You are invited to attend a conference about a Christian perspective on nature conservatism in November.
The conference will run from the 14th to the 16th of November at Capernwray Lodge, Burradoo in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.
There will be discussions on questions such as: 'what are Christians to think about the conservation of biodiversity?' and 'is Christianity really to blame for the widespread loss of plant and animal species and habitat destruction (as is commonly asserted) or does the Bible actually provide us with both the obligation and motivation to protect flora and fauna?'
The conference will also provide delegates with the opportunity to:
- meet other Christians interested in biodiversity conservation
- study what the bible says about managing the natural environment
- enjoy early morning bird watching at the wetland
- plant some trees and pull some weeds
- discuss conservation management issues in the field
- see what Christians around the world are doing to conserve biodiversity
- consider the role of the church in the future of Australia’s natural environment
Full conference attendance with all accommodation and meals provided at Capernwray Lodge will cost $210 (adults), $135 (children aged 3-11) and $150 (concession for students/pensioners).
For more information and to register, visit caringforthegarden.wordpress.com
The other speaker on the night advocating for euthanasia was Shayne Higson, the lead candidate and convenor for the Voluntary Euthanasia Party (VEP), and a contestant in the next state election in March 2015.
Mr Hutt made the case against legalising voluntary euthanasia on the basis that it puts at risk the lives of society's most vulnerable - the elderly, the lonely, the sick, and the depressed.
"Euthanasia sends the message that some lives are no longer worth living, based on a subjective standard of ‘quality of life’. It tacitly encourages patients to seek death as a way out, rather than caring for them as valuable members of society," he said.
“the compassionate answer to suffering is to recognise a person’s inherent dignity regardless of their physical capacity or their mental abilities or health, and to strive to provide the best possible care for those with disabilities or at the end of their lives," he said.
He argued that crafting a euthanasia bill that provides adequate safeguards for the vulnerable and marginalised in society is impossible and that for this reason, euthanasia – for nearly two decades now – is consistently voted down in Australian parliaments.
Mr Hutt said there are three major concerns with legalising euthanasia elder abuse, creating a culture of death and the hampering of the doctor-patient relationship.
Elder abuse can come in the form of pressure, real or imagined, to die when an elderly person feels they have become a burden on loved ones. Even if most people withstand any perceived pressure, a culture accepting of a medical profession which will, at times, assist the death of its patients will inevitably create this pressure.
Euthanasia creates a culture of death by undermining the inherent dignity of human beings. Legalising euthanasia may not result in a sudden increase in suicide, but it would affirm that suicide is a legitimate way of dealing with pain.
The doctor-patient relationship is hampered because the ethical obligation of doctors is to preserve the life of their patients; you go to a doctor to get better, not to be killed.
As an alternative to euthanasia, Mr Hutt advocated for facilitating and encouraging the improvement in palliative care.
"In most cases, pain can be treated. The concept of “intolerable pain” is rarely experienced in practice if good palliative care is applied," he said.
Mr Hutt said it was great to see people taking an interest in such an important issue, which created some lively discussion amongst attendees.
14th November 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby welcomes the defeat of the NSW same-sex marriage bill 21 to 19 votes in the upper house today.
ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said it was time for state parliaments to stop using parliamentary time to debate a federal issue.
“This is the ninth bill introduced by advocates seeking to redefine marriage in an Australian Parliament since 2010. They have used up much parliamentary time and the issue has had a fair go,” he said.
“Marriage is a federal issue and the nation decided back in the 1960s to have uniform marriage law.”
Mr Shelton said it was time to move on from the issue and urged same-sex marriage advocates to let state and federal parliaments focus on governing for the common good.
“It’s time for parliamentarians to be given an opportunity to focus on things like the breakdown in child welfare with a stressed out-of-home care system or affordable housing for those at risk of homelessness,” he said.
“Each time parliament spends time debating this issue is a lost opportunity to debate policies at the heart of government – health, welfare and economic stability,” he said.
