Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Religious freedom, LGBT exclusion

The federal government’s review into religious freedom has recommended allowing religious schools to turn away LGBT students, teachers and staff. Fairfax reports that the review, which the government has refused to release for four months, recommends amending the Sex Discrimination Act to allow religious schools “to select, or preference, students who uphold the religious convictions of that school community”. The review rejected calls from conservatives to allow businesses to refuse service to customers on religious grounds. It also declined to recommend standalone legislation exempting churches and religious organisations from anti-discrimination laws.

Federal government ministers have dismissed a United Nations report warning that global coal consumption would have to cease by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change. While admitting she had not read the report, environment minister and former mining industry lawyer Melissa Price said the 91 leading climate scientists who authored the report were “drawing a long bow”, and that it “would be irresponsible of us” to commit to the UN’s recommendations. Nationals leader and deputy prime minister Michael McCormack, who also failed to read the report, said Australia should not abandon coal mining “just because somebody might suggest that some sort of report is the way we need to follow and everything that we should do”.

Prime minister Scott Morrison has laid out the terms of reference for the royal commission into the aged-care sector. The inquiry will run for 18 months with a final report date of April 2020, and be based in Adelaide where a South Australian Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation highlighted the abuse and neglect at the Oakden nursing home. Supreme Court justice Joseph McGrath and former public servant Lynelle Briggs will head the inquiry, which will investigate “mistreatment and all forms of abuse, the causes of any systemic failures, and any actions that should be taken in response”. The commission has scope to make findings relating to “all forms of Commonwealth-funded aged care services, whatever the setting or environment in which those services are delivered”.

And the New South Wales government bowed to pressure from the racing and gambling lobbies to grant exemptions from laws aimed at protecting problem gamblers from betting advertising. Documents obtained by the NSW Greens under freedom of information laws show Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys, Racing Australia chief executive and former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell and other gambling and media executives urged the government in March to exempt racing-related gambling from laws prohibiting betting agencies from offering inducements to gamble. In July, Liquor and Gaming NSW released guidelines allowing the racing industry to continue gambling promotions alongside coverage of racing. The correspondence emerged as hundreds of protesters with torches disrupted a projection of racing advertising on the Sydney Opera House’s sails.



“Yan is routinely referred to as China’s most controversial novelist, thanks to his scandalous satires about the brutalities of its Communist past and the moral nullity of its market-driven transformation ... Since 2016, almost all of Yan’s work – to date, seventeen novels, as well as short stories, novellas, and volumes of essays – has been subject to an unofficial ban.”


“Pope Francis has been fighting off critics practically since the day he was elected in 2013 ... Since then, conservative dissenters in the Catholic hierarchy have formed a resistance of sorts, pushing back against Francis’s pronouncements on divorce, immigration, climate change, and poverty.”


“He would tell his story exclusively to me, he promised, if I left out certain parts. Like so many of his offers, it was one that promised a wealth of opportunity, in return for very little. In the end, though, I decided to decline. Because Khalid wasn’t writing me from his yacht, or his penthouse on Fisher Island, or his father’s palace in Dubai, but from a cell at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.”


“Abortion reform in Queensland is closer to becoming a reality after the LNP party room decided to allow its MPs to exercise a conscience vote ... After a two-hour meeting, LNP leader Deb Frecklington released a statement announcing the party room had unanimously resolved that its members would be granted a conscience vote on [the issue].”


“The mother of a federal Liberal National Party member in Queensland has used her son’s parliamentary office and email to distribute anti-abortion propaganda ... Luke Howarth, who liked multiple tweets from people marching for abortion to remain a crime last month, did not answer questions about why his mother was using his parliamentary resources.”


“You won’t believe it. I’m saying this horse knew me. He actually remembered me from another Western we made a while back. I love animals. When we worked together before I took special care of him. I fed him treats. Gave him apples.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.