By Australian Newsletter

“…My parents laid the foundation for my life.  Together with my brother, Alan, they demonstrated through their actions their Christian faith and the value they placed on public and community service.  In our family, it has never been what you accumulate that matters but what you contribute.  I thank them for their sacrifice, love and, above all, their example.  To my wife, Jenny, on Valentine’s Day: words are not enough.  She has loved and supported me in all things and made countless sacrifices, consistent with her generous, selfless and caring nature.  However, above all, I thank her for her determination to never give up hope for us to have a child.  After 14 years of bitter disappointments, God remembered her faithfulness and blessed us with our miracle child, Abbey Rose, on the seventh of the seventh of the seventh, to whom I dedicate this speech today in the hope of an even better future for her and her generation.

Growing up in a Christian home, I made a commitment to my faith at an early age and have been greatly assisted by the pastoral work of many dedicated church leaders, in particular the Reverend Ray Green and pastors Brian Houston and Leigh Coleman.  My personal faith in Jesus Christ is not a political agenda.  As Lincoln said, our task is not to claim whether God is on our side but to pray earnestly that we are on His.  For me, faith is personal, but the implications are social, as personal and social responsibility are at the heart of the Christian message.  In recent times it has become fashionable to negatively stereotype those who profess their Christian faith in public life as ‘extreme’ and to suggest that such faith has no place in the political debate of this country.  This presents a significant challenge for those of us, like my colleague, who seek to follow the example of William Wilberforce or Desmond Tutu, to name just two.  These leaders stood for the immutable truths and principles of the Christian faith.  They transformed their nations and, indeed, the world in the process.  More importantly, by following the convictions of their faith, they established and reinforced the principles of our liberal democracy upon which our own nation is built.

Australia is not a secular country, it is a free country.  This is a nation where you have the freedom to follow any belief system you choose.  Secularism is just one. It has no greater claim than any other on our society.  As US Senator Joe Lieberman said, the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not from religion.  I believe the same is true in this country.

So what values do I derive from my faith?  My answer comes from Jeremiah, chapter 9:24: … I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, declares the Lord.

From my faith I derive the values of loving-kindness, justice and righteousness, to act with compassion and kindness, acknowledging our common humanity and to consider the welfare of others; to fight for a fair go for everyone to fulfil their human potential and to remove whatever unjust obstacles stand in their way, including diminishing their personal responsibility for their own wellbeing; and to do what is right, to respect the rule of law, the sanctity of human life and the moral integrity of marriage and the family.  We must recognise an unchanging and absolute standard of what is good and what is evil…

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By Australian Newsletter

Scott Morrison’s cabinet must decide on a proposal for a Religious Discrimination Act, but face a damaging backlash ahead of the crucial Wentworth by-election following disputed claims schools could be handed new powers to turn away gay students. The proposed legislation, a key recommendation in the Ruddock review of religious freedom, is viewed within the Morrison government as a way to end Coalition infighting and allay fears among religious groups following the divisive same-sex marriage debate. Liberal MPs who backed same-sex marriage including Trent Zimmerman, Tim Wilson and Dean Smith, have indicated they are open to a Religious Discrimination Act so long as the measure is not seen as the introduction of a bill of rights by stealth.

“This approach is consistent with the opportunity identified by the Senate committee into marriage equality, which said that a religious protection in federal law should be examined,” Senator Smith said. Senior government ministers have said they believed it “very likely” the proposal for a new religious discrimination act would be endorsed by cabinet, although the issue is not yet on the agenda for discussion. Support for the shake-up was jeopardised following a backlash over suggestions the review led by Philip Ruddock would hand new powers to faith-based schools, allowing them to discriminate against homosexual students and teachers on religious grounds.

The Liberal candidate in the by-election, Dave Sharma, has distanced himself from the debate and declared he was “opposed to any new measures that impose forms of discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation”. Wentworth, vacated by Malcolm Turnbull, is home to one of the largest LGBTI communities in Australia and returned a 80.8% “Yes” vote for same-sex marriage in last year’s postal plebiscite. Mr Sharma is facing a challenge for the seat from prominent independent candidate and LGBTI advocate Kerryn Phelps, who has a strong following in the electorate. If the Coalition loses Wentworth, it would be forced into minority government.