“It is time same-sex marriage advocates submit to the decisions of parliament rather than pursuing legislation by fatigue” he said.
Fifteen members of the Legislative Council spoke on the bill. Eight MLCs spoke in support of the bill while seven declared their intention to vote against the legislation. Three MLCs who had previously spoken in parliament in support of redefining marriage said they would vote against the NSW bill.
Niall Blair, Scot MacDonald and John Ajaka, all supporters of same-sex marriage, stated their opposition to the bill, saying instead that marriage laws were a matter for the Australian Parliament, not the states.
Letters from Cardinal George Pell and Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies were read out by a number of MLCs opposing the bill.
Many MLCs referred to the large amounts of emails and correspondence they had received regarding the bill.
Debate on the bill will resume in a fortnight.
NSW PARLIAMENT DEBATES THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE
By Greg Donnelly MLC
Parliament of New South Wales
28th October 2013
The battle over the meaning of marriage has clearly moved from the Commonwealth Parliament to state and territory legislatures. Having failed to get their way federally, advocates of same-sex marriage are now deliberately opening up new fronts, hoping to make a breakthrough somewhere. The proponents for changing the definition of marriage do not plan to give up and intend to continue what they see as a struggle until they get their way.
In August last year an attempt in Tasmania to create a state-based law to permit same-sex couples to marry failed by just two votes when the Legislative Council voted down the proposal. Within the last fortnight the ACT Legislative Assembly passed a bill that it believes enables same-sex couples to marry. However, the Commonwealth Government is currently challenging the actions of the ACT Legislative Assembly before the High Court of Australia.
In 1961 the Commonwealth Parliament passed the Marriage Act to create a comprehensive and unitary legislative framework for marriage that would operate nationally. In 2004 the Marriage Act was amended to incorporate an explicit definition to clearly state that marriage was the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. The purpose of the 2004 amendment was to put beyond any doubt whatsoever the meaning of marriage in Australia.
Following on from Tasmania and the ACT an attempt is now underway in New South Wales to create a state-based same-sex marriage law. A bill to establish such a law is being introduced into the Legislative Council on 31st October. The proponents of the bill have developed an interesting argument about the bill to try and protect it from constitutional challenge. In summary, they are saying that the bill seeks to create a new form of legal relationship called same-sex marriage that is drafted in such a way that it is not inconsistent with the Commonwealth Marriage Act. They claim that the bill is capable of withstanding legal challenge.
Without addressing all the legal arguments, this proposal is fundamentally flawed because it seems to sweep aside what the Commonwealth Parliament has done to create a clear and consistent set of laws that apply to marriage. The Marriage Act was never intended to be a partial or qualified codification of Australian law relating to marriage. It was and is a national law for marriage in Australia.
Another issue worth noting is that after all the effort it took to create a national legal framework, does Australia really wish to have a situation where there are up to nine different laws governing marriage in Australia? No doubt each would be a little different creating both complexity and unnecessary legal debate and litigation.
It is important, of course, to recognise that marriage is more, indeed a great deal more than the sum of competing legal arguments. The challenge to the meaning of marriage i.e. its very definition, is now being played out before the courts. That challenge must be taken seriously. The current definition must be vigorously defended.
In truth, the current debate about marriage is not about discrimination or equality, but in fact definition. What is marriage? On the one hand there are those that believe the traditional definition of marriage, namely a union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life should be preserved and perpetuated. They believe that marriage has an innate and universal nature that is intrinsically linked to the complementary reality of manhood and womanhood and any children that may be born from such a union.
An alternate view of marriage that has some currency in our society is fundamentally different from the one outlined above. It removes the requirement for couples to be of the opposite sex and, I would argue, elevates personal fulfilment and emotional attachment and satisfaction derived by the parties, as the key elements of the relationship. Indeed, marriage becomes fundamentally an adult-centric relationship.
While it is true that politicians hold various opinions about marriage, as elected representatives they are responsive to the views of constituents. If those who do not want Australian marriage laws to change remain mute on the issue, politicians may well conclude that there is support in the community for state-based marriage laws for same-sex couples.
