As this is the last Australian News for 2013 we want to take the opportunity to wish all our readers a wonderful Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Jesus and ponder afresh on what His birth means to our everyday lives.  

Our next edition of Australian News will not be published until Wednesday 15th January so we also take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy and relaxed transition into 2014 which we trust will be filled with the fulfillment of many of His promises in the lives of all believers and of our nation as a whole.  

May God bless you all and thank you for your continued support throughout the past year.

Source: Australian Prayer Network



The decision will mean that about two dozen week-old marriages have no legal effect. The ACT Marriage Equality (Same Sex) laws passed the territory’s legislative assembly in October, but only came into effect last month and couples were required to provide four weeks’ notice before conducting wedding ceremonies. About 20 couples were married prior to the decision being handed down by the High Court. Had the nation’s top court upheld the ACT’s gay marriage legislation it would have opened the door to similar laws being passed across the country, pressuring the government to make it legal at a national level. 

The commonwealth government sought an expedited hearing in the High Court arguing the national capital’s laws were inconsistent with federal legislation and unconstitutional. Federal government lawyers argued in the High Court that the commonwealth marriage act was intended to ensure that state and territories did not operate as different countries when it came to determining whether a couple was married. The High Court determined that the federal parliament has the power under the Australian constitution to legislate on same-sex marriage, and that whether or not same-sex marriages are legalised is a matter for the federal parliament. 

“The Court held that the object of the ACT Act is to provide for marriage equality for same sex couples and not for some form of legally recognised relationship which is relevantly different from the relationship of marriage which federal law provides for and recognises,” the summary judgment said. “Accordingly, the ACT Act cannot operate concurrently with the federal Act.” It said because the ACT does not validly provide for the formation of same sex marriages, the whole of the ACT’s Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 has no effect. Supporters of gay marriage were dismayed at the ruling claiming the ruling was just a “temporary defeat”.

The Australian Christian Lobby said the ruling upheld the uniformity of marriage laws across the country. “Marriage between a man and a woman is good for society and beneficial for governments to uphold in legislation,” managing director Lyle Shelton said in a statement. “It’s about providing a future for the next generation where they can be raised by their biological parents, wherever possible.” Mr Shelton acknowledged that same-sex couples who thought they were married under the ACT legislation would be disappointed at the decision handed down and said it was unfortunate they were put in this position,” he said.

Several aboriginal elders spoke out about the High Court Decision to reject homosexual marriage in the ACT. Indigenous elder Peter Walker spoke out on behalf of the group of indigenous leaders. Peter Walker said, “As Aboriginal leaders, we applaud the High Court’s unanimous decision to reject homosexual marriage in the ACT. I speak from the premise of an Australian indigenous Christian leader and elder. Aboriginal people, the first nation people of Australia, have a strong culture of heterosexual marriage and have practiced marriage between male and female for thousands of years, long before white man came to this land.” 

Mr Walker went on “Homosexuality was never accepted in our culture, the change came with the introduction of western culture. Redefining marriage would change the whole meaning of marriage. This is not the true Australian way. This goes against the moral code of ethics that I have grown up with and respect. Homosexual marriage violates the laws of nature. Two people of the same sex cannot produce children, neither can two animals of the same sex. This violation of natural law and the exclusive promotion and practise of such behaviour will result in a discontinuation of both the animal and the human species.”

Mr Walker continued, “Those who propose the redefinition of marriage are intolerant of the majority of Australians who accept marriage and natural law. Those who propose the redefinition of marriage do not consider the best interests of children, who want both a father and a mother. No one can be born naturally through a homosexual relationship. Homosexuality is not genetic. Those who propose the redefinition of marriage should have the courage to put their proposal to a referendum so that all Australians, including indigenous Australians, are given a chance to make a choice and cast their vote on this important issue.”

Source: Compiled by APN from information supplied by various sources



Indigenous health has not improved at all in many areas of Australia over the past decade, data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown. The largest-ever survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health found rates of diabetes, kidney disease, asthma and osteoporosis have increased, and the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous measures has widened for smoking, psychological distress, heart disease and asthma. It follows research released that showed the gap in life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous had declined slightly, to about 11 years.

Life expectancy in Aboriginal Australia is on par with countries such as Azerbaijan, Vanuatu and Guatemala. An indigenous child born today can expect to live 71.4 years, far lower than the expected national average of 82.1 years. Indigenous smoking rates declined by 10 percentage points since 2002, but more than 40 per cent of indigenous people aged 15 and over are smoking on a daily basis, compared with less than 19 per cent of non-indigenous people. ”There’s been a significant decline in smoking in urban areas but it’s remained stubbornly high in remote areas … and it’s still a very high smoking rate compared to the non-indigenous population. 

More younger people are quitting or not taking up smoking. Among 15- to 24-year-olds, 54% have never smoked and 10% are ex-smokers.’ However, health results have worsened in other areas. Indigenous Australians are nearly four times as likely to have kidney disease and three times as likely to have high or very high levels of psychological distress. One in six Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged 25 and over have diabetes, and indigenous Australians are more than three times as likely as non-indigenous Australians to have diabetes.

Heart Foundation Chief executive Lyn Roberts said the trend was encouraging ”but when you look at the rates themselves, they are still very high”. ”With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we’re seeing high rates of diabetes, high levels of smoking, and high levels of overweight and obesity, which are all risk factors for heart disease,” she said. Citing improvements in smoking levels, Justin Mohamed, chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, said the results showed change was possible when indigenous communities were properly ”empowered and resourced”. “This shows that when we’re given control, we can win,” Mr Mohamed said. 

Lisa Jackson Pulver, professor of public health and director of Muru Marri indigenous Health Unit at the University of NSW, said the decline had importance for the indigenous community because those who had quit or never smoked would have probably grown up in households with much higher rates of smoking. ”These are people whose odds, according to all the reports, were that they were going to smoke too.  Now the stats are showing that doesn’t have to be the case,” she said. ”This is something very important for Aboriginal people, who so often get told because you’re in that environment, this is what’s going to happen.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports



The NSW Council of Churches has written to State Premier Barry O’Farrell congratulating his Government for its support of an inquiry into the social impact of gambling. The inquiry, to be chaired by the Reverend Fred Nile, will focus on the design and regulation of electronic gaming machines, access to cash and credit in and around gaming venues, the regulation of telephone and internet gambling services and gambling advertising, and the adequacy and effectiveness of problem gambling help services, public health measures to reduce risk of gambling harm, and strategies and models for consumer protection.

The President of the NSW Council of Churches, the Reverend Dr Ross Clifford, said he was delighted to hear that the NSW Legislative Council had appointed a Select Committee to inquire into these matters. “All NSW political parties supported the motion for the inquiry and so the Upper House unanimously passed the motion. This is a significant development in addressing a range of perceived problems associated with gambling,” Dr Clifford said. NSW has around 50 per cent of the nation’s poker machines, and more problem gamblers than any other state. 

NSW also has a stable government, strong political voices representing healthy and informed discussion, and the numbers needed to achieve historic gambling reform. Given the lack of political resolve at a federal level, it is crucial that NSW take the lead on sensible gambling reform. “This is a win for NSW families and citizens. We look forward with interest to the Select Committee handing down its findings and recommendations,” he said.

Source: Press Release from NSW Council of Churches