The New South Wales Young Nationals has suspended processing new memberships and expelled several members with ties to fascist and neo-Nazi groups. Last week the ABC revealed members of the youth wing’s executive were also members of private Facebook groups where people advocate genocide, glorify Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust. Other NSW Young Nationals members attended meetings of The Lads Society, a group that hosts weekly “fight clubs” and is run by high-profile white nationalists such as former United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell. Anti-fascist group the White Rose Society previously reported that nearly two dozen alt-right extremists had joined the party to promote people who shared their ideologies into positions of power. In a statement, the NSW Young Nationals said “the National Party rejects all forms of racism and hatred” and “such radical ideologies have no place within our Party”.
The federal government will move to ban religious schools from expelling or refusing to take students on the basis of sexuality after a backlash to the Ruddock review into religious freedom. Prime minister Scott Morrison reversed his support for the recommendation last week, while attorney-general Christian Porter has pushed state and territory governments to abolish their own religious-based exemptions to anti-discrimination law. LGBT rights advocates are pushing to strike down similar exemptions allowing religious schools to fire teachers and staff on the basis of sexuality, with deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek saying the question was “a good conversation to have as a community”. Several polls released today show overwhelming opposition ($) to the Ruddock review’s original recommendation.
Queensland parliament will vote on whether to decriminalise abortion this week, with pro-choice advocates increasingly confident of success. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to reveal how she will vote on the issue, despite previously expressing support for decriminalisation. Pro-choice and pro-life groups held marches in Brisbane at the weekend, with pro-life activists protesting outside the office of deputy premier Jackie Trad as she walked with a pro-choice rally. Both major parties have granted their MPs a conscience vote on the issue, likely ensuring a close vote in Queensland’s one-house parliament, where Labor holds a slim majority.
And one in six Australian children are living in poverty, according to a new study from community service provider UnitingCare. The University of Canberra report on child social exclusion, to be launched at Parliament House today to mark the beginning of Anti-Poverty Week, found that 17.2 per cent of children aged 14 and younger lived in poverty, with rates highest in the rural Northern Territory, rural Victoria and New South Wales outside Sydney. UnitingCare Australia national director Claerwen Little said the report, which drew on census data on education, socioeconomic status, housing and health, showed “disadvantage is much more than just poverty or lack of financial security”.