Campaigns - Action needed!
This section contains information about current campaigns relating to matters such as proposed legislation, government inquiries, television programs and so on.
For each campaign, some form of action is needed!
A description of each issue - and guidelines for suggested action - are included in each campaign topic.
'Active campaigns' are below in blog format or to the LEFT in list format.
'Completed Campaigns' are archived on a separate page and are marked with a 'C'.
The Rudd government announced a 'National Consultation on Human Rights' on 10 December 2008. That really means a discussion and debate about a federal 'Bill of Rights' or a 'Charter of Rights'.
STATUS: Submissions closed.
The Committee presented its written Report to the federal government on 30 September 2009.
More than 35,000 submissions were received and 65 public meetings were held!
It is no surprise that the 'National Consultation on Human Rights' Committee has recommended that Australia have a Charter of Human Rights and a Human Rights Act.
Attorney General Robert McClelland who commissioned the Consultation is in favour of a Bill of Rights. Labor Party policy supports the idea of a 'rights charter'. The Committee Chairman Frank Brennan has openly supported a Bill of Rights in the past.
The Committee has said there is 'no consensus' in this matter but that has not deterred them from going ahead anyway.
We are concerned at the proposals and oppose any form of a Charter or Bill of Rights.
The Committee makes 31 Recommendations - they suggest that the government recognise ALL of the 'rights' included in all of the United Nations treaties. They suggest a wide range of rights and ways of implementing them...
Senator Ron Boswell put out a very good media release reminding people that Hitler had a Bill of Rights as does Zimbabwe. Read his media release: BILL OF RIGHTS TOTALLY WRONG
Bill Muehlenberg wrote a good commentary: A Bill of Rights is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong
Read it and make comments on his website, Culture Watch.
FamilyVoice Australiaput out a media release opposing a Charter of Rights.
Please read the 31 Recommendations to see the extent of what they are proposing.
Click here for Recommendations.
MEANWHILE: Please be alert - contact your MPs to oppose any Charter of Rights.
NEW: Media Report - October 2009
Clergy unite over human rights charter
Nicola Berkovic | October 23, 2009 Article from: The Australian
"THE nation's most powerful church leaders have united in a bid to scuttle efforts to create a national charter of human rights, warning the Rudd government it could curtail religious freedoms and give judges the power to shape laws on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Catholic cardinal George Pell led a delegation of about 20 church leaders to Canberra to raise strong concerns about the impact of a charter on religious freedoms.... Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen did not attend the meeting with Attorney-General Robert McClelland on Wednesday because of a synod meeting but said he staunchly backed the delegation's views...."
George Pell had an article in The Australian opposing a 'human rights charter'.
Ideology dressed up as social justice
George Pell | October 23, 2009 Article from: The Australian
"THE Christian churches strongly support human rights and their attendant responsibilities. But religious freedom should not be eroded by stealth. The Brennan committee's report on human rights gives the government two options: an upfront charter of rights or a Trojan Horse version.
The upfront charter is the committee's proposal for a federal human rights act. Committee chairman Frank Brennan already has acknowledged that parts of this proposal are unviable and unworkable because the High Court of Australia probably won't be able to play the part the committee wants to assign it. But that's OK, the report says. The Australian Human Rights Commission, with increased powers, should be able to fill the gap.
In whatever form it comes, Brennan's charter of rights is a bad idea because it is a threat to some freedoms...."
You can actually WATCH the first three minutres of the lecture on video at the ABC website - includes a report.
Senator Ron Boswell (Nationals) has spoken out, both in the Senate as well as in a media release, to oppose any form of a Charter or Bill of Rights.
The national Consultation on human rights is drawing to a close - the National Consultation Committee, led by Frank Brennan, is due to hand its report to the government by 30 September 2009.
Bill of 'Frights' not Rights
Media Release, Senator Ron Boswell, 9 September 2009.
"A bill of rights is really a bill of 'frights'," said The Nationals' Senator Ron Boswell today when he raised the issue in the Senate during a Matters of Public Interest debate...."
Submissions closed 15 June 2009.
See ACTION section for previous details on making a submission!
The Consultation webpage - click here.
You can make your submission online - click here.
OR post it to
National Human Rights Consultation Secretariat, Attorney-General's Department, Central Office, Robert Garran Offices, National Circuit, BARTON ACT 2600.
