Helping Christians to make a difference
Dealing with current Issues
Helping Christian families to make a difference
10 Nov 2014
The Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, is currently conducting a CONSULTATION on ‘Rights and Responsibilities’ – about freedom of opinion, conscience, religion and association. Mr Wilson was appointed by the Abbott government.
You can have YOUR SAY by completing the Online Survey – click here.
(Includes space to express views and give examples.)
Don’t be IGNORED or UNHEARD – others with opposing views will be having THEIR SAY!
Alternatively you can email a SUBMISSION.
You can also attend public hearings… DETAILS BELOW.
The webpage says,
“The consultation will focus discussions on some of the key rights and freedoms that have traditionally underpinned our liberal democracy in Australia. These include:
+ the right to freedom of opinion and expression
+ the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religious worship
+ the right to freedom of association
+ property rights.
Read more about the Consultation – click here.
Read the Discussion Paper – link on main webpage.
This is VERY different from much of the previous work of the Australian Human Rights Commission.
NOW is the time to have YOUR SAY!
1. An ONLINE SURVEY …
Click here to complete the survey.
The Survey CLOSES on FRIDAY 14 NOVEMBER.
“Please note that when making a submission, you are indicating that you have read and understood the Commission’s Submission Policy which can be found at https://www.humanrights.gov.au/submission-policy”
2. PUBLIC Hearings - still to occur in these cities:
Brisbane (12 Nov), Sydney (19 Nov), Singleton (20 Nov), Lorne, Vic (25 Nov) and Melbourne (26 Nov).
FULL DETAILS of CONSULTATION ONLINE at
7 Nov 2014
Our News Update includes news from the past two weeks - religion, politics and sex...
All the things it is 'politically incorrect' to discuss!
But we're not 'politically correct' here!
Read the News Update:
6 Nov 2014
In our previous email I incorrectly said that, if you vote BELOW the LINE for the Legislative Council, you need to number ALL squares. That is INCORRECT. You only HAVE to number your first FIVE preferences – but you CAN number more!
See FULL info below. Apologies for the error.
The ABC is also running a ‘VOTE COMPASS’, in association with the University of Melbourne and Vox Pop Labs. It is similar to the one provided for the last federal election.
Nearly 40,000 people have completed the ‘Vote Compass’ so far. It is a helpful tool to help you address some of the issues in the election, and see where the parties stand – they don’t
After answering 30 questions on a variety of policy areas, you can choose to answer (anonymously) questions about your political views and the Party leaders. This doesn’t affect your survey result – it is for research purposes.
You are given the RESULTS…
- You can view the POLICIES of each party in that policy area – this is quite enlightening, especially on the ‘moral issues’! See “Compare the candidates by issue…”
- You can also see a graph that highlights where your views are in comparison to the major parties!
VOTE COMPASS – click here to complete the survey.
Voting in the Legislative Council is OPTIONAL PREFERENTIAL… You only HAVE to number your first FIVE preferences below the line to make your vote valid. If NONE of your first five preferred candidates get elected then your vote ‘expires’ and isn’t counted further.
However, you can continue numbering all candidates below the line!
You can vote ABOVE the line, with a ‘1’ in the box for the party of your choice…
From the VEC website (click here):
How to vote for the Legislative Council
The Legislative Council (Upper House) ballot paper features a thick horizontal line (as shown below). You can vote above or below the line.
5 Nov 2014
The Victorian state election will be held on 29 November 2014.
During the next three weeks we will send a number of E-News emails focusing on the Victorian election. It is vital that we carefully consider our vote – and our preferences.
These emails will cover
- Information about the election process (in this email)
- KEY ISSUES for Christians – abortion law, religious ‘employment test’, Safe Schools Coalition, etc
- Christian Values Checklist
- Finding out about Party polices and candidate positions
- Other election surveys – eg the Survey published by FamilyVoice
- Preferential voting – how your preferences work / making your vote count /Group Voting Tickets
At this election, it is vital that we carefully consider HOW we vote. Voting for a smaller party FIRST will let the BIG PARTIES know that you are UNHAPPY with their performance on moral issues...
The Liberal government removed the ‘inherent requirement’ employment test for religious organisations from the Equal Opportunity Act that had been introduced by Labor – but Labor has PROMISED to RE-INTRODUCE that section!
Meanwhile, the Liberal/Coalition government has refused to change ANY part of the Abortion Law Reform Act, including the ‘doctors’ conscience clause (Section 8).
The three small Christian Parties – Australian Christians, Democratic Labour Party and Rise Up Australia Party – have signed a “public assurance of cooperation”, in which they undertook to work together to direct their respective voting preferences according to shared values rather than personal strategic advantage. If people vote for these parties FIRST, or a party like Family First, etc, before allocating preferences to the major parties, some of them could actually get seats in the Legislative Council. See more on that in this News Weekly article – and in our forthcoming email on ‘Preferences’.
The Christian Values Checklist will be published next week – allowing two weekends for it to be distributed at churches or shared with friends.
