In a brilliant, insightful article on Online Opinion today, Meg Wallace explains the depths to which the Gillard government has stooped in its efforts to keep funding the National School Chaplaincy Program. It’s a story of how the Gillard government has thumbed its nose at the Australian Constitution and the High Court of Australia, abandoned the principle of parliamentary democracy, sold out public accountability and even manoeuvered to exempt its Ministers from prosecution when it became apparent they had very possibly broken the law. It’s all very, very grubby.
I highly recommend Meg Wallace’s article to you: Undermining the constitution to save school chaplains and others
Please share the link to this article with your own networks (click the Facebook ‘like’ or Twitter links on the article). The more people who understand exactly what the government has done in order to pander to the religious right the better.
One really has to ask what back-room deals have been done to make the government sell out the very basis of our parliamentary democracy in order to put poorly qualified, evangelical, religious zealots into our secular state schools.
But this issue extends beyond government support for religious evangelising. It opens the floodgates for government pork-barreling. If the new amendment to the Finance Act stands, governments can commit tax payers’ money to a whole range of vote-buying programs, without legislation and without proper public accountability. They have organized for themselves a huge government pork-barreling slush fund.
It’s important to note (as the Commonwealth Ombudsman has pointed out) that executive schemes (financed without appropriate legislation) are not reviewable under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (ADJR Act) and the merits of decisions made under this type of scheme are not reviewable by generalist or specialist tribunals. In other words, as it stands, the government can spend money without legislation and avoid accountability to the watchdogs set up to monitor government schemes. It is truly outrageous.
Ron Williams will be taking this matter back to the High Court of Australia, and it seems likely that the High Court justices will take a very dim view of the government trying to circumvent the Constitution and a High Court ruling by rushing through slip-shod, undemocratic legislation. For some opinions from constitutional experts, have a look at the links on the High Court Challenge website.
Once again, Williams will be risking his family’s financial future to fight for our rights in the High Court of Australia. It’s been estimated the cost of this second action will be around $400,000. Whether or not you support school chaplaincy, you should be appalled at the cynical way our government has dealt with this issue.
Please consider making a contribution towards Williams’ legal costs at the High Court Challenge website: http://www.highcourtchallenge.com .
I’ve donated $200, another friend has chipped in $1,000, but even smaller amounts will help if enough people donate.
This is a chance to be a part of constitutional history, and $50 or $100 is a very small price to pay to say to the government that ‘we the people’ demand they respect the rulings of the High Court of Australia and the Australian Constitution and the principle of parliamentary democracy.
Great article Chris,
This Wallace-like homophobia is alive and well down here in the ACT. The liberal’s Vicki Dunne who is standing for election in 40 days and would likely be the attorney general if the Canberra liberals win had this charming little speech in the ACT legislative assembly a number of years ago in a debate about gay adoption (apologies for the length but you can read the whole thing on Hansard):
Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 103..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
“conclusions that are now trotted out to us as evidence that everything will be all right if we just go down this path.
What we are doing here, in many ways, is very symbolic. As Mr Stefaniak has said, last year in the ACT there were precisely two stranger adoptions. We are making a law that will allow a very small proportion of the population, without appearing to be too critical, that does not provide, for the most part, the sort of environment that is appropriate for raising children.
Mr Stanhope: Explain that for us, Mrs Dunne.
MRS DUNNE: I will explain that. If a couple present themselves to an adoption agency here or anywhere else in this country or anywhere else in the Western world, they are screened for all sorts of things. They are screened for psychological stability, their propensity for disease and illness, how long their relationship has been and how stable it is-a whole range of things that go to their capacity to nurture a child who may be given into their care. This is not about having children as trophies.
Mr Stanhope: What’s sexuality or gender got to do with that?
MRS DUNNE: This has nothing to do with having children as trophies, but it is, sadly, a comment on the gay lifestyle. We see lots at the moment on TV about how good the gay lifestyle is, but this is not Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and another fashion accessory-these are the lives of children that we are talking about.