Public meetings were held around Australia - in many cities and towns - starting 10 March in Broken Hill and going through to June 2009.
RESOURCE: One page paper to copy and distribute
A Salt Shakers paper outlining the details of the consultation and our key concerns.
A federal Bill of Rights?
On 10 December, to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights,federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland announced a "National Consultation on Human Rights". This really means looking at whether Australia should have a 'Bill of Rights'.
The government appointed Jesuit priest Frank Brennan to lead the Consultation. The Consultation Committee also includes Mary Kostakidis, Mick Palmer and Tammy Williams .
Frank Brennan was said to be 'neutral' or 'undecided' on the question of a Bill of Rights - however he was very active in various aboriginal rights campaigns including Mabo.
The Key Consultation Questions are:
* Which human rights and responsibilities should be protected and promoted?
* Are human rights sufficiently protected and promoted?
* How could Australia better protect and promote human rights?
We oppose the introduction of a federal Charter or Bill of Rights.
We opposed 'Charters of Rights' in the ACT and Victoria, because such Charters generally add additional 'rights' that particularly favour minority groups. They also give too much power to judges. Under our constitution the elected parliament makes the laws and judges make rulings accordingly.
PLEASE make a submission - in your submission you can be detailed or brief.
You might suggest - in your own words - some of the following (more ideas in the articles below):
Some politicians and media commentators have already strongly opposed the idea of a Charter of Rights. Some of them belong to the Labor Party - former NSW Premier Bob Carr is opposing a formal Charter of Rights, as is the NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos and South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson
NSW Chief Justice James Spigelman has said that Australia already has a common law bill of rights and that freedom of speech and religion, the right to a fair trial etc are already protected.
Former NSW Premier Bob Carr opposes a Bill of Rights as it gives too much power to the judiciary - and is UNCONSTITUTIONAL as it removes the final authority of the High Court to interpret the law. See his latest article on this here .
In the UK, which adopted a 'Charter of Rights' ten years ago, the Justice Secretary Jack Straw is currently talking of 'rebalancing' the Charter of Rights because of the 'interpreting' actions of judges and Tory leader David Cameron says he would repeal it!
Media commentators Paul Kelly and Janet Albrechtsen have both strongly opposed a Charter of Rights.
There are numerous groups lining up to support a Bill of Rights. New Matilda has been running a campaign calling for some time and Liberty Victoria is supporting a Bill of Rights.
Already homosexual activist groups are stating that a federal Charter of Rights might help them get new 'anti-discrimination laws' based on sexual orientation and perhaps even give them access to 'marriage'!
Freedom of speech and religion
Freedom of speech and freedom of religion could be further undermined by a 'Charter of Rights'. We already have these rights - they don't need to be 'given' to us by the state.
Some people might suggest specifically including them in such a Charter. - but trying to define these 'rights' undoubtedly ends up limiting the freedoms we already have.
ACTION: What can we do?
The Consultation Committee is asking for our 'views'.
Submissions close on 15 June 2009.
They are also holding 'community roundtable discussions'.
The Committee will prepare a Report which has to be handed to the government by 31 July 2009 .
Over the next couple of months we suggest you read some articles - from the media and Christian commentators. We've listed some of the media articles below.
We've also posted some articles opposing a Charter/Bill of Rights.
These were written when the Victorian government was proposing a Charter of Rights but many of the points made are very relevant.
Read the articles posted here - by Bill Muehlenberg, Charles Francis QC and Dr Augusto Zimmermann (plus others).
Making a submission:
Key ideas for your response - please write in your own words!
* The main thing to say in your response is that human rights ARE protected in Australia. Australia does not need any further framework to 'protect' rights. Thus we do not need a Charter of Rights.
* Don't feel you need to answer the 'questions' given - they would lead people to respond 'favourably' - by stating certain 'rights' to be protected etc!
* Give several reasons for your opposition to a Charter of Rights: addition of rights for minority groups, increased power to the judiciary, the need to promote responsibilities not rights.
Articles from Christian commentators
Ten Wrongs with a Bill of Rights, Bill Muehlenberg
Published in Salt Shakers Journal - April 2009.
Also published in Quadrant Online - December 2008.