The Checklist compares the positions of a number of political parties on a range of moral issues.
The election process
Victoria has two Houses of Parliament – the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.
Each voter has one Member in the Legislative Assembly.
Voters have five Members in the Legislative Council (Victoria is divided into eight regions, each with five Members).
It has information on enrolment, voting centre locations, candidate applications, Postal voting, early voting centres (available from 17 - 28 November).,
They mention that an ‘Easy Vote Guide’ will be published: “From Monday 17 November onwards, an EasyVote Guide, with your voting details, local voting centre locations and information on voting options and how to vote, will be sent to everyone on the State electoral roll as at the close of roll.”
The CLOSING DATE for enrolling to vote – or altering your enrolment details is TUESDAY 11 November – click here for details.
In the lead-up to the election, the details of all candidates will be posted on the VEC website. You can use that information, once published, to contact YOUR candidates about their views on issues! More on that in the coming weeks…
The VEC states, “For the 2014 State election, nominations open on Wednesday, 5 November 2014, and close 12 noon on Friday, 14 November 2014.”
So the candidates’ details, along with the ballot paper order, will only be published online AFTER that time.
Voting in the Legislative Assembly
You will receive a ballot paper at the polling booth with the names of all candidates in your electorate – you must allocate a number to all candidates, in the order of your preference.
Voting in the Legislative Council
CORRECTED - 6/11/2014
You will receive a ballot paper at the polling booth with the names of all candidates in your electorate – you can either vote ABOVE the line OR BELOW the line.
BELOW THE LINE - If you vote BELOW the line, and choose your own preferences, you must allocate a number to AT LEAST FIVE candidates, in the order of your preference. If none of those candidates are elected, your vote will 'expire'... This is OPTIONAL PREFERENTIAL voting.
You CAN number ALL candidates if you wish.
ABOVE the LINE - Alternatively, you can place a ‘1’ ABOVE the line for the PARTY of your choice, and the preferences will be distributed according to the ‘Group Voting Ticket’ lodged with the VEC by that party. More on that in another email…
The five candidates who end up the highest number of votes, after preferences are distributed, will be elected for each region.
More on preferences and ‘Group Voting Tickets’ prior to the election.
3 Nov 2014
During 2014, a number of parents with sick children have actively campaigned for cannabis to be legal for medical use – including the use of ‘cannabis oil’ for children with seizures.
In NSW, people with terminal illness have lobbied for cannabis to be decriminalised for ‘medical use’.
In response to this lobbying and media campaign, various political leaders have made statements – and decisions – regarding a ‘trial’ of so-called ‘medical’ or ‘medicinal’ marijuana’.
With the Victorian election imminent, this is one of the issues we need to be aware of!
Of course, there are widely varying views on what such a trial might include – with some advocating for a trial of fully-tested cannabis ‘medicines’, whilst others want the actual cannabis plant to be legalised!
The Australian Medical Association has been very clear that they do NOT support any trial or legalisation of the ‘raw plant’ or cannabis based products or oils.
We agree that any trial should only be about medical products – NOT the cannabis plant itself. In a similar way, heroin is illegal because of its narcotic and addictive properties – but the opium poppy is also used to produce the medical drug morphine.
This is another example of 'hard cases make bad laws' - where compassion is used as an argument to change laws.
This BRIEFING provides an overview of the ‘campaign’ – and the political responses made during 2014…
The media ‘campaign’ for the acceptance of cannabis for ‘medical purposes’
Throughout 2014, families with disabled children who have been using ‘medical marijuana’ (cannabis oil) have been campaigning for legalisation of medical marijuana. And the man who was producing the ‘cannabis oil’, Tony Bower, was sent to prison in NSW…
The first case reported was that of nine-year old Tara O’Connell (reports Jan 2014 – June 2014). In July 2014 a Victorian family was investigated for giving their disabled three year old son a ‘cannabis oil’ product’. The police found out about the mother, Cassie Batten, after she appeared on Channel Seven's Sunday Night program advocating for the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes and saying they had been using “Mullaways Cannabinoid Tincture.” Other media interviews followed as the couple campaigned for the legalisation of ‘medical marijuana’.
There was so much controversy that Victoria Police even issued a statement on Facebook (21 July) about the treatment of the couple!
The Age reported, “The supplier of the cannabis oil, Kempsey, NSW-based Tony Bower, last month served six weeks of a 12-month jail sentence for supplying the tinctures before being released on appeal.”
In August, the Victorian Department of Human Services investigated the couple – the parents told the media they feared the state would take away their son. On 24 August, the DHS initiated a ‘home inspection’ related to the treatment of the son.
Victoria – Labor and Liberal respond to the issue
That media report coincided with an announcement by Labor Opposition leader Daniel Andrews that he would try and legalise ‘medical marijuana’ if elected. He said that he would refer the matter to the Victorian Law Reform Commission.
Not everyone was supportive - the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association warned about the problems, and called for ‘further research into the administration of medical cannabis amid concerns about the potential impact on lungs and psychosis’.
