NATIONAL AFFAIRS: by John BallantyneNews Weekly
Australian Democrats, Greens move to restrict religion
, March 18, 2006
Australian Democrats leader Senator Lyn Allison's moves to restrict religion have been attacked as instituting "intolerance on a grand scale"
.An attempt by the Australian Democrats and Greens to abolish prayers in Parliament, and to remove tax advantages for religious groups, was defeated in the Senate on March 1.
Parliamentary leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Lyn Allison, introduced a notice of motion in the Senate, calling on the Howard Government, "if it is serious about a secular state", to take steps to:-
"(i) remove religious references from statutory oaths and pledges,
(ii) abolish official parliamentary prayers,
(iii) remove tax advantages that solely apply for religious purposes ..."
The seven senators who voted in favour of Senator Allison's notice of motion were:-
- Three of the four Australian Democrat senators: Lyn Allison (Victoria), Andrew Bartlett (Queensland) and Andrew Murray (Western Australia).
- All four Greens senators: Bob Brown and Christine Milne (Tasmania), Kerry Nettle (New South Wales) and Rachel Siewert (Western Australia).
Senator Allison's notice of motion was defeated.
After the vote, the Nationals' Senate leader, Senator Ron Boswell, denounced Senator Allison's notice of motion, describing it as "intolerance on a grand scale".
He said: "It is a sad day when the leader of a political party in Australia feels free to openly attack the religious contributions of so many Australians.
"Former Democrat Senator, the Rev. John Woodley, would never have allowed this persecution of groups whose contribution to the social capital of Australia has been so great and ongoing."
Australian Democrats parliamentary leader, Senator Lyn Allison, recently co-sponsored a Bill - later passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives - to strip federal Health Minister Tony Abbott of his ministerial veto power over the introduction into Australia of the controversial abortion drug, RU-486.
Decision-making powers concerning the drug have now been handed over to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the regulatory body that manages prescription drugs.