Eight reasons why Australia should not have a federal charter of rights
NATIONAL OBSERVER (Council for the National Interest, Melbourne), No. 79, Summer 2008/09, pages 34-44.
Also posted on the National Observer website.
When rights are wrong
Dr Brian Pollard
Dr Pollard is a retired palliative care specialist - his article highlights the question of rights relating to 'euthanasia'..
Media Reports and articles:
Brennan to head human rights consultation panel
ABC Online, Australia - Dec 9, 2008
The Federal Government will appoint a four-member panel, headed by Jesuit priest and lawyer Frank Brennan, to consult with the public on strengthening human ...
Govt open to formal human rights protection
ABC Online, Australia - Dec 9, 2008
ELEANOR HALL: But first the Attorney-General Robert McClelland, this morning launched a public debate about whether Australia should have a bill of rights. ...
Critics read rights act over bill of rights panel
The Australian, Australia - Dec 10, 2008
PROMINENT historian Geoffrey Blainey has warned Kevin Rudd not to run the looming debate about an Australian charter of rights in the same narrow way Paul ...
Balance of power worth defending
The Australian, Editorial, December 11, 2008
"Experience suggests a national charter of rights would be a banquet, rather than a picnic, for lawyers.
HUMAN rights are a cornerstone of our national life, which The Australian, in common with most citizens, holds dear. We believe they are best protected by democracy and the rule of law. . ."
Commentary (full articles attached in some cases):
So, whose rights reign supreme?
The Age, Bob Carr - June 5, 2009.
Bill of Wrongs by John Izzard.
Quadrant Online - May 2009.
Legislation is not the key to human rights
John Hatzistergos | December 12, 2008 Article from: The Australian
John Hatzistergos is NSW Attorney-General
ON Wednesday, as federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland was telling the UN Association of Australia that a "human rights consultation" would be undertaken, the same topic was making news in Britain. But unlike McClelland, who described the consultation as an opportunity for Australians to "share their views on how we conduct ourselves as a community that respects its people and their rights", the latest news from London was different..."
Keep power with the people
Janet Albrechtsen Blog | The Australian, December 10, 2008
ANALYSING calls for so-called reforms should always start with a few golden rules. Follow the money. And follow the power. This week both paths lead you straight to the legal profession and to the heartland of politically driven activists. Like pigs sniffing for truffles, lawyers can smell the enticing waft of money and power in the air as they push open new legal industries. For the activists, it's about influence as they seek to move from the irrelevant fringe of political life to the centre of the action. . ."
Paul Kelly, Editor-at-large | December 13, 2008
Article from: The Australian
THE Rudd Government has pressed the button on plans to change Australia 's governance to entrench protection of human rights and minority interests by giving fresh authority to judges. The panel announced this week by Attorney-General Robert McClelland is geared to this outcome. It will mandate a bill of rights or a variation of this model, or create new mechanisms to give judges influence over the legislative process. . ."
SA Attorney General Michael Atkinson
Mr Atkinson expressed his opposition to a Bill of Rights at FamilyVoice Australia's Review meeting in August 2008.
Click here for FAVA's press release.
Former NSW Labor Premier Bob Carr
Mr Carr has expressed his concern about a federal Bill of Rights.
Here is his submission opposing a NSW Bill of Rights whilst still NSW Premier.
SUBMISSION TO THE STANDINGCOMMITTEE ON LAW AND JUSTICE
INQUIRY INTO A NSW BILL OF RIGHTS
by Bob Carr, Premier of NSW
"The Standing Committee on Law and Justice has requested me to inform it of my concerns about any proposal to enact a bill of rights for NSW. In this submission, I will outline my general objections to the legislative enactment or constitutional entrenchment of a bill of rights, rather than what types of rights should be included and how a bill of rights should apply. . ."
NSW Chief Justice Spigelman
NSW Chief Justice Spigelman has spoken out against a federal Bill of Rights in a series of lectures titled "Statutory Interpretation and Human Rights" given at the University of Queensland in March 2008.
He said that Australia's legal system already has a "common-law bill of rights".
Chief Justice Spigelman identified 18 areas the common law regarded as sacrosanct, such as freedom of speech, equality of religion and a fair trial, and said those rights were protected in the absence of a "clear statement" by parliament. He raised questions about the "proper role of the judiciary in a parliamentary democracy".