Bill Shorten railed against the suggestion that faith-based schools would be given new powers to discriminate against students, a false claim reported in Fairfax Media. The Opposition Leader called on the government to rule out “creating new laws to discriminate against kids in education”. Attorney-General Christian Porter clarified that the exemptions allowing religious schools to refuse gay students and teachers already existed in carve-outs to the Sex Discrimination Act and were extended by Labor under Julia Gillard in 2013. They were not recommendations stemming from the Ruddock review.

“Bill Shorten saying that he opposes the religious schools making decisions about employment and student admissions consistent with their religion ignores the fact that those exemptions were introduced by Labor in 2013,” Mr Porter said. “Bill Shorten is either shockingly ignorant of laws that he created or terribly hypocritical in his desperation to score a political point”. Under the current law there are listed exemptions that apply to “educational institutions established for religious purposes”. They allow religious schools to discriminate against students and teachers in accordance with their religious doctrines. Similar exemptions exist in ACT, NSW and WA law.

Responding to Fairfax reports that the Ruddock review would hand schools new powers to discriminate against homosexual students and teachers, the Prime Minister said: “That is the existing law. The report in the Sydney Morning Herald forgot to mention one critical factor: that the existing law enables schools to do exactly what was in that report,” he said. “So that’s not a change. That’s actually backing in an existing law. We’re not proposing to change that law to take away that existing arrangement that exists.” The Ruddock review sought to trim back the exemptions allowing schools to discriminate against gay students and teachers.

“To the extent that some jurisdictions do not currently allow religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender characteristics, the panel sees no need to introduce such provisions,” it said. “Very few religious schools or organisations submitted that this was necessary. To the extent however that certain jurisdictions including the commonwealth do allow this type of discrimination, the panel believes the exceptions should be limited by the requirement that the discrimination be in accordance with a published policy which is grounded in the religious doctrines of the school”.

Mr Ruddock told The Australian the review’s recommendations were aimed at “restricting” the ability of schools in the ACT, NSW and WA to reject homosexual staff and students. “It essentially deals with those students who might be disciplined where they are facing gender challenges and to make it clear that if any such actions are to occur it has to be dealt with in contractual arrangements before the student is enrolled,” Mr Ruddock said. “And the schools have to make it very clear that it’s part of their established ethos. It is restricting in those states where it is permitted”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Christian schools will not reject students because of their sexual orientation and media headlines about “secret plans” to allow them to do so, are wrong, say Christian education leaders.  The news headlines sprung out of a leaked report into the Federal Government’s Religious Freedom Review.  According to Fairfax the report, presented to the government in May but not made public, “calls for amendments to the federal Sex Discrimination Act to allow religious schools to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status”.

Mark Spencer, the national policy officer for Christian Schools Australia, said that Fairfax’s article didn’t represent the heart nor the intent of faith-based schools. “To sum this up in a cheap headline that suggests they’re going to be expelled doesn’t reflect the nature of Christian schools, and the care we have for all our students” Spencer said.  But a follow up article in The Australian about the Phillip Ruddock-headed review, says the Fairfax article is incorrect, and that the review seems to in fact be doing the opposite: seeking to restrict the ability of religious schools to turn away LGBTI staff or students. “The characterisation of this as a zero-sum game, winners-losers, that is the way the media tends to portray a lot of these really complex issues,” Spencer said.

“What we’re dealing with here in relation to students, is young people who are often struggling to work out who they are, their place in the world, how they fit in society, what they believe, and what their sexual identity is” Spencer went on.  Mr Spencer said Christian schools under his care have never expelled students just for identifying as an LGBTI person. Gay-identifying students have at times been expelled from schools just as straight students have, because of behavioural or conduct issues, but sexual orientation is not a reason for disciplinary measures, he said.

