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MR: PNG agreement an opportunity to reset priorities and expand refugee intake
· July 22, 2013 10:00 AM
For release: Tuesday, 23rd July, 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby says the Papua New Guinea arrangement is an acceptable response to the tragedy of deaths at sea as long as humanitarian concerns are met and it allows Australia to expand its refugee intake to areas of greatest need.
ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said there were no easy or perfect solutions to stopping the deaths at sea generated by people smugglers exploiting asylum seekers.
“This new policy hinges on a lot of complex detail which is yet to be resolved, including providing humane living conditions for asylum seekers whose claims are being processed in PNG,” Mr Shelton said.
“However, if it is successful in stopping the deaths at sea and re-settling people humanely, Australians must not be lulled into thinking that our responsibility as a nation to asylum seekers is over.
“The impasse over people smuggling has diverted both public and parliamentary attention from areas of real and pressing need.
“We must prioritise our offer of refuge to those who are proven vulnerable minorities and Syria and Egypt should be our immediate focus,” Mr Shelton said.
“Then we must look to resettle those who as a result of previous conflicts are still languishing in refugee camps – some for as long as ten years.
“There are 45 million displaced people fleeing persecution and we have a responsibility as a nation to do our part and to work with the international community to help these people regardless of whether or not the boats are stopped.
“ACL welcomes the government’s plans to increase our humanitarian intake to 27,000 and urges bi-partisan support for this. There is capacity for us to be even more generous with our humanitarian program,” Mr Shelton said.
“If people smuggling ceases, Australia will be in a position to do more to help refugees languishing in camps who had no ability to pay smugglers and any so-called PNG solution is a sensible response to people smuggling, but must be the circuit breaker that allows us to prioritise our support to those in greatest need and danger.
“In this regard Government and Opposition calls to see the Refugee Convention reviewed are timely,” Mr Shelton said.
“Its post-World War II context takes no account of the fact that people can be in equal fear of their lives from famine or natural disaster and should also be treated as refugees.”
MR: Uncertainty over marriage policy could drive voters to minor parties
· May 07, 2013 10:00 AM
For release: Tuesday, 7th May 2013
Coalition uncertainty over voting policy on marriage may force many Australians to consider minor parties who are clear on the issue at the September 14 election, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
“Upper House elections in Tasmania at the weekend which returned pro-marriage candidates showed there is little appetite for radical social policy such as redefining marriage,” ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said.
“Those supporting marriage were rewarded at the ballot box after an expensive and high profile campaign failed to unseat them,” Mr Shelton said.
While ACL had welcomed Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s clarity on the issue, it was concerned proponents of redefining marriage were pressuring Coalition candidates to support watering down Coalition marriage policy.
ACL was preparing to target key marginal seats in the lead-up to the September 14 election with leaflets to highlight the social benefits of keeping marriage between a man and a woman.
“We want to highlight to the constituency those candidates and parties who support marriage and let voters know where a candidate is in favour of redefining marriage.”
Mr Shelton said it was regrettable that redefining marriage was becoming an election issue so soon after it was resoundingly defeated in the Australian Parliament last September.
“The Parliament has already spoken but if advocates for redefining marriage are so sure of public support, why don’t they back a referendum?”
protests in France against the Hollande Government yesterday
have been motivated in part by his legislating a new definition of marriage and UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party has
suffered an embarrassing setback in local council elections
after he supported redefining marriage.
“I have great confidence in the ability of Australians, particularly under 35s, to think critically about this issue as long as an alternative view is allowed to be put in the public debate,” Mr Shelton said.
“There are consequences in redefining marriage for children, free speech and freedom of religion and this needs further public discussion.
“A referendum would be the ideal forum in which to have a balanced debate.”
MR: ACL welcomes Abbott’s clarity on marriage
· May 04, 2013 10:00 AM
For release: Saturday, 4th May, 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby today welcomed comments from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott that he did not expect the issue of same-sex marriage to come up in the life of the next Parliament should the Coalition win the election.
ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the Parliament had dealt decisively with the issue last September after a very long public debate in which MPs had surveyed their electorates.
“I think Australians are keen to move on from this issue and that they do not expect it to be occupying the time of the next Parliament, given the enormous time already spent,” Mr Shelton said.
“Uncertainty in the Coalition Party room on marriage would cause people who care about marriage to consider voting for minor parties who had a clear position,” Mr Shelton said.
“ACL commends the Coalition’s resolve to keep marriage as party policy and to ensure voting on it is the same as other important policy matters.