So do not delay. Get involved today and make your voice heard. Follow five easy steps:
- visit the Parliament of New South Wales website www.parliament.nsw.gov.au;
- click “Legislative Council” on the right-hand side of the webpage;
- click “All members of the Council”;
- send off your views. Mailed responses should be posted to: Member of the Legislative Council, c/o Parliament of New South Wales, Macquarie Street, SYDNEY NSW 2000
- ask family members, friends and others who share your views about marriage to do the same thing.
The NSW Parliament's Social Issues Committee held its first public hearings in Sydney yesterday. The Committee heard evidence from eminent constitutional and family law experts from across Australia.
University of Sydney law professor Patrick Parkinson told the inquiry the state government, "could not deliver what the [same-sex marriage] advocates want it to deliver."
Witnesses at yesterday's hearing described the serious and significant legal impediments preventing states from trying to go-it-alone on marriage laws.
A number of witnesses referred to a 2004 amendment to the federal Marriage Act which defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. They argued the federal parliament had sought to "cover the field" and there was no room for states to redefine marriage.
Last year the Tasmanian parliament rejected a bill that sought to redefine marriage in that state. South Australia is also considering similar legislation.
The NSW inquiry will hold its second and final public hearing next week and is expected to present its final report by July 2013.
Thank you to all the wonderful church leaders and ACL volunteers who helped organise and run candidates’ forums.
Some highlights from the last two forums are below.
Candidates answered a range of questions including Australia’s Christian heritage, indigenous welfare, same-sex couple adoption, youth and drugs, decriminalisation of abortion, and same-sex marriage.
The meeting was attended by Independent MP Greg Piper, Greens candidate Charmian Eckersley and Christian Democratic Party candidate, Kim Gritten. ALP candidate Marcus Mariani had to pull out at the last minute to attend to a family emergency.
Asked about recent changes to adoption law that allow same-sex couples to adopt, Ms Eckersley (Greens) said that gender should not be a ‘barrier’ to relationships or people being allowed to adopt.
Greg Piper (Ind) told the meeting, “I didn’t go into parliament to deal with these issues,” but nevertheless voted for the legislation. He described the decision to support the bill as a difficult one but said it was an “anomaly” that same-sex attracted people could already adopt as individuals but not as couples.
Kim Gritten (CDP) said same-sex adoption did not reflect “God’s model for the family.”
When asked if candidates would support the decriminalisation of abortion, Ms Eckersley (Greens) replied, “No secrets on that one. Of course I would.”
On same-sex marriage, Mr Piper (Ind) said that while he believed same-sex marriage was inevitable, he was uncomfortable with the idea. While he had no problem with ensuring that same-sex couples received the same entitlements as heterosexual couples, he believed that marriage was something between a man and a woman.
In Wollongong, candidates addressed a similar range of questions.
Greens candidate, Brendan Cook declared, “The Greens position on abortion is that it should be removed from the criminal code.” While Liberal Candidate, Michelle Blicavs said, “every life is very important from the time of conception.
Clarence Pratt (CDP) said all people, “should be given legal protection at all stages of conception.”
Independent candidate and Uniting Church Minister, Rev Gordon Bradbery said he believed, “at times there needs to be a termination. I don’t live in the ideal world that everybody else seems to.
“I am not happy [with abortion]. I do not want it.” But he said he was concerned for women’s health and did not want to see so-called “backyard abortions” taking place.
Meanwhile Wollongong MP, Noreen Hay (ALP) told the gathering, “I do not agree with abortion. I do not support abortion... Abstinence is what I would recommend.”
On euthanasia, Ms Hay (ALP) said, “I would not support it... I believe the decision [to end life] should be left to God,” and described legalising euthanasia as opening up, “a can of worms”.
Rev Bradbery expressed his concern about euthanasia describing it as, “heading down the path of being manipulated and distorted.” He called for more funding for palliative care.