See report in The Australian - 28 April 2008.
Senator Guy Barnett has moved a motion in the Senate to remove the Medicare funding of second trimester and late term abortions.
The motion was brought up in the Senate and then referred to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee for Inquiry.
UPDATE: 14 November 2008
The Committee's Report was presented to the Senate yesterday.
The Report analyses both sides of the situation but, as expected, doesn't make a recommendation.
The Report is posted on the Committee's webpage: click here.
Click here for the FULL Report - pdf document - 633 KB.
When the Report was presented to the Senate, Senator Ron Boswell spoke in the Senate, criticising the submission made by the pro-abortion group the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance to the Inquiry.
The ARHA said it would cost the government a lot more to care for children with disabilities than the amount the government would save by removing the Medicare rebate (estimated saving - $180,000).
Senator Ron Boswell described the submission as "offensive". He told the Senate "Its underlying premise that some lives are worth less than others because they will cost too much to support, this is the kind of thinking that was typical of the Hitler regime."
Abortion cheaper than care, says Reproductive Health Alliance
AAP, Herald Sun, November 13, 2008
"A REPRODUCTIVE health lobby group has told the Senate Medicare funding for late term abortions is cheaper than funding disability care. . ."
Disabled baby abortion call angers MP
The Age, November 13, 2008
Following the passing of the federal 'cloning' bill, in December 2006, to allow the creation of embryos for embryo stem cell research, the state governments introduced similar legislation to mirror the federal law. Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, NSW and Queensland.
By April 2009, all states had considered such laws. All states except Western Australia passed the laws.
The federal legislation continues to ban reproductive cloning (ie leading to the birth of a baby from such processes) but allows the creation of embryos by SCNT (somatic cell nuclear transfer). The Bill was called "Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006".
The theory is that it takes genetic material from a donor and implants that into a donor egg from which the genetic material has been removed (leaving the outer 'shell' of the egg). After several days of the embryo developing it is killed when the stem cells are removed.
Since the process involves the creation and then the destruction of life we believe as Christians that the process is unethical and should not be allowed.
Adult stem cells have already been used to find over 70 cures and treatments whereas embryo stem cells have been used in NO treatments. Click here for the latest results and studies.
As part of the campaign we asked that people, as well as opposing the total bill in each case, also ask specifically that the use of eggs from aborted babies NOT be allowed and that hybrid animal-humans not be created.
The use of eggs from aborted babies was allowed in the federal law and is an abhorrent practice. The creation of animal-human hybrids was banned federally but the UK government is considering allowing such experimentation.
No Human Cloning
For more information see the website set up for the federal debate in 2006 -
Lots of really helpful information and articles!
Around the States:
Several articles appeared in The Advertiser that the South Australian government was planning a similar bill. Eventually a Bill was drafted.
The South Australian House of Assembly debated and passed this legislation in October 2008.
SA is the last state to debate such laws. The Bill allowed the use of cloning to create embryos which are then destroyed to obtain their stem cells for use in research.
The WA government introduced a bill very similar to
The Bill is posted on the web. Click here.
In November 2007 new research (
Read a report in New Scientist .
Human skin 'reprogrammed' to form stem cells
20 November 2007.
Following that new development,
The House of Assembly passed the bill to allow cloning of embryos for research on 24 October 2007 by a vote of 15 to 9.
The Bill passed the Legislative Council on 14 November 2007.
Cloning Bill passes Tas Lower House
ABC, 24 Oct 2007.
The bill was expected to pass the Legislative Council, with estimates of voting given as 11 in favour to 3 against. It was adjourned to discuss amendments.
Cloning Bill passes Legislative Council
ABC , 14 Nov 2007.
Bills already passed:
The Queensland Legislative Assembly passed a bill - the Research Involving Human Embryos and Prohibition of Human Cloning Amendment Bill 2007 - to allow cloning of embryos on 11 October 2007 by a vote of 48 to 34.
Click here for the Minister for Health's media statement.
Click here for the Bill.
The Victorian government has PASSED a bill allowing the creation of embryos by 'therapeutic cloning' for embryonic stem cell research.
Health Minister Bronwyn Pike introduced the "INFERTILITY TREATMENT AMENDMENT BILL 2007" on 13 March 2007.
