December 5th 2015

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Well designed same-sex marriage law no solution

CANBERRA OBSERVED Kidman hectares to stay in local hands ... for now

EDITORIAL How to respond to Islamic State's latest outrages

OPINION What's left if Malcolm is in the middle?

LIFE ISSUES Feminists, conservatives unite against surrogacy

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Turnbull government is not serious about defence

HISTORY Geography the great shaper of Taiwan

PHILOSOPHY AND POLITICS Green ideology balances illogic with contradiction

SOCIETY Cultural displacement and the new terrorism

PUBLIC POLICY Cannabis for R&D has precedent in poppy trade

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Swedish daycare: paradigm or cautionary tale? Part I

CINEMA Not your average psychopath: James Bond: Spectre

BOOK REVIEW Fantastical Four


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News Weekly, December 5, 2015

Commissioner disappointed


I am deeply disappointed to have been misrepresented in your article, “Bishops being prosecuted for supporting man+woman marriage. Here is what you can do” (News Weekly, November 7, 2015).

According to your article, “This prosecution of the Catholic Bishops is happening despite ... Federal Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, saying that redefining marriage would do no harm”.

This claim is completely inaccu­rate. As you know, the Marriage Act has not currently changed. The challenge facing the Catholic Bishops is from an existing state-based Anti-Discrimination law. I have similar concerns about the design of this law.

Regardless, I have consistently said that there is a risk to religious freedom from a badly designed law recognising marriage for same-sex couples.

For example, in an article in The Sydney Morning Herald, I wrote: “Let’s be clear: a badly designed law can absolutely risk religious liberty, whereas a well-designed law will not” (“Religious freedom isn’t a trump card,” October 21, 2015).

News Weekly has even given a cover story (“Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Or will you be fined?” July 18, 2015) to one of my articles where I have sought to highlight the need to navigate the tension of advancing the rights of gay and lesbian Australians and religious freedom.

The capacity to design a reform to the Marriage Act that properly respects religious freedom is in the hands of religious communities. If I have read the sentiment of News Weekly properly, then your publication is opposed to any change to the Marriage Act. That is an entirely legitimate position that I disagree with. But if you simply oppose change then you vacate the space for designing a law that reflects your concerns.

As Human Rights Commissioner I have consistently worked to try and address the concerns of religious communities in any proposal for change. You may disagree with this approach, but it should at least be respected by being reported accurately.

Tim Wilson,
Human Rights Commissioner,
Sydney, NSW

Prepare for more apologies


Opponents of any change to the Marriage Act have paid insufficient attention to the denial of children’s rights in parenting by same-sex couples.

There is no doubt that the legalisation of same-sex “marriage” will see more same-sex couples raising children. As same-sex couples cannot have children of their own, the above can only happen if a child is removed from at least one biological parent and placed in a family with at least one non-biological parent of the child.

As a nation Australia has recognised the injustice of removing children from biological parents irrespective of the intentions of the remover.

Prime Minister Rudd, to the acclaim of the nation, apologised to the stolen generation who were removed from their parents; and Prime Minister Gillard apologised for the removal of children from single mothers living in institutions.

The removal of a child from a biological parent merely to satisfy the wants of one or two other adults is analogous to the above removals. No one knows how the child will feel about the situation when he is old enough to understand what has happened. Furthermore, it is wrong for an adult to use an unknowing child to satisfy the adult’s wants. This could be seen as child abuse.

The principle that, except in drastic and unavoidable circumstances, a child has a right to be brought up by his biological parents is the same in all the above three cases.

This provides a dilemma for those who supported the apologies of two prime ministers and who are thinking of supporting same-sex “marriage”.

They must be seen and see themselves as hypocrites if they support changes to the Marriage Act, unless they regarded the aforementioned apologies as tokenism – surely an insult to our Indigenous people and the institutionalised single mums.

Kevin Reed,
Mount Waverley, Vic.

Trees of all ages


Victoria has a great heritage in its trees, but it shouldn’t be trying to retain them like museum pieces. The only animals that are happy with that rotten non-solution are the ants. After 30 years of legislation that only meddles in biodiversity, it is time to encourage our city-centric leaders to adopt a much longer-term vision of replacing and regenerating trees.

The shallow and incomplete Native Vegetation Retention (NVR) legislation that has ruled Victoria for 30 years must be completely replaced. All sides of government are complicit in this old cockup that continues to breed nonsense and non-science. The NVR legislation has made people believe RETENTION of very hard wood is the best way to create biodiversity. Retention is by no means the last word on biodiversity, barely the first.

On the southern coast of Victoria this week we see yet another incomplete discussion about providing more habitat for koalas currently starving at Cape Otway. If the animals had more new young regrowth in the Otways, there would be more of them and more room for them. With the current mono-cultural old-growth policy, the animals are going to continue to starve.

There is a natural need for mixed-aged stands. While we let the forest grow older and older, Koalas will only get an inefficient and unreliable form of regrowth along the coast because of salt pruning of the older leaves. Even-aged stands of native vegetation are not natural. Consider the effect of bushfires, which for eons created a patchwork of different-aged stands and diverse ecosystems.

We are not Museum Victoria, but living dynamic Victoria.

John Modra,
Colac, Vic.

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