This is the final Australian News for 2015. We wish all our readers a blessed Christmas, full of joy, but also with a sense of great peace that comes from being in God’s perfect will, and may your new year be full of exciting adventures with Him. Australian News will resume on Wednesday 13th January 2016.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ADVOCATE REPLACES JOE HOCKEY IN BY-ELECTION
Editors note: As you would have noticed last week one of our stories was repeated under different headings. Below is the text to the story that was missing. We apologise for our error last week.
The Liberals’ Trent Zimmerman has won the federal by-election in North Sydney despite a swing of about 13 per cent against the party. Zimmerman received 47.6%. His closest opponent was Independent Stephen Ruff with 18.7 per cent whilst the Greens were third receiving 16% per cent. Labor did not field a candidate for the by-election, triggered when former treasurer Joe Hockey quit Parliament. In his acceptance speech Zimmerman said that he was pleased with the result. “It is an incredible humbling honour to serve as your representative in the Australian Parliament” Zimmerman said. Mr Zimmerman is the current acting president of the NSW Liberal Party, and a former staffer to Mr Hockey.
He won preselection for the seat in what some party members described as a “stitch-up” because not all branch members of North Sydney were allowed to vote. In winning the seat, Mr Zimmerman has become the first openly homosexual member of the Lower House, but he did not dwell on the fact during his victory speech. “I know tonight in some ways is a very historic moment for the Australian Parliament and I’m very cognisant of that fact,” he said. During his speech, he praised Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for his “inspiring positivism”. “Can I say PM, the message I heard time and time again is residents in North Sydney are inspired by your optimism, by your positivism and the way in which you are conducting your new Government,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“I have no doubt the result tonight owes a large deal to the way in which Malcolm Turnbull is providing leadership to our country and the faith that North Sydney residents have in him continuing to do so in the months and years ahead” Zimmerman added. Zimmermann was born and raised in Sydney and has been a resident of North Sydney for the past 14 years. He was elected to North Sydney Council in 2004. In his victory speech Mr Zimmerman also paid tribute to Joe Hockey for “his incredible 20 years of service to Australia”. “I cannot think of a person who has a bigger heart than Joe Hockey and I think that we saw that in everything he did in Australian politics and we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for all he’s done for our electorate,” he said.
The former advisor to the treasurer said he strongly supported marriage equality. “I would have supported a free vote and preferred it to be decided by the Parliament,” he said. “But that’s the path we are going to go down so I will be strongly advocating, both in North Sydney and more broadly, a Yes vote for that plebiscite.” Mr Zimmerman said he was proud to have his mother and sister with him to claim victory. “Sadly my father passed away over 10 years ago and obviously I would have loved him to be here tonight because both my parents have given me my commitment to community service and the foundation of everything I sought to do in public life,” he said.
Australia is home to over 200 Indigenous Tribes and language groups. Many Indigenous groups have lived throughout the continent and the surrounding islands, for thousands of years. Aboriginal Christians have amazing life stories that show how their Christian faith has positively impacted their lives and helped shape today’s Indigenous community. For many decades, faith has helped Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities overcome significant barriers– such as addiction, illness, poverty racism and various other social deprivations such as access to education. The prevalence of mental health, substance abuse and social issues can grow out of control if the right support and assistance mechanisms are not available within local communities.
Projects such as 40 Stories, and religious groups, often provide guidance to community members who are struggling – giving them the much needed support and guidance to help develop their identity and futures. Rod Schneider (Co-ordinator of the 40 Stories project) said, “We’ve been travelling Australia – filming 40 amazing stories of how Christianity has transformed the lives of Indigenous Australians, their families and communities”. “By producing and distributing these short films, Indigenous Australians are given the opportunity to share significant personal events that have made them who they are today. Every story is welcome good news to people who are searching for hope.
40 Stories is a unique project to promote an Indigenous Australian perspective of how the Christian faith shapes daily lives. The short films of 40 Indigenous Christians from across Australia telling their stories will be released one story every day during the National 40 Days of Prayer & Fasting from 10th February to 20th March 2016. Mr Schneider said “We hope these stories will go viral on the Internet during that time. Our team believes the stories will contribute to healing and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The stories give hope that real and lasting change is possible, even in the most difficult of circumstances”. The finished films will be of broadcast quality and will be shown on television and made available via YouTube and DVD. For more information go to www.40stories.com.au
Source: Press Release from 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting
AUSTRAC SAYS THERE HAS BEEN A SPIKE IN TERRORISM FUNDING INVESTIGATIONS
Australia’s anti-money laundering agency says reports of suspected “terrorism-financing” tripled in the past year, with over A$50 million ($35.92 million) which could be used to support Islamist militants being investigated. The financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC, said in its annual report released recently that it had recorded a trebling of “suspicious matter reports” that could be linked to funding of militant groups. It recorded up to 367 reported cases in 2014-15 from 118 a year earlier. “The volume of terrorism financing in Australia is linked to the number of Australians travelling to join terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq,” the report said.
Roughly A$53 million dollars, A$11 million in cash, was reported as suspicious to the agency. The funds may have been intended to cover a variety of activities, including paying family members who died in operations, AUSTRAC said. Australia is on high alert for attacks by radicalised Muslims or by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East, having raised its threat level to “high” and unleashed a series of high-profile raids in major cities. Security analysts have put the number of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria, travelling from scores of countries around the world, in the thousands. AUSTRAC said in the report that it was monitoring around 100 people.
About 120 Australians are believed to be fighting with Islamic State and other militant groups in Iraq and Syria, with several believed by intelligence agencies to hold leadership positions in Islamic State. Australian citizens now face up to a decade in prison for travel to overseas areas declared off-limits and the government has worked to halt the flow of funds overseas. Canberra last year shut down a money transfer business linked to the family of suspected Australian Islamic State fighter Khaled Sharrouf on suspicions it transferred up to A$20 million to foreign militants. Sharrouf was killed in Iraq earlier this year.