Julia Gillard has opened the door to the nation's first legal same-sex marriage laws, removing obstacles to the social agenda of the Australian Greens despite her personal opposition to gay unions. And the Greens, whose support the Prime Minister relies on to maintain her minority government, are also pressing Labor to facilitate a conscience vote aimed at reversing a 1997 bill that outlawed Northern Territory euthanasia laws. As the Prime Minister yesterday agreed to back a Greens push to water down the commonwealth's ability to veto laws made by territories, the ACT Greens quickly moved to capitalise on her decision, foreshadowing a fresh campaign to legalise same-sex marriage.
Once again the Gillard government is seen to be following the lead and policy agenda of the Greens - this time on "territories' rights", which is code for euthanasia and same-sex marriage. The Greens have extracted Labor backing for their own agenda on issues that Labor MPs have been denied the chance to express views - or been given detailed briefings in return for one vote in a minority government. Labor's agenda is being distorted by the Greens, and Julia Gillard's authority is being diminished as business fears grow she is losing control of the formulation of a carbon price. Only a few days after Greens' leader Bob Brown stood in the Prime Minister's courtyard and declared the plan for a carbon tax to be the Greens plan - and his deputy, Christine Milne, declared petrol had to be included in that tax - the Greens have again taken charge.
The gay, lesbian and queer communities in Sydney are being called on to ‘Say Something’ during the annual Mardi Gras parade this weekend. According to organisers, the right to marry is a dominant theme of a large number of floats. But campaigns in favour of ‘gay’ or ‘same-sex’ marriage ignore those intersex, trans and other sex and/or gender diverse people who are unable to marry. Many intersex people’s sex is regarded as indeterminate at birth, with doctors often making the decision to surgically construct them into the appearance of stereotypical males or females and writing either an M or F on the birth certificate, even though their gender expression in later years may be contrary to their decreed sex. “So long as I have a sex on my birth certificate, as distinct to the gender I live, I am constrained by the same legislation that limits same-sex couples – that a marriage can only be between a man and a woman,” says Gina Wilson, president of the Australian chapter of Organisation Intersex International (OII).
A Christian couple, Eunice and Owen Johns, have spoken of their “extreme distress” after they were banned from becoming foster parents because of their faith-based opposition to homosexuality. The couple said they felt excluded for holding “normal, mainstream, Christian views” and had been willing to “love and accept any child”. “All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing,” the couple said after losing their case at the High Court.
Opposition MPs have strongly attacked the ban on Bibles and other holy books being handed out at citizenship ceremonies, with Tony Abbott describing it as outrageous. Tasmanian Liberal senator Guy Barnett told the Coalition party room this was ''political correctness gone mad. There should be freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.'' Previously, local councils and community groups gave people at citizenship ceremonies Bibles, which they could keep. But under rules that the government says came in during the Howard years, people can bring their own Bibles or other holy books but they can't be handed out.
Police are investigating whether a killer mail order drug promoted by euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke was bought by two people before their deaths in Melbourne last week. Indications of the euthanasia drug, banned from purchase in Australia but available online from overseas, have surfaced in police inquiries into both cases. The drug, which the Herald Sun has decided not to name, is a veterinary medication. It was found where the body of an eastern suburbs man was found last Tuesday.
At this time of year, there is normally a raft of stories about private school fees and government funding. Now, there seems to be a swing in public sentiment towards questioning the level of financial support given to private schools. A recent poll shows 70 per cent of people think the federal government gives too much money to private schools. The Australian Education Union, representing state school teachers, is campaigning on the issue, and a number of newspapers and commentators are pushing the same agenda. Such commentary is significant because the Gonski review into federal funding of schools is under way. The review may shape the funding of non-government schools for many years to come.
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February 16, 2018
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