The mother used the media opportunity to call on Liberal Premier to legalise medical marijuana (24 August). Liberal Health Minister David Davis refused to respond, saying that ‘drug approval was a matter for the Therapeutic Goods Administration’.
But just four days later, on 28 August, Health Minister David Davis announced that the Liberal government would support a ‘clinical trial of medical cannabis’ and consider removing a prohibition on the "cultivation of narcotic plants for therapeutic purposes in the context of approved clinical trials". The support for ‘cultivation of plants’ is a concern, since the professional bodies are extremely concerned, as we are, about the use of the raw plant for any purpose.
In September 2014, Mr Davis introduced a Bill to make it easier to conduct such a trial – researchers would have to only apply for a ‘group’ of participants, not apply for each individual. He gave "in principle" support for Victorians to part of an international trial of Epidiolex, a cannabis-based pharmaceutical being tested in children with epilepsy overseas. Mr Davis again said ‘he would also consider removing a prohibition on the growing of cannabis plants for therapeutic purposes in approved clinical trials’.
Of course, that wasn’t enough for drug activist Alex Wodak. He called the plan “Nonsense” and said, “We want medicinal cannabis now”!
Of course, the use of cannabis is a long-term campaign for Alex Wodak.
He was one of the authors in a 2013 article in the Medical Journal of Australia, which called for the use of ‘medicinal cannabis’. (Read article). The article deals with pharmaceutical products, but for activists such as Alex Wodak, this is often a 'first step' in further decriminalising the drug.
New South Wales – trial of ‘medical marijuana’
In NSW, a parliamentary committee investigated the use of ‘medical marijuana and recommended its use for “selected conditions”.
Back in May, Premier Mike Baird said he might support a bill to ‘decriminalise cannabis’ for ‘medicinal purposes’ – with a private member’s Bill being proposed by a Nationals MP, Kevin Anderson, who has a constituent who is terminally ill and wants to legally use cannabis for pain relief.
In September, Mr Baird announced that a Working Group would be set up, led by himself, to ‘devise’ how a trial would be conducted. The group will report back to the NSW government by the end of the year. The group will look at issues of ‘supply and distribution’.
So does that include actual marijuana plants as well as ‘medicinal manufactured products?
Mr Baird apparently noted that the trial will consider both pharmaceutical products and ‘crude’ marijuana.
Mr Baird also said that new guidelines would be drawn up so that terminally ill patients using cannabis for medical reasons would not be charged!
Fred Nile expressed concern about the negative health impacts of marijuana, noting comments made by Professor Nicholas Talley, President of the Royal Australian College of Physicians, who said, “The legalisation of medicinal cannabis is an emotionally-charged issue. In recent weeks we have seen the political landscape shifting rapidly as moves to legalise medicinal cannabis in Australia gain momentum. But do we have enough evidence on both its potential long-term adverse effects and the short-term health benefits to fully inform our decisions? I believe the answer to that question is no.” Professor Talley supported a formal clinical trial in order to properly assess the effect of cannabis-based pharmaceutical products (source).
COAG Meeting agreement on a trial – Oct 14
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting came to an agreement on support for a trial of ‘medical marijuana’ on 14 October.
Since then the ACT has said it will participate, and the Victorian government is working on supporting a trial. The Victorian government announced they have appointed an “expert advisory committee”, chaired by Monash University Professor John McNeil which was due to meet a couple of weeks ago - so they didn't wait until after the election to implement their previous announcements!
Other states are considering their support for a trial
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has said the Queensland government will "look with interest" at the NSW trial. Importantly, he specified just what he is prepared to support: "But I stress it is about products that have been probably manufactured from extracts of the active ingredients in marijuana done properly under proper clinical trials under medical supervision."
It is important to draw a distinction between ‘medicinal cannabis’ (using pharmaceutical products) and ‘cannabis used for medical purposes’. The latter could even include people growing their own cannabis plants, which most medical groups contend has harmful effects!
- Police question pregnant mother over cannabis treatment for disabled son, The Age, 10/7/2014.
- Parents face questions over marijuana oil treatment for sick child, Herald Sun, 19/8/2014.
- Family faces DHS home inspection for using cannabis oil to treat ill son, Herald Sun, 24/8/2014.
- AMA cautious on cannabis plan, The Australian, 25/8/2014.
- Victorian government medicinal marijuana trials plan described as 'nonsense' by expert, The Age, 28/8/2014.
- Bill to remove barriers for medical marijuana trials in Victoria, The Age, 15/9/2014.
- NSW Premier Mike Baird open to supporting bill to decriminalise medical marijuana, SMH, 30/5/2014.
- NSW medical cannabis trial could expand interstate after COAG deal flags 'nationwide approach', ABC, 14/10/2014.
- Medicinal cannabis clinical trial to begin in NSW, SMH, 16/10/2014.
- NSW to run trial of medical marijuana for terminally ill patients, ABC AM, 15/10/2014.
- Qld backs NSW medical cannabis trial, The Australian, 14/10/2014.