PARLIAMENT NEEDS TO FOCUS ON CONSEQUENCES OF CHANGING MARRIAGE
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Managing Director Lyle Shelton has expressed disappointment at the number of politicians claiming to have reconsidered their position on same-sex marriage and are now supporting a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry. Mr Shelton said that changing the definition of marriage will result in the loss of freedom of conscience and the rights of children to know who their biological mother and father are. Mr Shelton said a proper debate in Parliament about the consequences of same-sex marriage might cause parliamentarians to think again. “There are big consequences for children and freedom of conscience that flow from changing the definition of marriage” Mr Shelton said.
“There will always be millions of Australians who will never accept the government’s redefinition of marriage. What will be the consequences for these people if they manifest their views in speech or action? Will they be ostracised as bigots? Will they always be allowed to teach their children that there is only one true definition of marriage? “In the US people are being legally punished for exercising their right of conscience not to participate in same-sex weddings. Do we want Australia’s anti-discrimination laws used this way?” Mr Shelton said a law redefining marriage would pave the way for commercial surrogacy to be legalised in Australia.
“So called ‘marriage equality’ cannot be provided for two ‘married men’ without lifting the ban on commercial surrogacy. If two men are to have access to babies, they need access to donor eggs from women and carrier wombs. Perhaps the parliament will attach a ban on commercial surrogacy to its gay marriage bill.” Mr Shelton said a ‘marriage equality’ law would make it impossible to enact a Senate inquiry recommendation to ban sperm donor anonymity because this is unacceptable to many same-sex couples wanting families of their own. “We know from parliamentary inquiries that many people who were conceived through donated gametes have a desire to know the identity of their donor parent.
“Even the Greens supported a ban on donor anonymity at the Senate inquiry into donor conception practices in Australia. “If gay marriage is passed, what protections for children to know their identity will be provided?” Mr Shelton urged parliamentarians contemplating a change in marriage law to think beyond the slogans of equal love and marriage equality when casting their vote.
Source: Compiled by APN from information supplied by ACL
SALVATION ARMY REPORT FINDS POOREST FAMILIES LIVING ON LESS THAN $18 A DAY
A national survey undertaken by the Salvation Army has revealed shocking rates of poverty with survey participants surviving on an average of less than $18 a day, after covering housing costs. The survey of 2400 people who visited Salvation Army centres across Australia found their average weekly income was $305 but they spent $180 on accommodation, leaving just $125 to cover all other expenses including food, transport, clothing and utility bills. Across all households, those on the Newstart allowance had the least money after housing costs, with childless couples managing on just $9.57 a day. The survey found circumstances were deteriorating for many, with 56% of respondents reporting their financial situation was worse than last year.
Welfare groups are increasingly filling the gap when people cannot afford basics such as food and clothing, according to Salvation Army spokesman Major Bruce Harmer. “It is almost impossible to live off that amount of money,” he said. “Many people who live with disadvantage have now factored in help from organisations like the Salvation Army. They may call on more than one of them weekly or fortnightly because they have no other choice.” An estimated 2.5 million Australians live below the poverty line, including 603,000 children. The survey found that two-thirds of parents were unable to afford children’s activities or an internet connection and one-third could not provide fresh fruit and vegetables for their children each day.
Dental treatment was out of reach for 68 per cent of respondents and 37 per cent could not afford to see a doctor. Skipping meals and defaulting on utility bills were common. Major Harmer said he was concerned by the prolonged deprivation experienced by people in the survey. “In many ways they are trapped in a prison of poverty,” he said. “There are no bars, there are no locks, there are no guards but they certainly can’t escape. The longer you spend in that dark place, the harder it is to climb out and get yourself back on that even keel.” The report will be sent to the federal and state governments, with Major Harmer hoping it will encourage welfare reform.
TAX LAWS SHOULD NOT BE USED TO PUNISH ONE-INCOME FAMILIES
The tax system should not be used to “punish” families with a stay-at-home parent, church leaders have declared, saying sole-breadwinner families are disadvantaged as they do not have access to two tax-free thresholds. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has warned there is a danger that tax laws focused on lifting workforce participation could be a disincentive to having children. “Many Australian families rely on one parent for most of their income,” the body says in a submission to the government’s tax review. “These families are disadvantaged by the tax system because they do not have access to the two tax-free thresholds available to families with the same total income, but two income earners.”
The submission asks whether there are more equitable ways to tax single-income families, noting that people who don’t have alternatives such as trusts to help them income-split are disadvantaged. Treasury’s tax discussion paper noted that people could use trusts or private companies to split income, though this was not straightforward. FamilyVoice, a Christian lobby group, has told the tax review to look to France, which has a “family quotient” system that is effectively tax-splitting. But the National Foundation for Australian Women has told the tax review that economic evidence showed that income splitting reduces workforce participation among secondary income earners.
PRAYER URGENTLY NEEDED TO SHAPE DEBATE AND VOTING OUTCOME ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
With the recent referendum in Ireland approving same-sex marriage in that country, and the recent handing down of a decision by the United States Supreme Court to legalise same-sex marriage in that nation, intense pressure is arising to achieve the same results in Australia. The Australian Prayer Network along with numerous other prayer networks/ministries across Australia are calling on members to engage in persistent faith filled prayer to uphold the current definition that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. It is possible that the issue will be voted on when the Parliament resumes in August after the winter recess.
We urge member Churches, prayer groups and individuals to make this matter one of the subjects that you pray for in your daily devotions/prayer time. Whilst there is much behind the scenes lobbying of our Parliamentarians by Christian ministries and Church leaders taking place, this must be backed up by passionate, faith-filled and persevering prayer if it is to be effective in turning the tide on this issue. Please remember in your prayers that same-sex marriage, with the protection of anti-discrimination laws, take away religious freedom and freedom of speech. In other words once same-sex marriage is legalised, anti-discrimination laws will prevent Christians from speaking out against it publicly (even in Church).