An incident having occurred in the gallery-
MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, resume your seat, please. As has been said before, members of the community are welcome to come to this chamber, take their places in the gallery and witness what happens in this place, but to interrupt proceedings is against the standing orders. If it persists, I will be forced to clear the gallery.
MRS DUNNE: In a fairly courageous speech the other day, Dr Steven Dawson also cited another study. Thomas Schmidt, in his book Straight and narrow, surveyed 200 studies of the gay lifestyle. He concluded by saying:
Suppose you were to move into a large house in San Francisco with a group of 10 randomly selected homosexual men in their mid-thirties. The relational and physical health of the group would look like this:
Four of the 10 are currently in relationships, but only one is faithful to his partner, and he will not be within a year. Four have never had a relationship that lasted more than a year, and only one has had a relationship that has lasted for more than three years. Six are having sex regularly with strangers, and the group averages almost two partners per person per month. One is a sadomasochist and one prefers boys to men.
Three of the men are currently alcoholics; five have a history of alcohol abuse and four have a history of drug abuse. Three currently smoke cigarettes, five regularly use at least one illegal drug, and three are multiple drug users.
Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 104..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
Four have a history of acute depression, three have seriously contemplated suicide, and two have attempted suicide. Eight have a history of sexually transmitted diseases, eight currently carry infectious pathogens, and three currently suffer from digestive or urinary ailments caused by these pathogens. At least three are HIV infected, and one has AIDS.
These are not nice things and are very difficult to say. But this is not the sort of environment that an objective psychologist or social worker assessing someone for their suitability to adopt children would willingly accept as being suitable for adopting parents to live in-and this is what we have to do here. The minister and others will say that we will assess this on a case-by-case basis, but that will be exceedingly difficult. We are going to put demands upon social workers and people who assess people-
Mrs Cross: Are you suggesting that these conditions only occur in homosexual couples?
MRS DUNNE: They make these assessments for heterosexual couples: do they have a propensity to suicide; do they have a propensity for mental illness; do they have a range of diseases that will make it difficult for them to provide long-term care; do they have a stable relationship? We do not willingly put children who are already in a difficult situation into unstable relationships and make their situation worse. These are all things that we have to do as a community and now, by this legislation, we are proposing to put onto social workers another layer of things.
Suddenly they are being told that if someone from another class of people comes forward, they must not discriminate against them. We have done it in such a way, we have made such a brouhaha about the whole thing, that they will feel pressured to look more favourably upon one group than the other, and soon we will find that people will feel they are in a situation where they are forced to accept people onto the list that otherwise they would not. This is not a position in which you put social workers whose first call is to look after the welfare of children. This is not what we should be doing. In this whole debate you see this over and over again. We are putting responsibilities and pressures on people that normally should not be there.
I conclude by using the common man test-the classic man on the omnibus. Somebody who was not at the rally on Sunday spoke to me after the rally about what I thought should happen with the legislation and what it meant. This was a youngish person and by no means a bigot, who was saying to me, “Why do people want to go down this path?”I was explaining why I thought people wanted to go down this path. He said something that was probably insightful because he is young, only in his early 20s, and not far away from school. He said, “What would that do to a kid if he went to school and his schoolmates discovered that he had two mums or two dads?”Kids at school are put under enough pressure. That may be wrong, but this is what we are doing. If you have the wrong sort of spread on your sandwiches at school you get a hard time. If you do not have the right Barbie doll accoutrements you get a hard time, and suddenly some poor little six-year-old is going to say, “I do not have a mummy and a daddy, I have two daddies”or “I have two mummies”.
Think of what that does in the playground. We may not be able to control it but, Chief Minister, you do not legislate against six-year-olds giving their classmates a hard time, and this is what will happen. This legislation is a complete abolition of common sense.”
Yes! The standard, we’ll create an environment under which homosexuals are vilified and made to feel like shit. Then, when they react to that discriminatory and toxic environment by turning to promiscuity, alcohol and drugs, we’ll use THAT as a reason to keep them in their place. I cannot describe the level of disgust I feel for this kind of thinking, other than to say it makes me feel physically ill.