Mr Pratt (CDP), a medical doctor who runs a small palliative care practice, expressed similar concerns.
Ms Blicavs (Lib) believed, “there’s a time to be born and a time to die. That decision should be made by God.” While Greens candidate Brendan Cook said euthanasia was a “very complex policy... The Greens support euthanasia. I support euthanasia.” Asked about the need to close brothels, Mr Cook said brothels were like any other workplace.
Ms Blicavs (Lib) told the meeting that while she valued the lives of female sex-workers, “it is not a legitimate career path.” Meanwhile Rev Bradbery said brothels should be regulated and supervised properly. He also told the meeting there was no need for a Kings Cross style injecting room in Wollongong.
Asked if candidates would support state-based same-sex marriage laws, Brendan Cook (Greens) said he did not believe that sexuality was “a life style choice.” The Greens, he said, are “active and enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage.”
Ms Blicavs (Lib) told the gathering she did not believe in same-sex marriage and congratulated Labor MP Noreen Hay for voting against the recent same-sex adoption bill.
Rev Bradbery said he did not “necessarily” support same-sex marriage but said, “there needs to be an opportunity for people in same-sex relationships [to] formalise their commitment.”
Labor MP Noreen Hay concluded the evening saying, “I don’t and won’t support gay marriage.”
For Release: 3rd February 2011
The NSW community’s hope the election might usher in a new era of public confidence in politics was in doubt today with the Opposition breaking a key election promise before the election has even occurred.
The Australian Christian Lobby’s NSW Director David Hutt said the Christian constituency was extremely disappointed that the Opposition had backed away from its commitment to scrap ethics classes which compete directly with Scripture in Schools.
“ACL has always said that if ethics classes are so important, they should be available to all students and that they should not compete with and undermine Scripture in Schools.
“We had welcomed the Opposition’s previous commitment to scrap the ethics classes should they win Government and we cannot understand why they have now retreated from this.
“There is now absolutely nothing separating the Coalition from NSW Labor and the Greens on this issue, although we hope if the Liberals win power they will at least amend the legislation to ensure a flawed ethics syllabus is not used to undermine Scripture.
“Many people were looking forward to having a choice between the major parties on this issue as they head to the ballot box.
“Across NSW many people have been hoping an election might usher in a new era of public confidence in State Government. This backflip means politicians will have to work even harder to restore trust with the community.”
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today welcomed the overnight passage of legislation making Easter Sunday a public holiday in New South Wales.
ACL’s NSW Director, David Hutt, said the addition of a public holiday on Easter Sunday meant more people would be able to celebrate Easter Sunday with family and friends.
“The Australian Christian Lobby congratulates the Keneally Government for this initiative,” Mr Hutt said.
“Easter Sunday is one of the most important days on the Christian calendar and it is wonderful to see that people will now be able to spend this day celebrating with friends and family.”
Mr Hutt noted that support for the changes was bipartisan, again demonstrating the importance of creating a public holiday for Easter Sunday.
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today congratulated the NSW Opposition for making a stand to protect Special Religious Education Classes (SRE).
ACL’s NSW Director David Hutt welcomed the announcement by the NSW Opposition that they will scrap the St James Ethics Centre’s secular ethics classes if they win the March 2011 state election.
“I would like to congratulate the NSW Opposition for showing leadership on this issue,” Mr Hutt said. “This decision guarantees a bright future for SRE – an important part of the NSW education system.
“Of course no one is opposed to the idea of children being taught ethics in schools however the St James Ethics Centre’s proposal was unworkable and put ethics classes – something all children should be able to attend – in competition with SRE. This meant that children attending SRE would be unable to attend both SRE and ethics classes.
“However we also have very strong reservations about the ethics syllabus. We note the Education Minister had to intervene on the eve of the trial and remove controversial material about terrorist hijackings and designer babies from the Year 5 and 6 syllabus. Many schools also banned lessons on graffiti,” he said.
“ACL welcomes today’s announcement by the Opposition. There is now a clear choice for voters on this issue in the lead up to the March election.”