Click here for the Bill.
Click here for the revised Act following the passing of the Bill.
Legislative Assembly: The Bill had its second reading and was debated in the Legislative Assembly on 17 April. The Assembly passed the Bill 58 to 25. Proposed amendments - for example to BAN the use of eggs from aborted babies - were defeated.
Media Report of Legislative Assembly vote:
House supports cloning bill
The Catholic archbishop Denis Hart and the Anglican Archbishop have both spoke out strongly and urged the government not to pass the law.
On 3 May 2007, the Legislative Council voted 23 to 16 to approve the Bill
Stem cell bill clears upper house
The Age, 4 May 2007.
New South Wales
The NSW Parliament has passed a bill to allow 'therapeutic cloning'.
Click here for the Parliament website on the Bill and its progress/vote. It was passed by the Legislative Assembly on 7 June 2007 and by the Legislative Council on 26 June 2007.
The Western Australian Government released a draft Human Rights Bill during 2007. A consultative committee called for submissions by 31 August 2007.
One report says that the draft Human Rights Bill "draws on both the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT) and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006".
Salt Shakers opposed the introduction of BOTH these laws.
The official WA government website says the bill is planned in order "to foster a human rights culture within the community and Government".
It says "A consultation committee, chaired by Fred Chaney AO, will consult with the community and recommend to government on how best to protect and promote human rights in this State."
Click here for the official website.
The draft bill and Discussion Paper are posted on this website.
Dr Augusto Zimmermann has written an excellent paper opposing the Human Rights Act. He is now lecturing in law in WA.
UPDATE: May 2008
The Consultative Committee completed a detailed report and published it in December 2007.
The WA Attorney-General Jim McGinty has said the WA government will not proceed with introducing a Human Rights Act at present.
Instead they plan to wait until the national consultation on a federal Bill of Rights is completed!
REPORT: Click here to read the 400 page Report. Full report 3.7 MB.
This page goes to an index where the Report can be downloaded.
MEDIA RELEASE: Click here to read the Attorney-General's Media Release.
As an archive, the ACTION proposed for August 2007 submissions follows...
ACTION: Make a submission by 31 August 2007. . .
Please make a submission to the Inquiry - opposing the introduction of a 'Human Rights Act'.
You can make a 'submission' or answer 8 questions online.
Click here for FULL details of making a submission (letter).
(Postal address at the previous link.)
Information and Articles to HELP you...
Articles and information about opposing the introduction of a Human Rights Act or Charter of Rights is posted on our website (from when we opposed the Victorian Charter of Rights). Click here.
Information about the debate on the Victorian Charter of Rights and Responsibilities Act is posted here.
Senator Bob Brown has proposed a private Senator's Bill to repeal the Euthanasia Laws Act which overturned the NT euthanasia law in 1997.The Bill is called the "Rights of the Terminally Ill (Euthanasia Laws Repeal) Bill 2008".
Details of the Inquiry and some suggestions for a short submission follow...
Details of the Inquiry and Bill
Senator Bob Brown has proposed a private Senator's Bill called "The Rights of the Terminally Ill (Euthanasia Laws Repeal) Bill 2008".
The Senate has referred the Bill to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for inquiry and report by 23 June 2008.
SUBMISSIONS are DUE by Wednesday 9 April 2008.
Please send a submission to the Inquiry by Wed 9 April - opposing the repeal of this law -and opposing Senator Brown's Bill.
Send to Committee Secretary, Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Department of the Senate, PO Box 6100, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600.
Further links are available on the Inquiry website:
Information about the Inquiry
Writing a Submission
MANY of the submissions the Committee has received are short letters from people supporting euthanasia and wanting Senator Brown's Bill to succeed.
For example, this one is just six lines! It is from a lady who is a member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, asking for euthanasia to be legal.
Dr Brian Pollard, who was a palliative care specialist at Concord Hospital, has an excellent submission submission opposing the Bill. He highlights the flaws in the original Rights of the Terminally Ill Act, 1995, N.T. (ROTI) - which would be restored if Senator Brown's Bill was passed.
Read it by clicking here.
An interesting interview with Dr Pollard 'Safe legalised euthanasia is a myth' is here.
It is VITAL that we write to the Committee:
Some suggested arguments - use your own words....
1. We do NOT support euthanasia.
2. True dignity is found in valuing the life of all people and not allowing euthanasia.
3. Palliative care is the answer for terminally ill patients - not euthanasia.
4. Euthanasia schemes overseas (eg The Netherlands) have resulted in people being euthanized against their will: See overview.
4. Life is sacred and our days are numbered by God, not man.
5. We oppose Senator Brown's Bill which seeks to overturn a Bill passed by the federal Parliament.
Andrew Lansdown of Life Ministries writes about euthanasia
If people were dogs & other false arguments for euthanasia
SEND your Submission/Letter by Wed 9 April 2008.
Many groups and individuals are concerned about the religious vilification law in Victoria. The cases that have been brought so far in Victoria show that the law has NOT brought harmony to the State - in fact it encourages DISHARMONY.
Truth is not a defence, motive is irrelevant and one has to 'establish' that an exception applies!
1. A petition was organised, calling on the Victorian government to remove religious vilification laws... Over 28,000 signatures were collected - and presented to the Parliament at a rally on the steps of Parliament organised by the Coalition for Free Speech in 2006.
2. Further action is then required!
3. Articles explaining why vilification laws are undesirable - scroll down...
29 April 2006 - Bracks Government plans amendments to the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act
BUT the Government is only proposing MINOR amendments - and these make the ACT WORSE - not better!
The Premier said last September at a faith leaders meeting that he was considering "minor amendments" to the Act. (Click here.)
He told those present he would consider amendments they might propose - Subsequently a Statement of Concern was signed by 19 church leaders calling for the removal of all the civil provisions concerning 'religion' (leaving only the 'criminal' section).
They proposed detailed amendments.
The Premier's 'amendment Bill' does NOT address the concerns expressed by the church leaders.
At the beginning of April, Steve Bracks announced he was putting the amendment Bill into Parliament - he did this the following day.
Click for the following:
1. The Bill - Equal Opportunity and Tolerance Legislation (Amendment) Bill.
2. Second reading speech by Steve Bracks
3. Explanatory Memorandum for the Bill.
4. Premier's media release - 4 April 2006 .
These amendments were debated and voted on in May 2006.
1. Give more power to the EOC to require people to attend or provide documents when the EOC is deciding to accept or 'decline' the complaint. A $2000 fine has been added for this new requirement.
2. If the EOC 'declines to entertain' the complaint, currently the complainant can still take the case to VCAT. The amendment (as suggested by Justice Morris when he dismissed the complaint by witch Robin Fletcher against the Alpha course) is that if the person takes the complaint on to VCAT when it was 'declined' by the EOC, then VCAT will consider the case first by looking at the 'papers' to decide if it should proceed.
3. An amendment has been made to the 'Exception' in Section 11. This is the one where there is an exception for a 'genuine religious purpose' (and other reasons such as academic). BUT is has to be done 'reasonably' and 'in good faith'.
The amendment is to add at the end of Section 11
"(2)For the purpose of sub-section (1)(b)(i), a religious purpose includes, but is not limited to, conveying or teaching a religion or proselytising.".
Because this tries to specify what a religious purpose is, then the notion of criticising another religion is even more unclear. The religious purpose is even narrower!
Salt Shakers remains committed to the repeal of all the religious sections of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act.
We oppose the proposed amendments.
WE encourage people to contact their MPs in the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council to express their concern about the proposed amendments and to ask their MPs to ask for the repeal of all the religious sections of the RRTA.
Click here for MP details.
24 November 2005 - Presbyterian Church proposes amendments for the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act
BUT Government is clearly NOT willing to consider major amendments...
At a meeting of 'faith leaders' at the end of September, Premier Steve Bracks promised to consider amendments to the R & RTA - and to consult the community on possible amendments.
The Presbyterian Church, and moderator Professor Alan Harman, prepared amendments that would have (if accepted) removed the civil provisions of the Act and limited the Act to threatening physical harm.
A number of meetings are currently being held by the government with 'faith leaders'. At the meeting attended by the PCV on 22 November, the government officers suggested amending the law "requiring VCAT to determine on the papers offered in a complaint whether there is a case to answer before a case could proceed to VCAT" (as proposed by Justice Morris.)
However the government also proposed making the law MUCH MORE ONEROUS in enforcing VCAT rulings - rather than removing the unacceptable provisions of the Act.
