VICTORIAN STATE ELECTION by Terri M. KelleherNews Weekly
Freedoms under threat if Labor wins
, November 22, 2014
Celebrating “gender and sexual diversity”, under the Safe Schools program, will be compulsory in all state high schools, if Labor wins office in the Victorian state election to be held on November 29.
Victorian Labor leader
Faith-based schools and agencies are likely to be prohibited from being able to exercise the right to hire people who share their beliefs and values under new anti-discrimination laws Labor is promising to introduce.
Labor’s pledge to allow gay couples to adopt children will deprive children of the right to be raised by a mother and a father.
Another controversial Labor policy is to legalise “medical” marijuana.
Labor also plans to recognise overseas same-sex “marriages” as registered relationships.
Victorians go to the polls in a few days’ time, in what is seen as a watershed election in terms of basic freedoms most Australians have until now taken for granted — such as freedom of religion, thought, belief, conscience and freedom of association.
Freedom of religion
The issue of most immediate concern to Victoria’s churches and religious bodies is Labor’s policy to amend the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act to restrict the freedom of faith-based organisations and agencies, such as schools, hospitals, charities, welfare agencies, counselling and support services, to employ those who share their beliefs and values.
Labor has declared that, if elected, it will re-introduce a provision in the Equal Opportunity Act, which it first inserted while in government in 2010. The proposed amendment would restrict the freedom of faith-based organisations to favour employing persons who share the beliefs and values of that faith unless that is an “inherent requirement” of the particular job.
Labor says that this anti-discrimination measure would apply only to gardeners and ancillary staff. But Victoria’s Liberal Attorney-General Robert Clark disputes this.
He says: “It was clear when these amendments were put in place in 2010 that it was intended to extend to all teaching staff, save perhaps chaplains and those with a particular role in teaching the faith of the organisation concerned.”
If faith-based schools can no longer exercise the freedom to employ those who will uphold their values, parents will no longer be able to choose the education they want for their children, especially if they want their children educated in a faith environment with role models exemplifying particular values.
The Liberal and National parties, when they were elected to government in Victoria in 2010, repealed Labor’s “inherent requirement” measure before it became operative and have pledged to continue the present provision which protects the freedom of faith-based organisations to employ those who share their beliefs and values.
Safe Schools Coalition
Labor has also announced that it will expand the controversial Safe Schools Coalition program, which aims to ensure that “gender and sexual diversity are supported and celebrated in all areas of the school community”, into all Victorian state high schools.
The program has been operating in Victorian schools for the past four years; but at present it is optional and a school must choose to join. If it is to be expanded into all state high schools then there will be no choice.
Safe Schools is promoted as being primarily about combating bullying; but its true agenda is mainly concerned with normalising and mainstreaming homosexuality among school-age children.
Protecting children from bullying, for whatever reason, deserves to be supported. But there are other better and more specific strategies for achieving this, such as the highly successful American program called RULER, which is “designed to teach the skills for Recognising, Understanding, Labelling, Expressing and Regulating emotions” (News Weekly, July 19, 2014).
The misnamed Safe Schools program, far from tackling bullying and encouraging inclusiveness, in fact promotes a culture that deters children (and their teachers) from questioning the program’s assumptions for fear of being labelled homophobic or transphobic.
This is a fundamental denial of the right to freedom of speech. It also denies parents the right to decide what values they want their children taught.
Labor says that, while Safe Schools will be compulsory for all government schools, independent and religious schools will be “encouraged” to join the program. The Safe Schools Coalition was initially funded by Labor, and the Coalition has continued to fund it ever since.
Victoria’s abortion laws
Another election issue is freedom of conscience for health professionals, doctors, nurses and pharmacists, not to have to be involved with abortions if it is against their conscience.
The Victorian Abortion Law Reform Act was passed in 2008 under a Labor government. Section 8 forces health professionals with a conscientious objection to abortion to refer a woman seeking an abortion, or advice on an abortion, to another health professional who has no such objection.
The Victorian Liberal and National government elected in 2010 has not amended Section 8 to restore the right of health professionals to their freedom of conscience in the exercise of their profession.
Same-sex ‘marriage’ and adoption of children
Labor has also announced that, if elected, it will legislate to allow same-sex couples to adopt, and will recognise foreign same-sex marriages as registered relationships under the Victorian Registered Relationships Act.
The Coalition parties have no policy to recognise foreign same-sex marriages and, although they have asked the Liberal lower-house MP for Prahran, Clem Newton-Brown, to investigate the issue of same-sex couples adopting children, have not announced any intention to allow it.
Labor is committed to legalising “medical” marijuana. The Coalition, although it currently has no policy to legalise it, has announced it will consider easing the regulation of consent to taking part in proper clinical trials of possible medical applications of compounds from the marijuana plant.
Three minor political parties with conservative Christian values
An alternative to Labor and the Coalition are three minor conservative parties contesting the state election — the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), Australian Christians and the Rise Up Australia Party — which are pledged to defend the unborn, man-woman only marriage and freedom of conscience for health professionals.
Terri M. Kelleher is Victorian state president of the Australian Family Association.
Safe Schools Coalition
Patrick J. Byrne, “Same-sex marriage set to transform our schools”, News Weekly, March 31, 2012.
Patrick J. Byrne, “Same-sex marriage: attack on religious freedom and parents’ rights”, News Weekly, April 28, 2012.
Patrick J. Byrne, “Push for new laws to attack churches, schools”, News Weekly, May 26, 2012.
John Ballantyne, “Safe Schools program to promote ‘sexual diversity’”, News Weekly, July 5, 2014.
David van Gend, “‘Safe Schools’ scandal: Open letter to the education minister”, News Weekly, August 16, 2014.
Victoria’s abortion laws
Peter Westmore, “Behind Victoria’s radical new abortion law”, News Weekly, October 25, 2008.
Terri Kelleher, “Melbourne GP may be struck off after refusing abortion referral”, News Weekly, October 26, 2013.
David van Gend, “Why the right to conscientious objection must be restored”, News Weekly, July 5, 2014.
Adoption of children by same-sex couples
Patricia Morgan, Children as Trophies? Examining the Evidence on Same-Sex Parenting (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK: The Christian Institute, 2002).
Bill Muehlenberg, “The children who will pay the biggest price”, News Weekly, November 14, 2009.
Bill Muehlenberg, “Should same-sex couples be allowed to adopt children?”, September 3, 2011.
Bill Muehlenberg, “Obliterating parenthood and families”, News Weekly, March 2, 2013.
Chris McCumstie, “Same-sex marriage: children are the biggest stakeholders”, News Weekly, September 28, 2013.
Patrick J. Byrne, “Like ‘baby-farming’, donor conception robs children of their identity”, News Weekly, September 27, 2014.
Bill Muehlenberg, “The folly of decriminalising cannabis”, News Weekly, March 1, 2014.
Jeffry Babb, “Crime-fighters brace for swelling tide of ‘ice’”, News Weekly, March 1, 2014.
Grady Judd, “Marijuana ‘for medicinal purposes’ a wolf in sheep’s clothing”, News Weekly, September 13, 2014.
Christian political parties contesting the Victorian state election 2014
Michael Murphy, “Three minor parties pledge to defend Judeo-Christian values”, News Weekly, November 8, 2014.