“We’ve had students who have been same sex attracted, and their schools have pastorally cared for them, supported them, taught them what the Bible teaches about morality and sexuality and sexual conduct, but still loved and cared for them,” he said.  Former Christian Schools Australia CEO and Christian radio presenter Stephen O’Doherty concurred, saying the idea that Christian schools want to sideline homosexual students or force them to conform their sexual identity, isn’t representative of Christian schooling. “The schools I know take tremendous efforts in supporting all students, including those who identify as same-sex attracted.”

“In my experience that’s not the way schools operate.  The schools I know take tremendous efforts in supporting all students, including those who identify as same-sex attracted.  Teenage years are a time of great change and flux and when a student is discovering their sexuality they do need a safe and supportive environment.  And schools do provide those environments.  That’s the heartbeat of those schools. “Christian schools are not asking for the right to expel kids on the basis of their sexuality.  And I would be highly surprised if the Ruddock report has recommended anything along those lines.

“It’s far more likely that it’s said there’s some lack of clarity about how schools are able to teach about religious values.   I’m sure the Ruddock Committee will have addressed that to say we need to make sure all the states and territories are on the same page.”  What the Christian education sector does want, is the right to maintain school culture, and appoint staff who will be comfortable teaching Christian values and beliefs to students.  “We want be able to ensure we have staff who share the values of the school, share the beliefs of the school, can model those and live that out in their lives, and reflect that in what they teach to the students,” Mr Spencer said.

“When it comes to others in the school community, all we’re wanting in the very rare cases where it becomes an issue, is the ability to actually ensure we can protect the essential fabric of the school.  If it came to a situation where someone was seeking to undermine the very fabric of who we are as a Christian school, then in those very rare cases, yes, we want the ability to be able to say to those students, their families, this may not be the school for you.”  In its submissions to the Religious Freedom Review, CSA has asked the government to be proactive in protecting peoples’ right to believe, rather than taking an exemption-based approach to religious freedom.

Stephen O’Doherty said the Religious Freedom Review is vital for Australia’s future.  “It’s about whether religious institutions, schools or other institutions, can act in a way that is consistent with their teachings, beliefs, and doctrines,” he said.  “It covers whether Christian organisations can hire staff who are Christians when they’re engaged in Christian ministry activities.  “Currently political parties have more protection than most religious organisations.”  The report is expected to look at whether a religious freedoms commissioner should be appointed, and whether freedom and discrimination laws should be standardised across the states and territories.

Source: 103.2FM

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By Australian Newsletter

On 16 July 2018, the Queensland Cabinet unsurprisingly decided to accept the recommendations of the hand-picked Queensland Law Reform Commission and adopt its Draft Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018.  A parliamentary vote is scheduled for the parliamentary sitting week of 16 October.  The main points of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 are:

Abortion on demand up to 22 weeks for any reason.

Abortion past 22 weeks’ gestation until birth, under a wide range of criteria including “social” reasons.  Although a second doctor’s consent is required, the second doctor will not even have to see the woman, or look at her file, and there is no legal penalty if the abortion is performed without a second doctor’s approval.

Sex-selection abortion would be legal, so unborn female babies would be killed for the “crime” of being a girl.

There are no safeguards for women seeking an abortion, such as independent counselling, informed consent conditions and cooling-off periods.

No effective conscientious objection for doctors.  Doctors with conscientious objections would have to refer a woman seeking an abortion to another doctor who will be able to facilitate her request, thus making the referring doctor complicit in the outcome.

Any communication against abortion within 150 metres of abortion clinics would be criminalised, including peaceful “sidewalk” counselling, silent prayer, or even a mother asking her daughter not to have an abortion, or a boyfriend offering support and trying to persuade his partner to continue with the pregnancy.

Removing all provisions about abortion from the Criminal Code (other than an unqualified person performing the procedure).

One of the many consequences of this new law would be that abortions would be performed in taxpayer-funded public hospitals, and therefore would be free.  This inevitably would lead to an increase in the number of abortions and therefore the number of women harmed.