“Certainly amongst political realists in the Parliament there is no appetite for another debate on redefining marriage.”
Mr Shelton said there was pronounced disappointment in the Christian constituency that Labor had broken its election promise on marriage and changed its party policy.
However, he said Labor members who voted against redefining marriage could expect support from the Christian constituency at the election, although the chance of this will obviously be confused by the party position.
“It is fine for proponents of redefining marriage to keep agitating but I think there also comes a point where people should accept the verdict of the Parliament. If they can’t, they should support it being put to a referendum of the Australian people.”
MR: Voters reject push to redefine marriage, undermine protection of human life
· May 04, 2013 10:00 AM
For release: Sunday, 5th May, 2013
Tasmanian voters remain unimpressed by the Greens-driven push to radically overhaul social institutions and values such as marriage and the protection of human life.
This is one of the clearest messages emerging from yesterday’s Upper House elections, according to Australian Christian Lobby State Director Mark Brown.
“In the lead up to the elections ACL informed churches in all three electorates regarding candidate responses to some key social questions posed to them in a questionnaire. To state the obvious – those advocating radical social reform such as abortion-to-birth and redefining marriage were not elected,” Mr Brown said.
“The failure of the high-profile and expensive campaign by the left-leaning GetUp! organisation to unseat candidates who support preserving marriage should finally settle this issue.”
“It is clear, Tasmanians are tired of seeing parliament wasting precious time and money on issues like same-sex marriage and euthanasia which have already been thoroughly debated and rejected. With so many people struggling to pay the bills, stay employed, or get access to much needed health services, our current government appears completely out of touch when it comes to priorities.
“The social issues constantly been pushed by this government have only served to divide the community at a time when we need to be pulling together. Our government should be doing all it can to galvanise the community at this time not polarise it.
“The upper house schedule for the remainder of the year is clogged with such divisive social legislation - much like the MLC’s email inboxes. The Tasmanian public deserve better and expect more from their leaders and hopefully this weekend’s results will make this point crystal clear,” Mr Brown said
MR: Christian Lobby congratulates WA Premier on election win
· March 09, 2013 11:00 AM
For release: Saturday, 9th March 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby has congratulated the Liberal Party on its resounding win in the Western Australian election and looks forward to the government following through on its commitments to the Christian constituency.
ACL’s WA director Rhys Vallance said Christians welcomed Premier Colin Barnett comments regarding euthanasia, religious freedom and chaplaincy at last month’s
attended by more than 800 Christians.
“On euthanasia, Mr Barnett reiterated his opposition to creating “a legal structure that established a framework for ending a life” and Christians expect this to be honoured in the next four years,” Mr Vallance said.
“He also spoke of his support for religious freedom and faith based education when he said ‘freedom of choice, freedom of religion is fundamental to Australian society and a logical consequence of that is freedom in education’.
“On the importance of chaplains in schools Mr Barnett committed an extra $2 million dollars per year for chaplaincy if re-elected,” Mr Vallance said.
Mr Vallance said that in relation to prostitution reform in the state, the ACL would continue to lobby the government to investigate the Swedish example which criminalises the purchase of sex.
“Although the Premier refused to commit to send a parliamentary delegation to Sweden to investigate this policy, he did suggest it could be investigated when the new parliament sits,” Mr Vallance said.
Mr Vallance said the ACL was pleased to engage with both the Liberal and Labor Party in organising the Make it Count event in Perth and also in organising smaller forums for Christians to meet with their local candidates.
MR: ACL calls on Gillard Government to uphold religious freedom
· February 21, 2013 11:00 AM
For release: Friday, 22nd February 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby is today urging the Gillard Government to reject Senate Committee recommendations which threaten to dramatically undermine freedom of religion.
The parliamentary report into Labor’s new anti-discrimination laws includes a recommendation to remove exemptions and exceptions enjoyed by faith-based organisations in service delivery.
“Faith-based schools and hospitals do not discriminate, they provide a particular range of services consistent with their faith, and government must protect their ability to do that to honour its responsibility to protect human rights,” said ACL’s Managing Director Jim Wallace.
“The exemptions and exceptions in anti-discrimination legislation are protections for religious freedom, which under international law is a basic or fundamental human right.
“Former Attorney-General Nicola Roxon’s legacy is a complete confusion.
“You cannot sacrifice fundamental human rights like freedom of religion because of a desire not to discriminate. This has created an ideological soup which will threaten basic human rights,” he said.
MR: ACL welcomes end of Labor-Greens alliance
· February 19, 2013 11:00 AM
For release: Wednesday, 20th February 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the ending of the formal alliance between federal Labor and the Greens.
ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said he hoped there would never be another alliance between a mainstream political party and the Greens, which were to the left of politics what One Nation was to the right.
“The Prime Minister herself has said the Greens do not share Australian values,” Mr Wallace said. “And this is evident in the tensions that exist in the party between committed environmentalists and members of the socialist left typified by Senator Rhiannon.”
MR: Preparations underway to publically fund abortion drug RU486
· February 01, 2013 11:00 AM
For release: Friday, February 1, 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has called on the government not to subsidise the chemical abortion drug RU486.
It was confirmed this week that a meeting of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Commission in March would determine whether to publically fund RU486. This would make the drug available for around $12, much less than the current cost of $300.
The drug was approved in 2006, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) last year approved the importation of the drug by MS Health, a subsidiary of Marie Stopes International, the group now pushing for public funding.
ACL’s spokesperson Wendy Francis is concerned that the government is ignoring the rights of the unborn, as well as the mental health consequences of abortion for women.
“RU 486 is just another way of aborting babies. Ms Plibersek’s comments welcoming public funding and a wider availability of this abortion-inducing drug are deeply concerning,” Ms Francis said.
“Last year, Ms Plibersek made a speech at an event held by the Parliamentary Group on Population and Development, a group holding extreme views about aborting the disabled to save money from the disability services budget,” Ms Francis said.
Not only is the ACL opposed to RU486 because it destroys an innocent life, it is also opposed on the grounds of its potential harm to women.
“Studies into the effects of the abortion pill show that it is a more dangerous option than a surgical abortion. Let’s not forget that in 2010, a Melbourne woman tragically died after taking RU486,” Ms Francis said.
In 2011, The Australian newspaper published an article focused on a study confirming the harmful effects of the drug. In addition, the TGA said in response to Senate Estimates questions that there had been over 800 “adverse events” since the approval of the drug, including nearly 600 which required surgery to remove the poisoned embryo after the drug had failed to induce a miscarriage.
“Women facing unwanted pregnancies should be offered real support – not a chemical which is harmful both to them and their unborn child,” Ms Francis said.
MR: Belgian euthanasia deaths a warning to Tasmanian legislators
· January 15, 2013 11:00 AM
For release: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
The sad case of the death of the Belgian Verbassem twins should sound warning bells to Tasmanian legislators likely to be debating euthanasia again this year, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
The deaf twins chose to be killed by legal euthanasia after learning that they were going blind, saying they’d have “nothing to live for” should they be kept alive.
ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said their unfortunate deaths highlight the “slippery slope” experienced by the handful of countries that have legislated state-sanctioned killing.
“Where do you draw the line when what is termed “unbearable pain” is so arbitrary? Taking two years for the twins to find a doctor willing to perform euthanasia points to the fact that there were plenty of medical practitioners uncomfortable with the idea,” Mr Brown said.
Current Belgian law allows euthanasia if a patient is able to make their wishes clear and a doctor deems their condition unbearable. The Belgian government is now looking at amending legislation to also allow euthanasia of children and Alzheimer’s suffers.
“We see the same problem in the Netherlands where in a survey of 800 doctors, 20% agreed they would be willing to euthanize a patient who was “tired of living”.
“We urge the Tasmanian Government to focus its efforts toward improving palliative care not legalising euthanasia, which has been rejected time and again by fully constituted parliaments and parliamentary inquires around Australia,” Mr Brown said.
MR: ACL disappointed by federal government decision to slash foreign aid
· December 19, 2012 11:00 AM
For release: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
The Australian Christian Lobby says it’s disappointed the federal government has cut foreign aid again, the second time this year.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr has admitted the government plans to remove at least $375 million from Australia’s poverty-focused aid program to house and feed asylum-seekers in Australia.
ACL’s Chief of Staff Nick Overton said Australia’s commitment to overseas development programs should not be jeopardised by the government’s need to support refugees and asylum seekers within the country.
“The government certainly has an obligation to fulfil its commitment to asylum- seekers and refugees in Australia but to do this at the expense of poverty-stricken communities overseas is unfair,” he said.
He said it’s the second time this year the government has not followed through on its commitment to foreign aid.
“In May the government announced it would delay increasing aid spending to 0.5 per cent of GNI by 2015,” he said.
“Australia’s current commitment stands at 0.35 per cent of GNI – well short of what is needed to eradicate poverty and help developing nations implement poverty-reducing policies,” he said.
Australia was one of the 189 member states of the United Nations that had signed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 to halve world poverty by 2015.
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