Campaigns - Action needed!

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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.
Some campaigns may have had a vote but are still 'active' as they are likely to be ongoing... 

'Completed Campaigns' are archived on a separate page and are marked with a 'C'.

Campaigns

States propose cloning and embryo stem cell research legislation

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.

Overview
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:

South Australia
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 Bill went to the Legislative Council in March 2009. The Council voted in favour of the Bill by 12 votes to 9 - see report.

Western Australia
The WA government introduced a bill very similar to Victoria's to allow cloning in early 2008. The Parliament then sat after 8 May 2007 and debated the Human Reproductive Technology Amendment Bill 2007.
The Bill is
posted on the web. Click here.

The Catholic church is opposing this bill. Where are the other churches??????
Click here for ABC news item.
Media article: Therapeutic cloning bill introduced in WA, The West , 28th March 2007.

In November 2007 new research (Japan and USA) showed that it is now possible to obtain ethical stem cells from adult tissue that actually act in the same way as embryonic stem cells. THUS there is no need any more for embryonic stem cells.
Read a report in New Scientist .
Human skin 'reprogrammed' to form stem cells
20 November 2007.

Following that new development, Western Australia's Parliament voted AGAINST such cloning laws in May 2008! Read report - click here.

Tasmania
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.
Media:
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:

Queensland
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.

Victoria
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 Age, April 19, 2007
The Catholic archbishop Denis Hart and the Anglican Archbishop have both spoke out strongly and urged the government not to pass the law.

Legislative Council
On 3 May 2007, the Legislative Council voted 23 to 16 to approve the Bill
Media Report:
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.

Western Australia - Human Rights Bill

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.

The Trouble with a WA Human Rights Act: Dr Augusto Zimmermann

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).
Send your letter to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(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.

Federal - Euthanasia Inquiry

Senator Bob Brown has proposed a private Senator's Bill to repeal the Euthanasia Laws Act which overturned the NT euthanasia law in 1997.

Bob-Brown-picture-2008-Sen-website-773525The Bill is called the "Rights of the Terminally Ill (Euthanasia Laws Repeal) Bill 2008".

 

 

The Senate has sent it to an Inquiry.
Submissions are needed by Wednesday 9th April 2008.

Click here for full details of the Inquiry (includes the bill, submissions, etc...).

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.
Or Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

________________________________________

Further links are available on the Inquiry website:
Information about the Inquiry

Information about the Bill

Submissions received

___________________________________________

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.

....................................................

More Information
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.

Campaign: To remove Victoria's religious vilification law

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...

For information on the Catch the Fire Ministries case, click here.
For more information on the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, click here.

Latest News:
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.
The amendments:
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.

1. Petition
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!

 

3. Articles

New Article:
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".

Religion, Cultural Diversity and safeguarding Australia

A ROTATING ROSTER of PRAYERS to open parliament - national interfaith services - local 'Multifaith or Interfaith Networks at Council level - a book promoting 'Muslim Australians'. . .

Happening in Australia?
Yes, they may well happen in the future if the recommendations from a series of books published by the Living in Harmony project funded by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs are implemented. The Australian Multicultural Foundation (AMF) was a partner in this production. The books were published in 2004.

The AMF has a webpage explaining the project.

The 149 page publication promoting multi-faith and inter-faith activity is a report titled "Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia".
It profiles religious activity in Australia and makes recommendations for the future.
Submissions were received more than two years ago and consultations were held. The Report was published in December 2004 but it is still vitally important for us to read the Report and understand its implications.

The Summit of Muslim leaders (August 2005) discussed some of the proposals in this Report, including the training of imams and the monitoring of what religious leaders say.

Many of the recommendations in the main report are concerning and, if implemented, would see mandated 'multi-faith' activities. Recommendations about the training of religious staff, employment by religious organisations, 'rotating' prayers to open Parliament and the teaching of world religions in schools are all promoted in this wide-ranging report.

This is an indication of where the interfaith community would like 'religion' to go in Australia.

The Report is essential reading for those who are concerned about these directions in our nation.
More details about the Report are below the ACTION section - including links to the document.

Analysis of the Report

Summary Report (one page) - 'Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia'
A one page summary report was published in August 2005.

Report - 'Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia'
Read a four page report on the key recommendations, with links to the documents.

ACTION:

When the Report was first published, we asked people to write to their MPs, expressing their concern about these proposals.
Even though these three books (RCDSA and the two mentioned below) have been out for some years, it is still important to understand what is being proposed and communicate our concerns about these proposals to our MPs and Senators.

Two of the authors of the Report, Gary Bouma and Des Cahill, are co-ordinating the Parliament of the World's Religions in December 2009 - so they are continuing to promote religious 'diversity'.

Click here for Members of the House of Representatives.
Click here for Senators.

The Report
The full Report is available at the AMF website, along with a description of the project.
Click here for the actual 149 page Report (1.35 MB).

What are the main concerns?
The whole report focuses on multi-faith activities. To name just a few, the recommendations include the opening of parliament with a rotating roster of prayers, the establishment of local interfaith networks, an annual Multifaith forum, a Multitfaith Advisory Council, the teaching of world religions in schools, the educating of those training for religious ministry in how to 'participate in a multi-faith society'!

Two Additional Reports
Two additional reports were published by the same project. Both pursue the notion of 'multifaith' activities by getting everyone 'together' to ensure 'harmony'.
The third book highlights the focus of the Report - a book on Islam...
Why isn't there a book on Christianity - or one on Wicca or paganism?

'Constructing a Local Multifaith Network'  (pdf, 700KB)
This handbook has been sent to local Councils, recommending they form Multifaith Networks.

'Australian Muslims: their Beliefs, Practices and Institutions' (83 pages, pdf, 1.65MB)
Written by Prof Abdullah Saeed, a Muslim who is the "Sultan of Oman Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies" at the University of Melbourne This book is designed to be used as a school textbook and highlights favourable aspects of Islam.

Prayer in parliament
Here we'll just elaborate on the "Prayer in Parliament" proposal... for discussion of more aspects see the One Page and Four Page assessments above.

The report recommends that the Parliamentary day be opened by a 'rotating' prayer from one of 17 faith communities including those of no belief - in this case it could be a reading instead of a prayer! Then they recommend that the Parliamentary Day be CLOSED with the Lord's prayer.

From the Report: "Use of the Our Father (P 99)
"The use of the exemplary Christian prayer, the Our Father, to commence each parliamentary day was raised though some Christian leaders considered it ought to be acceptable to all faiths since the name of Jesus is never mentioned. The suggestion that the Our Father be replaced by a series of prayers and readings selected by each of the major faith communities on a rotational basis with, perhaps, the Our Father, in deference to the Christian majority, being recited to close each parliamentary day was received by religious leaders as a more preferred and worthwhile compromise. It is suggested that the rotation also include a reading chosen by rationalist or atheist organizations in deference to those whose world view is not embedded in a theist framework. It is suggested that the rotational system include those faith groups which have at least 0.333 per cent of the total population - in 2001, this would have included the following 16 groups (in order): Catholic, Anglican, No Religion (atheist/rationalist), Uniting Church, Presbyterian, Orthodox, Buddhist, Baptist, Muslim, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Hindu, Jewish, Jehovah's Witness, Salvation Army and Church of Christ. Local inter-faith groups such as Hume in Melbourne have utilized a similar system successfully. Such a solution would show to the world Australia as a lighthouse of multi-faith co-operation."

Call to ban all X-rated porn in Australia

July 2007

Recent reports of child abuse in aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory have shocked the nation and led to intervention by the federal government. Alcohol abuse and pornography have been cited as causes and the federal government has called for a ban of X-rated pornography going into aboriginal communities.

A number of concerned groups around the nation have called on the Prime Minister and the government to extend the ban so that all children are protected.... calling for a ban on the sale of X-rated pornography from the Northern Territory and the ACT. All of the states ban the sale of such material but it is shipped by post from the Territories.

The government is currently looking at that situation.

Now John Anderson, former leader of the National Party and former Deputy Prime Minister, has spoken up, saying all children - indigenous and non-indigenous - need to be protected and that all governments need to consider the issue.

He said "I think what comes out of this is we are now conceding that there's a problem with this stuff, and frankly I think that all Governments ought to have a long hard look at it again." ... "And we ought to say that civil libertarian arguments are not enough in the face of too many young Australian children's lives are being deeply scared even permanently and seriously damaged."

Ban all hard-core porn, says Anderson
July 09, 2007 - The Australian

ACTION: Write to your local federal Member and the Prime Minister asking them to ban the sale of all X-rated pornography in the ACT and the NT.
Members of Parliament - click here for details.
The Prime Minister - click here to email him online.

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