Under the current law, 14,000 abortions are performed in Queensland every year.  This is the equivalent of two classrooms of children being destroyed in Queensland every working day.  Private clinics already can get a licence to perform abortions up to 20 weeks’ gestation, and women don’t even need a doctor’s referral to book an abortion.  About 2% of abortions are performed in public hospitals, both before and after 20 weeks for foetal abnormalities and, in rare cases, where the pregnancy causes a serious danger to a woman’s health.  No woman has ever been convicted for having an abortion under the current law.  Most abortions attract a Medicare rebate.

Source: Cherish Life

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By Australian Newsletter

Bill Hayden, former Governor-General of Australia and lifelong atheist, has found God and been baptized in a Catholic Church at 85 years of age. Hayden “said it was witnessing so many selfless acts of compassion by Christians over his lifetime, and deep contemplation while recovering from a stroke, that prompted his decision.” Hayden, who during his political career identified as a humanist, was baptized on September 9 at St. Mary’s Church in Ipswich. Hayden revealed that he had been experiencing “a gnawing pain in my heart and soul about what is the meaning of life.” “What’s my role in it?” he stated of the questions that bothered him.

He said that although in declining health, he is hoping his new-found faith will inspire others. “This took too long, and now I am going to be devoted,” Hayden noted. “From this day forward I’m going to vouch for God,” he pledged. Father Peter Dillon, the Catholic priest who baptized him, said that despite his life-long atheism, the former federal opposition leader and foreign minister had a change of heart several months ago. “It was a big thing for him, an act of submission to the fact that there was no denying for him that God is real and he had come to discover that,” Dillon said.

Hayden revealed that a big influence on his conversion was his own Catholic mother, who taught him the principles of humanity, social commitment and service to others. It was a recent hospital visit to see Sister of Mercy Angela Mary Doyle, the 93-year-old nun famous for her long history of helping the poor, that finally motivated him to turn to God, however. “I have always felt embraced and loved by her Christian example,” he said. “Sister Angela Mary Doyle was for twenty-two years administrator of Mater hospitals in Brisbane, a citadel of health care for the poor of South Brisbane where I grew up towards the end of the Great Depression,” Hayden explained.

“Dallas (my wife), our daughter Ingrid and I recently visited Sister Angela Mary in the Mater Hospital where she was a patient,” he added. “The next morning I woke with the strong sense that I had been in the presence of a holy woman. “So after dwelling on these things I found my way back to the core of those beliefs, the Church.” Hayden said that he would like to play an active part in the St, Vincent de Paul Society, one of the major Catholic charities in the country. Amid his conversion, Hayden did touch upon a major controversial topic that has gripped Catholic churches worldwide, namely decades-long child sex abuse. “The problems are caused by human agents of the Church, but we shouldn’t let our faith be undermined those who aren’t quite as good as they should be,” the former politician said of the issue.

Source: The Christian Post

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By Australian Newsletter

A new threat to the freedom of conscience, speech and action of doctors is the Australian Health Practitioners’ Regulatory Authority’s (AHPRA’s) proposed revision of their code of conduct called: Good Medical Practice: A code of conduct for doctors in Australia. AHPRA is the statutory body that controls registration of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. It has the power to deregister health professionals if it sees fit. Changes to the wording of the code mean that doctors could be deregistered for expressing personal opinions.

The proposed revision says: “The boundary between a doctor’s personal and public profile can be blurred. As a doctor, you need to acknowledge and consider the effect of your comments and actions outside work, including online. If making public comment, you should acknowledge the profession’s generally accepted views and indicate when your personal opinion differs.

Behaviour which could undermine community trust in the profession is at odds with good medical practice and may be considered unprofessional”.

This proposed draconian change to the code seeks to silence any dissent to the view expressed by AHPRA. It threatens the livelihoods of doctors who do not subscribe, for example, to the view that gender dysphoric children should be quickly pushed down the path of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones or who have a conscientious objection to abortion, to name but two.

Toowoomba GP Dr David van Gend is currently being investigated by APHRA for simply retweeting comments.

Please pray:

  • that the wording of the final code will not result in the limitation of free speech.
  • that the committee considering the new code will not be influenced subjectively by pressure groups.
  • that the voice of all in the medical profession will be heard and considered before final decisions are made. The loudest voices or vested interests do not always represent the majority view.

Source: Australian Family Association 

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