:  ”Nothing’s the same since 24-7.”  Amen to that.

4. Free-to-air TV.

In Oz, you buy a TV, plug it in and watch some of the best programming I’ve ever seen, uncensored.  In America , you can’t get diddly-squat without paying a cable or satellite company heavy fees.  In Oz a few channels make it hard to choose.  In America, you’ve got 400 channels and nothing to watch.

5. Small shops.

Outside the big cities in America corporations have nearly erased them.  Identical malls with identical restaurants serving inferior food.  Except for geography, it’s hard to tell one American town from another.  The ”take-away” culture here in Australia is wonderful.  The human encounters are real, people love to stir, and stories get told.  The curries here are to die for.  And you don’t have to tip!

6. Free camping.

We used to have this too, and I guess it’s still free when you backpack miles away from the roads.  But I love the fact that in Oz everyone owns the shoreline and in many places you can pull up a camper van and stare at the sea for weeks.  I love the ”primitive” and independent camp-grounds, the life out-of-doors.  The few idiots who leave their stubbies and rubbish behind in these pristine places ought to be transported in chains to the penal colonies.

7. Religion.

In America , it’s everywhere, especially where it’s not supposed to be, like politics.  I imagine you have your Pharisees too, making a big public show of devotion, but I have yet to meet one here.

8. Roads.

Peak hour aside, I’ve found travel on your roads pure heaven.  My country’s ”Freeways” are crowded, crumbling, insanely knotted with looping overpasses – it’s like racing homicidal maniacs on fraying spaghetti!  I’ve driven the Hume Highway without stress, and I love the Princes Highway when it’s two lanes.  Ninety minutes south of Bateman’s Bay I was sorry to see one billboard for a McDonald’s.  It’s blocking a lovely paddock view.  Someone should remove the MacDonald’s Billboard.

9. Real multiculturalism.

I know there are tensions, just like anywhere else, but I love the distinctiveness of your communities and the way you publicly acknowledge the Aboriginal past.  Recently, too, I spent quality time with the Melbourne Greeks, and was gratified both by their devotion to their own great language and culture, and their openness to an Afghan lunch.

10. Fewer guns.

You had Port Arthur in 1996 and got real in response.  America replicates such massacres several times a year and nothing changes.  Why?  Our religion of individual rights makes the good of the community an impossible dream.  Instead of mateship we have ”It’s mine and nobody else’s”.  We talk a great game about freedom, but too often live in fear.  There’s more to say, your kaleidoscopic birds, your perfumed bush in springtime, your vast beaches.

These are just a few of the blessings that make Australia a rarity.  Of course, it’s not paradise, nowhere is, but I love it here.  No need to wave flags like the Americans, and add to the world’s windiness.  Just value what you have here in Australia and don’t give it away!

Source: Compiled by APN from media article.

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By Australian Newsletter

Editor’s note: There are far too many incidents these days where people who express a view that is not in line with the views of left wing activists are castigated and punished.  This loss of free speech in our nation should be a matter of continuous prayer, hence the publication of this story.

Melbourne cafe owner Matt Lanigan says the community response was initially positive after he gave several interviews to TV stations and local online publications calling for uniformity between Victoria’s COVID-19 lockdown laws and those in other states.  But after he recorded a social media video with Victorian Liberal frontbencher Tim Smith, his business was swamped with dozens of one-star online reviews, amid a campaign from the Australian branch of international left-wing activist group Sleeping Giants.  The attack on Mr Lanigan’s business comes as other Victorian cafe owners say they fear small and mid-sized hospitality businesses will be “destroyed” by the rule of having one person every 4sq m, which will continue to apply even after restrictions are lifted sufficiently to allow up to 100 people into larger venues.

When other states announced that cafes and restaurants would be able to serve eat-in meals to small numbers of customers, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews opted to keep hospitality takeaway-only until at least the end of May, saying businesses had told him it would not be viable to open for just 10 patrons.  Mr Lanigan said he had spoken out, because he believed businesses should have been able to make that decision themselves.  “We were disappointed the rest of the country was given an opportunity to decide if they could open viably and generate some more revenue, but we weren’t given that same opportunity,” he said.

Mr Andrews announced that Victorian cafes, restaurants and pubs would be able to serve meals to up to 20 customers from June 1, with up to 50 patrons from June 22 and 100 from the second half of July, subject to the 4sq m rule.  Mr Lanigan said “If we had been told, ‘you can’t do this but this is the plan’, then there wouldn’t have been any need for the lobbying that we did the week before” he said.  But by the time Mr Andrews made his announcement, a tweet from Sleeping Giants Oz accusing “Tim Smith’s great mate” Mr Lanigan of appearing in TV interviews to provide “all the right anti-Dan Andrews answers” was already doing the rounds online.

This resulted in a flurry of negative reviews that cut his cafe’s rating, earned organically through six years of positive customer reviews, from 4.7 stars to 4.3.  “Our brand’s stronger than these nuisances, but almost none of them are locals or have ever visited the cafe,” Mr Lanigan said.  “A lot of them have profiles which say they’re from Sydney.”  Mr Lanigan said he had been speaking as a business owner in the interests of struggling hospitality employees and employers.

Source: Compiled by APN from media article

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By Australian Newsletter

Editor’s note: We are aware of the recent attacks from the Chinese Communist Government against Australia in the area of trade, but this story also shows how Chinese companies are also on the attack against individual Australian businesses.  Our prayers should be directed towards turning these unreasonable attacks away, and protecting Australian businesses in the process.

A Hong Kong-based Chinese company is threatening to move on the operator of one of Australia’s most famous five-star resorts after it closed down to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.  The operator, Delaware North, is accused of breaking a $2m-a-year sublease to run the luxury getaway on north Queensland’s Lizard Island and faces punishing financial damages unless the resort is immediately reopened.  The demands are spelled out in a lawyer’s letter from the island’s primary leaseholder, Hong Kong’s SEA Holdings group, which insists the Great Barrier Reef retreat should have stayed open in defiance of the infection risk and travel bans.

This is an impossible request when Australia’s international borders are sealed, and Queensland has banned travellers from interstate.  As well, the northern section of Cape York Peninsula has been declared a biosecurity zone to protect the vulnerable indigenous population, making for few if any takers for the up to $5000-a-night rates that come with Lizard Island’s status as a playground for the rich and famous.  The Queensland government is examining the 1997 lease on the coral-ringed island 240km northeast of Cairns to rein in the company.  The international property conglomerate is controlled by Hong Kong-Chinese business identity Lu Wing-chi and son Lambert Lu.

The dispute with SEA Holdings erupted after the resort closed on March 29 with a notional reopening date in June.  Delaware North sought rent relief, in line with the mandatory code of conduct put in place by Scott Morrison to cover commercial leasing during the COVID-19 period.  The operator cited safety and environmental requirements in shuttering the Lizard Island facility, rebuilt after Cyclone Yasi razed the site in 2011, at a cost of $45m.  SEA Holdings’s lawyers pushed back, arguing there were no “lawful directives” requiring resorts or hotels to cease trading.  Disputing this, the operator said travel restrictions and other anti-COVID measures effectively cost Lizard Island its well-heeled customer base.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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