More than 10,000 Tasmanian families recently received a 10-page pastoral letter Don’t Mess With Marriage. The booklet, published by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, provided a thorough explanation for the church’s opposition to marriage equality and was distributed in Tasmania by the Hobart Archdiocese. Transgender rights activist Martine Delaney, who has been endorsed as the federal Greens candidate for Franklin, has lodged a complaint against the document with the Anti-Discrimination Commission. She said the letter was in breach of Section 17 of the Anti-Discrimination Act which stated it was an offence to offend or humiliate on the grounds of sexual orientation. Ms Delaney said implying same-sex attracted people were not ‘‘whole people’’ and writing that ‘‘messing with marriage’’ was ‘‘messing with children’’ was incredibly hurtful. 

Archbishop Julian Porteous said the pastoral letter clearly condemned any form of unjust discrimination and affirmed the dignity of all human beings. “‘In order to assist the Catholic community in Tasmania to better understand  why the Church has sought to defend the current legal definition of marriage, I asked Catholic Schools in Tasmania to distribute this booklet to parents with children in our schools,’’ he said. ‘‘I am aware that there are some in society who would seek to silence the Church on this issue, and indeed prevent Christians expressing their beliefs in the public square on important social issues. ‘‘Increasingly they are trying to manipulate anti-discrimination legislation to achieve this end.’’ Ms Delaney argued Australian society was secular and that in some instances religious freedom must give way to law.


Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the reporting of Archbishop Porteous to government authorities for speaking up for marriage between one man and one woman should be of concern to all freedom loving Australians. Mr Shelton said regardless of where people stood on the marriage debate, no one should be reported to an anti-discrimination commission for their views. He said Archbishop Porteous would now have to go through a mandatory process to respond to the allegations against him. “This is particularly chilling considering all he did was distribute Catholic teaching on marriage to parents of children enrolled in Catholic schools. The booklet in question is respectful in tone and explains why changing the definition of marriage takes away rights of children” Mr Shelton said.


Archbishop Porteous is right to point out that the action taken against him is a threat to free speech in Australia. “Across the few countries which have redefined marriage, this is what we see. People who will always believe that marriage is the gender-diverse institution that binds the love of mother and father to their children are attacked and run out of polite society”, Mr Shelton said. “A view cannot be bigoted if it is based on defensible reasoning. It might be a different view, one some people don’t agree with, but it is not bigoted and those who hold such a view should not be punished by the law.” “Archbishop Julian Porteous’ booklet was reasonable, based on careful arguments, and respectful. Not only that, but it actually defends the law of the land. 

“If the marriage law is to change, then in combination with anti-discrimination laws, it will be a very powerful weapon to silence dissenters and punish good citizens for being  ‘bigots’ and ‘haters’.” Mr Shelton said it was particularly concerning that the leader of the political lobby to change the definition of marriage, Australian Marriage Equality’s Rodney Croome, had urged people to report Archbishop Porteous to Tasmania’s anti-discrimination commission. FamilyVoice Tasmania State Director Jim Collins called on Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks to reject the complaint. “The booklet doesn’t malign anyone,” Jim Collins said.  “It simply and respectfully reiterates the orthodox Christian view on marriage and family – and reinforces our current laws on marriage.” 

Mr Collins said that while some may not agree with the Church’s view, attempts to stamp out freedom of speech on key social issues like this are a worrying trend. “Like any democracy, Australia works best when we allow a wide range of voices to co-exist,” he said.  “That is true tolerance. Why Martine felt compelled to do this, I’m not sure.  Some might say it is a cynical publicity stunt to boost her local political aspirations.  I hope not. But if we cannot allow a Catholic Archbishop to promote church teachings among those who’ve chosen to be part of the Catholic school system, where on earth will it lead us as a society?  Using the anti-discrimination process as a big stick to quash an important debate like this goes against Australian values and our democratic process.  The Anti-Discrimination Commissioner needs to send a clear pro-freedom message to Tasmania, and the nation, by rejecting this complaint,” Mr Collins said. 

Archbishop Porteous admits he has copped flak but defended the move to distribute the booklet. In a video message Archbishop Porteous said reaction to the booklet has been mixed. “I have received many emails and personal words of thanks from parents,” he says in the recording. “I’ve also received some criticisms for my action.” But the archbishop stood firm. “I understand that some parents have disagreed with what I’ve done. I am simply fulfilling one of my roles as bishop, and that is to be the official teacher of the Catholic faith.” He described the booklet as a “positive contribution” to the marriage debate. “It outlines why the church stands by the official definition of marriage as found in our laws.” The archbishop said “The church does seek to serve people and the society by presenting its understanding of what marriage and family are intended to be, and this is based on what the sacred scriptures teach.”


