Defending Religious Freedom

With the leaking of selected parts of the report of the Religious Freedom Review chaired by the Hon Philip Ruddock, religious freedom is back in the news.

During my first four years in the Victorian Parliament there were three attacks on religious freedom in Victoria – by the Andrews Labor Government; by the Greens; and by Fiona Patten.

Remembrance Day

11 November 2018 marks exactly 100 years since the Armistice between the Allies (including Australia) and Germany came into effect at 11 am (Paris time) on 11 November 1918.

The Armistice brought an end to a tragic world war in which nearly 20 million people, military and civilian, lost their lives.

Australia lost 1.2 % of its population with 61,560 combat deaths.

(Rachel laying a wreath at the 2017 Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Cenotaph in Werribee)

Labor supports men buying women as a human right

I was dismayed to see that Labor’s platform for the Victorian election includes a proposal to consider “decriminalisation of all sex work in Victoria”. 

Labor is ready to see and call out “gendered violence” everywhere else – the term is mentioned no less than five times in the platform’s section on “Your rights at work”. The platform, in its section on “Liveable Communities”, even calls for “a gendered analysis of the physical infrastructure in the state”.

Nurses, Midwives and Safe Care Ratios

Hypocrisy in politics knows no limits.

The last business debated in the Legislative Council on Thursday, 20  September, its last day of sitting before the election, was the Safe Patient Care (Nurse to Patient and Midwife to Patient Ratios) Amendment Bill 2018.

This Bill was just one of twenty one government bills remaining on the Notice Paper of the Legislative Council, having been passed by the Legislative Assembly but not receiving sufficient priority from the government to be debated to conclusion in the Council.

The Bill was supported by the Liberal National opposition, and by the cross bench.

Right to free religious expression

Religious freedom - why are we talking about "exemptions" rather than our right to free religious expression? These “exemptions” are actually not exemptions at all, but are legitimate expressions of our religious freedom. We need to completely rethink the way that we approach these issues – allowing faith-based schools to hire staff who operate in accordance with their beliefs should not be a controversial topic. If society continues to vilify our expressions of religious freedom, we will be heading down a very dangerous path.

Mark Fowler sums it up perfectly when he says, “To fail to recognise the rights of faith-based institutions would strip the wider community of the unique voice of such bodies.” This is exactly what proponents of removing religious “exemptions” are trying to do. They are desperately trying to silence our unique voices and keep our worship private, so that one day, there will be no dissenting voices left to their contested ideologies.  

National Apology

Today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a formal public apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. 

This follows the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, published in December last year. 

Scott Morrison delivering an apology to victims of institutional child abuse. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP