Australian Politics 2018-02-12 15:40:00

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Australian churches and their institutions are generally legally free to hire and fire on religious grounds regardless of anti-discrimination law

The article below by Brian Morris deplores that.  It is said to be based on a Religious Freedom Review submission by NSW barrister, Dean Stretton.  Something has got lost along the way, however, as the article is founded on a belief that is wrong at law. He says "the constitution was framed on secular principles, with the foundational concept of separation between Church and State."

That is utter rubbish.  The separation of church and State is not even in the American constitution, though it has been read into the anti-establishment clause of the 1st amendment.  But nothing like that exists in the Australian case because our head of State, the Queen, is also head of the Church of England.  In her person, the Queen embodies both the church and the State. Try to split that up! So the claim that Australia should be wholly secular is without legal foundation.  It is just the preference  of the writer

And in the end it all comes down to politics.  The churches believe that their mission requires certain freedoms from restrictions and they have the political heft to ensure that they get those freedoms from the politicians.  Enough people believe in freedom of religion to ensure that the politicians go along with it. 

Australians are for the greatest part happily secular but they are not dogmatic about it.  They are happy for AustrAlia to be only partly secular.  "One size fits all" is a great Leftist prescription in the simple-minded tradition of Procrustes but not everybody is trapped in that rigid mindset.  They can allow exceptions to even a generally good rule where circumstances seem to warrant it.



Quite remarkably, a public majority will be unaware of the likely impact of Prime Minister Turnbull’s decision to empower the Religious Freedom Review. Few will grasp its social implications. Some may recall the PM appointing Philip Ruddock to head an ‘expert panel’ to take public submissions on ‘religious freedom’ — and to identify freedoms believed “lost” when same-sex marriage was legalised.

On 31st March, Ruddock will recommend to parliament measures to restore those “lost” freedoms.

For most, this rather solemn-sounding review will be seen simply as one more political committee — with Ruddock sifting through a few submissions to appease Christians, Muslims, and other faiths who continue to feel aggrieved about gay marriage.

But fundamentalists of all faiths see this as a rare opportunity to win new concessions. One has only to view the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) website, with its 15-point rallying cry for devout Christians to swamp the Review with submissions.

Indisputably, religion asserts its current raft of freedoms through exclusive exemptions from Australian law. They are privileges not accessible to the 78 per cent of citizens who believe the constitution was framed on secular principles, with the foundational concept of separation between Church and State.

Under federal law, protection of ‘religious freedom’ and legal exemptions include: the Fair Work Act; Migration Act; Age Discrimination Act; Sex Discrimination Act; Evidence Act; and Section 116 of the Constitution. And religions pay no tax under the Charities Act and Tax Act — based on the sole criterion of “Advancing Religion.” International and State laws double this list of entitlements to all faiths!

Here’s the problem. Religion is now, collectively, one of the largest employers in the nation. Private religious schools currently enrol close to 40 per cent of all children — that alone is a huge workforce. Include, too, all the private hospitals, aged care facilities, employment agencies, charities, shelters, and a raft of commercial enterprises, and the total number of religious employees is staggering.

Church institutions are already free to “hire and fire” on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and marital status. Without question, submissions to the Ruddock Review will call for further entitlements to discriminate in employment in favour of the faithful — the Australian Christian Lobby website makes that clear. The truth is that most of the duties performed are not religious in nature — they are secular.

Ironically, these religious institutions will argue vigorously that it should be illegal to discriminate against them — because of their religious beliefs — but in the same breath insist they should be given further employment entitlements to discriminate against people who do not share those beliefs!

Certainly, it is fair to say many roles within private religious enterprises require training suitable to their ‘mission’. Those engaged in overt religious practice, in pastoral care, theological positions, and for advocacy, will need to meet church criteria. But for the majority of ‘secular’ positions, employment opportunities should not be barred to those who do not meet their strict standards of biblical faith.

It would be wrong for the Religious Freedom Review to extend faith-based exemptions for secular positions in education, health or social services. In fact, exemptions should be wound back for all ‘public services’ run by religious organisations.

These exemptions are not a matter of genuine religious freedom, because there is no religious law or doctrine that requires its followers to run education, health or social service facilities! Our constitution rejects a ‘religious test’ for public office; why not also for secular roles in ‘publicly funded’ religious enterprises?

If religious adherents cannot follow laws that apply to all other citizens — and without privileged legal exemptions — they should consider withdrawing from those activities and focus solely on their beliefs and religious worship. One clear example is private religious schools which are free to discriminate against secular employees, while the institutions are publicly funded to the tune of $12.8b.

Religious exemptions undermine our secular constitution; they weaken the basic rule of law that must apply to all people; and they deny the non-religious the right to their own beliefs. Why do we give exclusive entitlements to people of faith when all religion is purely a matter choice? Believers are not compelled to believe — particularly when “doubt” is uppermost in the minds of many. Every religion cannot, by pure logic, be equally true. It raises questions for people of faith to contemplate.

Special entitlements, based on arbitrary faith, are necessarily problematic. Such privileges should be equal to all — or to none. However, there seems little doubt the Ruddock Review will make a number of recommendations to parliament, to rectify the perception of “lost” freedoms.

We can only trust parliament does not acquiesce to further religious entitlements. Indeed, the process needs to be reversed — specifically for non-theological positions in faith-based institutions funded by taxpayers. The level of religious privilege and authority is already inappropriately high — in a nation that claims to be a secular democracy.

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Commonwealth Games minister DENIES volunteers have been banned from saying 'g'day' and forced to say Aboriginal greeting 'jingeri'

I have seen a lot of Aborigines in my day and I have never heard one say "jingeri'.  Aborigines usually just speak broad Australian.  This is just some fiction dreamed up as a form of political correctness

The Commonwealth Games minister has denied volunteers have been banned from saying 'g'day' at the event.

LNP MP John-Paul Langbroek claims Commonwealth Games volunteers have been asked not to say the phrase but instead use the indigenous greeting 'jingeri'. 'It's not a word that most Gold Coasters or Queenslanders know,' he told 9 News.

'It's not going to show the true Gold Coast and the true Queensland to the 70 nations of the Commonwealth.'

He believes political correctness could ruin the Commonwealth Games.

But Games Minister Kate Jones insists the local indigenous greeting is optional for volunteers.

'You can say 'g'day', you can say 'hello' and you can say 'jingeri',' she said. 'It's complete and utter bulldust that you can't say 'g'day' at the Commonwealth Games.'

A games spokesperson said 'jingeri' is a suggestion in the volunteer manual, and it does not state it has to be used.

Over 15,000 volunteers are currently in training for the Commonwealth Games which starts April 4.

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Shuffling Seats: The Politicians Who Put ‘Person Over Party’… And Democracy

Winning a seat in the Senate for a political party, then dumping that political party and either going it solo or joining another party, undermines our parliamentary system, writes Ross Hamilton.

It used to be said that it was harder to get out of the Australian cricket team than it was to get in there. While that may no longer be the case for our cricketers, it is clearly is with our politicians.

Once an individual gets their backside on a red or green leather seat in Parliament House, they generally get to stay there no matter what. They then get to pick and choose who they will represent, with the result of elections simply ignored. This makes a complete farce of our electoral process and it must change. But it won’t.

An individual seeks election for a specific political party unless they are an independent from the outset. The Senate results from the 2016 election clearly demonstrate that the majority of Australians vote above the line for party, not the individual.

Voters have every right to expect to continue to be represented by the party that won those positions. But once someone gets into the Senate or House of Representatives, the electorate no longer matters.

When Cory Bernadi quit the Liberal Party, he no longer had the backing of the proportion of the SA vote won by the Liberals. Only approximately 2,000 South Australians had voted for him as an individual. Yet he retained his Senate seat despite not having enough votes to win so much as a part-time position as a Parliamentary shoeshine boy.

Lucy Gichuhi stood for election as Senator in 2016, representing the Family First party in South Australia but was unsuccessful. But after Bob Day lost his senate position on constitutional grounds, Gichuhi was the next cab off the rank on the list of Family First candidates after countback, becoming Senator Gichuhi by default.

Except several weeks later the Family First party no longer even existed as Day had merged it with Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives.

So where did that leave the South Australians who voted for the Family First party that no longer existed? What gave Gichuhi the right to then be an Independent Senator when only obtaining 152 votes of her own?

Despite never elected as a Liberal or National, Gichuhi now gets to join the ranks of LNP Senators, becoming an unelected part of the ruling conglomerate. And the outrage of LNP Members and Senators over Bernadi remaining in the Senate after quitting his party, was strangely absent when it was to their advantage to permit Gichuhi to similarly ignore the electorate.

Matters are even more ludicrous when you look at the One Nation situation. Malcolm Roberts also owed his Senate seat entirely to the party’s vote – only 77 people voted for him as an individual. But after the High Court gave Roberts his marching orders, the next eligible person on the One Nation list was Fraser Anning, who only received 19 votes.

Yet the moment Anning appeared in the Senate, he announced he had quit One Nation. So now we have someone holding a seat in the Senate with a grand total of 0.0001% of the required quota. In other words, he failed to obtain 99.999% of the quota but still has a Senate seat.

Whether you love or hate One Nation, and I despise them, it cannot be denied that they legitimately won three Senate positions in Queensland. Yet that electoral result was tossed out with last weekend’s fish and chip wrappers. But One Nation also benefitted by just such ship jumping when Steve Dickson quit the LNP to join ON and give them a parliamentary seat in Queensland that was never won at the ballot box.

We never seem to be far from political hypocrisy.

The Australian Electoral Commission considered this overall situation after Meg Lees quit the Australian Democrats in 2002 to continue as an unelected Independent. But the AEC position eventually was to recommend doing nothing, suggesting that trying to control these matters by legislation is too difficult. What rubbish.

Legislation is needed to make the position very clear – if you decide to quit your party or change parties, then you lose your seat with by-elections required for the House of Representatives and the next eligible name taken from the electoral list for the Senate. If a political party suddenly disappears then the same process should replace all Members and Senators of that party. This also needs to be enacted at both Federal and State-Territory levels.

Members and Senators cannot continue to decide who or what they want to be part of, after an election. And it will only be through such remedial action that elections can have any hope of regaining any integrity and honesty. As matters currently stand, elections are becoming increasingly meaningless.

Unfortunately, the reality is that no political party in Australia would support any such change. Why? Because, as just proven by the hypocrisy of the Gichuhi matter, the major parties have too much to gain by ignoring the electorate.

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The rise and fall of Ben Ean Moselle and what it says about change in Australia

I remember Ben Ean well.  As I was mainly a red drinker at the time I never drank much of it however.  I mainly drink Tyrrells Verdelho these days



Do you remember Lindeman's Ben Ean Moselle? This slim-bottled, white table wine was quaffed in great quantities in the 1970s.

It played a leading role in democratising wine drinking in Australia as tastes began to diversify from an almost exclusively beer-drinking nation.

As we discuss in the Journal of Australian Studies, Ben Ean's fortunes were aligned with tremendous social flux between the 1960s and 1980s.

According to industry luminary Philip Laffer, Ben Ean was invented by accident in 1956. It boomed in the '70s but began to decline in popularity in the mid-1980s as fine wine became more desirable.

In 2009, the company that owned the Lindeman's brand stopped making the wine.

In the 1970s, Ben Ean was the first wine to be advertised on TV.

A breezy, comforting egalitarianism prevailed in the ad, which featured the Little River Band: "Who wants to journey on a gigantic yacht? … Who wants to be a millionaire? I don't".

This attitude changed in the advertising of the 1980s, as Ben Ean became the "wine that dreams are made of", associated with a mood of aspirational fantasy.

In the 1950s, Australia had little wine-drinking culture to speak of.  Professional men were the main consumers of quality Australian table wines (those with alcohol levels below 25 per cent).

Some others drank "plonk" (less expensive Australian fortified wines, containing one third brandy).

The public face of drinking was a white, working-class, beer-swilling man in a pub's front bar.

In 1965, Merle Thornton and Rosalie Bogner heroically chained themselves to the front bar of Brisbane's Regatta Hotel to protest against this sex-segregation.

While licensing reforms and the postwar relaxation of social mores began to break down the gender divide between the blokes' front bar and the backroom ladies lounge, women mainly chose to enjoy new drinking freedoms at home, at parties, with other women in new city eateries at Friday lunch and in activist meetings.

This subverted a long-held British tradition of wine as elitist and male.

Women's new habits were encouraged by the easy drinking style of Ben Ean — a wine lighter in alcohol than spirits or fortified wines, semi-sweet and unchanging from year to year. Lindeman's promoted Ben Ean to women as "just right", for any occasion.

Although Anglo Australian men often ascribe new wine-drinking habits to the postwar migration of European men from wine countries, Anglo Australian women were key consumers of wine initially — this was at first a gendered change.

Anglo Australian men, coming to realise that wine was neither un-Australian nor unmanly, soon embraced wine at home, parties, and restaurants.

Rapid industrialisation in the 1970s and the rise of the middle-class, attracted more men to wine as a white-collar drink.

Different types of fine-wine culture came to signify opposing sides of Australian politics.

Red wine was seen as conservative, white wine was for social progressives — the "chardonnay socialists" who conservatives accused of selling out their working-class origins with university education and professional incomes.

Success meant displays of wealth. Cheap and cheerful Ben Ean seemed unsophisticated for those who wanted to stand out from the crowd.

But while the brand managers of Ben Ean read the national mood in 1983 accurately, their aspirational, fantasy ad campaign ultimately failed. Many consumers — particularly men new to wine — were more interested in products that expressed social status.

They preferred wines that were less sweet and labelled for provenance: vintage year, vineyard origins and grape varieties (such as Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz).

Yet easy-drinking white wines never really went away.

As Tim Minchin expresses in his Christmas song, White Wine in the Sun, the wine-drinking habits spurred by Ben Ean became synonymous, for many, with home and family.

SOURCE

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