The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is calling on the ACT Government to make it illegal for people to purchase sex. The group has told a Legislative Assembly committee inquiry into the ACT Prostitution Act that regulation of the sex industry has failed to make it safer and only encourages prostitution. During the inquiry the Government has restated its support for a legalised sex industry, but admits the system is not perfect and can be improved. ACL spokesman Nick Jensen says the ACT should instead adopt the Swedish model where sex workers are protected and the act of buying sex is illegal.
The ACT Government was ''complicit'' in sexual violence against women when it accepted licence fees for brothels, a Legislative Assembly Committee heard yesterday. Anti-prostitution campaigners told the Justice and Safety Committee that there was no reason to believe that the ACT's brothel trade was less infiltrated by organised crime than in other jurisdictions. The committee also heard from the Australian Christian Lobby, which continued its argument for the criminalisation of men who pay for sex, and from the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, which advocated education campaigns to change behaviour.
Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings has reassured investors that her minority government remains stable after former premier David Bartlett quit cabinet, becoming the second minister to exit in three days. Mr Bartlett, who resigned rather than take on extra ministerial duties in a reshuffle, became the third senior cabinet minister to exit the Labor-Greens power-sharing government in the past six months. The decision, prompting opposition demands for a fresh election, came as Ms Giddings said the federal budget revealed a further $343 million loss of GST revenues to Tasmania, bringing the "black hole" in state finances to $1.5 billion.
School chaplains and religious groups have welcomed $222 million in extra funding to the National School Chaplaincy Program, but not everyone is pleased with the budget boost. In 2007 the Howard government introduced federal funding for chaplains to work in schools, with the proviso they were not to push religion onto students. But critics of the program say chaplains have no place in public schools, and there is evidence they are encouraging vulnerable students to join religious activities and prayer meetings. Minister for School Education Peter Garrett says the funding will provide for the 2,700 schools that currently have a chaplain and allow up to 1,000 additional schools to access a chaplain.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to approve the ordination of openly gay church leaders, becoming the fourth mainline denomination to do so. After a vote late yesterday, the protestant church decided to remove the requirement of its leaders to live "either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman" or in "chastity in singleness". The new language, replacing the chastity clause in the church's constitution, will now require ordained ministers, elders and deacons to "submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life".
The Salvation Army has cautiously supported elements of the 2011 Federal Budget, welcoming measures to increase workplace participation and funding to mental health services, but with some concerns related to compliance and benefit cuts to the disadvantaged. Salvation Army spokesperson, Major Kelvin Alley said: “We welcome initiatives to increase mental health support and the additional allocation of Emergency Relief funding. We also embrace measures to increase workplace participation.
The Arab Spring has not been kind to Egypt’s Christian minority. Over the weekend, Muslims apparently incited by Islamist hardliners again terrorized Coptic Christians, in what is now a pattern of attacks against them and their churches. Possibly the Islamists are jockeying for political power in this transitional period, or even trying to immediately effect a religious cleansing similar to the one that has happened in Iraq. Copts, numbering about 10 million, constitute the largest Christian group and the largest religious minority in the Middle East. Their size will likely prevent an escalating persecution of them from going unnoticed for long in the West.
At least 50,000 sole parents with teenage children will be financially worse off, even if they are working, as a result of new welfare-to-work measures announced in the budget. The chief executive of the National Council on Single Mothers and their Children, Terese Edwards, described the measure, as ''harsh, mean-spirited and unnecessary''. From January 1, 2013, the mothers of children aged 12-15 will be moved from the parenting payment single to the Newstart allowance, resulting in a loss of $56 a week. The measure will apply even when sole parents are already fulfilling participation requirements by working at least 15 hours a week. Instead of being able to combine part-time earnings with a part parenting payment, they will be entitled to a portion of the much lower Newstart allowance.
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