Thursday 6 September 2012
The Prime Minister’s decision to withdraw from the Australian Christian Lobby’s national conference is based on inaccurate media reporting and misrepresentation by gay activists.
Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Jim Wallace said the decision would come as a deep disappointment to Australia’s Christian constituency.
“This is a victory for the relentless campaign of demonization against anyone who would challenge the gay activists’ agenda in the public square.”
Mr Wallace said at no stage did he say that “smoking is healthier than gay marriage”, as reported by some media.
“What I did say is that heterosexual sex and homosexual sex are different and have different health consequences. They should not be packaged the same way as marriage because, as just one of many reasons, they are different.
“If we warn against smoking because it carries health dangers, we should also be warning young people in particular about activity which clearly carries health risks,” Mr Wallace said.
“The experience in places like Massachusetts is that it is very difficult to have this conversation where the lifestyle is held to be the equal of marriage.”
Mr Wallace rejected the characterisation of himself and the ACL as heartless.
“This is a blow to free speech of which there will be even greater pressure if the definition of marriage is changed,” Mr Wallace said.
“It is disappointing that the Prime Minister has acted so hastily on the basis of misreporting and false information from gay activists.”
“Although Ms Gillard has declared her own lack of religious belief, we appreciate the fact that she went out of her way to engage with the Christian constituency during a frenetic election campaign and has also acknowledged the importance of Australia’s Christian heritage,” ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said today.
“Ms Gillard has also made strong commitments on a number of issues of concern to Christians, including her decision to continue and expand the popular school chaplaincy program, her commitment to retain the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, and her support for ISP-level filtering of Refused Classification material. These are commitments she made clear would not be traded away in negotiations with the Australian Greens,” Mr Wallace said.
“Also very welcome have been Labor’s commitments to continue to tackle homelessness as a national priority (with the goal of halving homelessness by 2020), to work to close the life expectancy gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, and to continue to increase foreign aid funding,” he said.
“We look forward to liaising closely with the newly-elected Labor Government on a wide variety of matters ranging from lifting people out of poverty both in Australia and overseas, to addressing the sexualisation of children and promoting the health of families.”
Mr Wallace also conveyed the ACL’s commiserations to Tony Abbott and the Coalition on their election loss.
“They fought a solid campaign and it has been good to see the Coalition become reinvigorated under Tony Abbott’s leadership – particularly given the importance of having an effective Opposition in a democratic society.”
He added that it was encouraging to see the willingness with which both sides of politics engaged with the Christian constituency during the 2010 Federal election.
“We appreciated the attendance of both Mr Abbott and then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at our Make it Count event which was webcast live to churches throughout Australia on June 21, and also Julia Gillard’s willingness to made a video address to Christians and respond to the same questions on August 6. We also welcomed the responsiveness of both major parties and most minor parties to our election questionnaire on issues of concern to Christians.”
Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan on 0408 875 979
While ACL had concerns with aspects of the former Howard Government’s policies towards asylum seekers, ACL did support off shore processing for the same reason it welcomes the Gillard Government’s announcement yesterday, ACL Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton said.
“ACL also welcomes the Opposition’s proposal to increase the opportunities for refugees applying for refugee status offshore,” Mr Shelton said.
“Genuine refugees languishing in refugee camps should not be disadvantaged because they cannot afford to pay a people smuggler.
“The nomination of refugees to Australia should not be by criminals in Indonesia and there should be no financial reward for these people.
“Too many people have died through this trade in lives on leaky boats,” Mr Shelton said.
Australia’s policy towards asylum seekers must strike a balance between compassion an orderly humanitarian program for refugees.
Any off shore processing of asylum seekers must be humane and expeditious so that genuine refugees are re-settled in to Australia quickly and that those who are not found to have a genuine claim are returned home quickly.
“We expect that those who are processed off shore to be processed as quickly as possible and that women and minors particularly be detained for as little a time as possible.” Mr Shelton said.
ACL also welcomed the Opposition’s proposal to enable church and other groups within Australia to directly sponsor refugees over and above the official program.
“Allowing church and community groups to extend generosity in this way will make a real difference to many lives,” Mr Shelton said.
For release June 30, 201o
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s commitment to marriage between a man and a woman.
ACL National Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton said that both major parties have shown a long-standing commitment to ensuring marriage remains exclusively between a man and a woman, and it is pleasing to see Ms Gillard state her personal commitment in this area.
“Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had been active in supporting marriage and we very much welcome Julia Gillard’s clear expression of support for marriage as being between a man and a woman,” Mr Shelton said.
“We hope she will also confirm her support for other key issues championed under Mr Rudd, such as tackling homelessness, increasing our overseas aid and addressing indigenous disadvantage.”
Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan 0408 875 979