David Palmer of the PCV Church and Nation Committee, prepared a report of the meeting they had with the government.
Salt Shakers remains committed to a full repeal of the religious sections of the Act.
NEW: Many church leaders have expressed concern about the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. However one group supporting the Act is the Uniting Church's Justice and International Mission Unit, led by Dr Mark Zirnsak. This group applied to intervene in the Catch the Fire case to support the Islamic Council of Victoria. Not all Uniting Church people support his view.
Mark has just posted an article titled "Religious Tolerance will ensure community safety".
Our response to "Religious Tolerance will ensure community safety.
Click here to read Mark Zirnsak's article.
Comments can be posted online - you need to register first.
News - March - April
The Victorian Heads of Churches have been discussing Victoria's religious vilification laws. In an article in The Age (30 March), Barney Zwartz says "All agree it is unsatisfactory, but they differ on what needs changing."
Click here for the article "Hatred law needs overhaul - churches".
See the ACTION sheet on contacting the head of your denomination to ask them to support the removal of the religious vilification laws.
The purpose of the Petition is to demonstrate to the Victorian Government the groundswell of opposition to the 'religious' sections of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.
1. Petition document
The Petition asks that the Government remove references to religious vilification in the Act to allow for unencumbered discussion and freedom of speech regarding religion and theology.
* Petition form available here
* Please print and distribute and collect signatures.
* Signatures must be on the formal petition sheet , not on blank sheets of paper.
* ONLY VICTORIAN residents can sign the petition.
* There is no age restriction.
* All petition sheets need to be returned to PO Box 6049, Wantirna, Vic 3152 by 15 April 2005.
2. Covering Letter
This sheet explains the purpose of the petition.
3. Declaration of Support
If you are an organisation, church or individual who would like to join our growing list of campaign supporters, please email, fax or post the Declaration of Support form to us.
This can be used by organisations and individuals in Victoria AND outside Victoria.
2. Further Action required
It is NOT enough just to sign the petition.
Please contact your Victorian Members of Parliament - every Victorian has three State government representatives -
one lower House (Legislative Assembly) and two Upper House (Legislative Council).
Either VISIT them or WRITE to them.
To find out who your representatives are phone the electoral commission on 13 23 26 or use the web. Click here, then enter your address to find your three Members.
ALSO write to the leaders of the parties: Steve Bracks (ALP); Robert Doyle (Liberal); Peter Ryan (Nationals).
Click here for contact details or send your letter to Parliament House, Melbourne, Victoria, 3002.
See the ACTION sheet below for all the information - print out and distribute this to EVERYONE who signs the petition!
The Agenda Behind Religious Vilification Legislation
By Professor Augusto Zimmermann
The article analyses Victoria's R and R T Act, including some of the cases brought so far along with the reasons for its implementation.
The Problem with Vilification Laws
by Bill Muehlenberg.
Ten reasons, written from a secular perspective, as to why religious vilification laws are undesirable.
Problems with Religious Support for Vilification Laws
by Bill Muehlenberg
Ten common arguments that are used to justify vilification laws. Bill responds to each of these. The ten are: 'The example of Jesus'; 'How we preach the gospel'; 'Christians should not vilify'; 'We must respect other beliefs'; 'The Sermon on the Mount'; 'Just say 'sorry''; 'Persecution is to be expected'; 'They got what they deserved'; 'Tolerance is a Christian virtue' and 'Unity and harmony must come first'.
Do We Really Need Religious Vilification Laws?
Steve Edwards, Centre for Independent Studies 'Policy' magazine, Autumn 2005.
Religious vilification laws are diminishing freedom of speech.
The article begins: "In chapter two of his famous essay, On Liberty, John Stuart Mill began: "The time, it is to be hoped, is gone by, when any defence would be necessary of the 'liberty of the press' as one of the securities against corrupt or tyrannical government." Sadly, almost 150 years after Mill's essay was published, the 'liberty of the press' is as precarious as ever, as governments impose, through vilification laws, new restrictions on what can be said...."
Steve analyses religious vilification laws, including Victoria and the Catch the Fire Ministries case, and concludes "On balance, religious vilification legislation is an ill-conceived idea that ought to be consigned to the dustbin of history at the earliest opportunity".