Source: Compiled by APN from various reports

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A smouldering fire in a timber pump-house deep underground led to one of the greatest mine disasters in Australian history. It also led to one of the greatest rescues—a triumph of human determination and cooperation. Just over a century ago, on 12 October 1912, the day’s shift of copper miners headed deep into the bowels of Mt Lyell in Tasmania. Forty–two of the men would never make it topside again. When the fire started, nearly a hundred workers were trapped below it. Unable to find a passage to the surface, they urgently needed breathing equipment to have any hope of surviving. And the nearest suitable gear was in the gold–mining towns of Bendigo and Ballarat on the far side of Bass Strait. Breaking all existing shipping and railway–speed records, the breathing apparatus reached Tasmania’s West Coast in time to save over fifty miners who were finally brought to the surface four days later. 

Many people across Australia who’d prayed for the men were grieved at the tragic losses. A Royal Commission was ordered into the safety practices at the mine. Eighty years later, a mine manager on the other side of Tasmania came to the conclusion that Royal Commissions are not the answer to workplace health and safety. The law of the land is no match for the law of love. Bob Mellows, manager at the Cornwall coal mine in the Fingal Valley from 1991, convinced both his employers and his subordinates their dangerous workplace could be vastly safer—providing they treated each other differently. He looked to the teaching of Jesus: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Luke 6:31) Exploring Jesus’ teachings on love, Bob Mellows shared his understanding of Scripture with the mine–workers. 

In 1998, he said, ‘It is not because of legalism that Jesus Christ told us to love God and love one another. It was because he knew it was essential to our well-being in all aspects of life.’ He went on to say, ‘The Foundation of Safety is loving one another, and ourselves.’ In the decade between 1980 and 1990, about 200 accidents a year had been reported at the Cornwall Mine. Management had annually made steep compensation payouts throughout that time. But when Bob Mellows’ Scripture–inspired values were taken on board, the accident rate plummeted. By 1993, it was almost zero. It has remained there for well over a decade. Stephen Baxter, another Tassie Christian, had this to say: ‘Here we see a clear picture of how the values of Jesus work in the real world, and the result when one person takes Jesus seriously and becomes salt and light in the community.’


Occupational health and safety is a deep concern of many employers—partly because of laws surrounding workplace safety. Partly too because accidents are costly to companies, both in terms of insurance increases, time lost, equipment damaged and workers hurt. Bob Mellows was able to bring an entirely new perspective to this issue when he pointed out Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth, knew about physical toil and manual labour. And He never suggested governments could legislate that we care about each other in the workplace—or anywhere else for that matter. Only His law of love can change our hearts to make that a reality.


Source: Information provided by Associate Professor Stuart Piggin

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Australia’s top surgeons are pushing to keep 10.00PM bottle shop closures following a nine per cent drop in assaults across NSW since the measures were introduced. But the alcohol industry is fighting for later opening times in country areas to help local businesses retain profits. The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ trauma committee believes the societal benefits are worth more than any bottom line affected by the new measures. “There are at least 10 per cent of spouses and significant others who have not been assaulted, so many police who have not been needed to be called out and there is so much societal benefit,” committee chair Dr John Crozier said. “That more than offsets any financial penalty to the publican. These measures aren’t draconian, they are not curfews and they are not unreasonable.”


The NSW government is currently reviewing the 10.00PM takeaway sales ban which was introduced as part of measures to combat alcohol-related violence after the deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie. One submission from the Liquor Stores Association NSW argues regional bottle shops should be allowed to nominate 12 days on which they can sell takeaway alcohol until midnight. It also questioned why the ban was ever introduced when the rate of alcohol-related violence across the state had been in decline for six years. “This was a one size fits all approach was a blanket measure and punished responsible licensees and patrons.” The state’s top crime statistician, Dr Don Weatherburn, said earlier closing times of bottle shops along with other drinking restrictions were “fully attributable” to the nine per cent fall in assaults across the state between February and December 2014.


“It’s helped reduce assault right across the state,” said Mr Weatherburn, the director of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. He said it was a matter for people and the government to decide whether the restriction on drinking was too high a price to pay for reduced violence. “It’s really a matter for the government on whether they want to preserve that nine per cent reduction in assaults or whether they think the restriction on drinking is too high a price to pay for it,” he said. Dr Crozier said the bottle shop measures were a reasonable control that gleaned significant benefit. “The college is very keen to move quickly to lend strong support to retaining the whole-of-jurisdiction 10.00PM liquor sales restriction.” The government review on take-away alcohol sales will first examine the impact on regional areas and then look at the effect on metropolitan areas in February next year.



Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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