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Archive for the ‘Media Releases’ Category

School chaplains and trivia nights

Posted by Christopher Owen on August 7, 2013

6th August 2013

Media Release

Schools should not be holding trivia nights to raise funds for school chaplains, according to Secular Party spokesperson, Greg Plier. “A public and supposedly secular school has decided that the best way to care for their students is to employ religious chaplains,” said Mr Plier. “Frankston High School has just held a trivia night to raise money. Why not do that to better resource their Student Wellbeing Team with properly qualified counsellors or welfare officers?” Mr Plier stated that the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program (NSCSWP), despite the name change, is virtually exclusively for the employment of chaplains by church-based providers.  “Frankston High School and state schools throughout Australia educate many children from families that are of religious minorities and from families that have no religion,” he said, “yet the vast majority of chaplains and religious providers are Christian.  The NSCSWP direction that school chaplains are not to preach, proselytise, evangelise their faith, or promote a particular religious belief is completely at odds  with the requirement that they must be endorsed by a recognised or accepted religious institution.”

He emphasised that chaplains and evangelical organisations such as ACCESS Ministries have no place in Australia’s secular inclusive public school system. “The Federal Government and schools should not be in the business of advancing religion,” said Mr Plier. “Clearly, the employment of chaplains is against the secular principle of separation of church and state.”

Mr Plier concluded with a reference to the Secular Party’s policy that the National Schools Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program be replaced with a single program supporting only qualified counsellors and student welfare officers in schools.

Greg Plier
Victorian Delegate
Secular Party of Australia
0402 355 508
gplier@secular.org.au

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Posted in Chaplains, Education, Media Releases, NSCP, Secular | Leave a Comment »

Move from carbon tax to ETS poor judgement

Posted by Secular on July 15, 2013

15 July 2013

Media Release

In the wake of Kevin Rudd’s announcement that an Emissions Trading Scheme will replace the existing carbon tax a year earlier than scheduled, Secular Party spokesperson, John Perkins, has stated that the shift to an ETS, either now or in the future, is not good policy.

Dr Perkins is a senior economist specialising in global warming models, and is the President of the Secular Party of Australia.

“Trading schemes are a fashionable way of seeming to do something but actually doing nothing,” he said. “There are two problems. Firstly, the market price may be too low to do anything, as now, or too volatile, so that you don’t have a secure base for long-term investment planning. Secondly, the foreign credits purchased may be for bogus schemes such as promised deforestation reductions which either don’t happen or else would have happened anyway.”

Dr Perkins said that environmental costs have to be paid by the market in some way. “A levy is the best way of doing this,” he said. “A price of at least $30 is needed to produce any shift in production away from coal. Australia’s grand plan is not to reduce emissions but to buy permits from countries like Indonesia. This is unlikely to result in any global benefit.”

Dr Perkins said that wealthier countries such as Australia needed to invest in and develop technologies for the mitigation of climate change, to give developing nations a chance to implement required technologies at a cheaper rate. He said that a carbon levy would encourage such investment, while the ETS concept was a “sham”.

“Of course, all this debate completely ignores Australia’s role as a coal exporter,” he added. “The emissions from Australia’s exported coal dwarf our domestic emissions. What Australia should be doing is seeking cooperation with other exporters to impose a carbon tax on coal exports.”

Dr Perkins concluded that people need to wake up to the fact that the two greatest threats to humankind are religious fundamentalism and anthropogenic global warming. “Given the serious consequences of such threats, we feel most Australians would appreciate a government whose policies were based on reason and evidence, as opposed to those who are more interested in deception in pursuit of the popular vote.”

John Perkins

President
Secular Party of Australia
PO Box 6004, Melbourne 8008
Tel 0411 143744

Posted in Carbon Tax, Media Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Prayers in local government are discriminatory

Posted by Secular on May 8, 2013

7 May 2013

Media Release

There is no place for prayer and other sundry religious observances in government, according to Moira Clarke, executive member of the Secular Party of Australia.

“We like to assume that all three levels of government aim to represent our diverse Australian community,” said Ms Clarke. “Not so! We have Christian prayers at the opening of Parliament, and around half of South Australian councils (*) conduct prayers before or during meetings.”

Last December, Cr Doriana Coppola of Charles Sturt Council put forward a proposal that prayer be removed from the pledge before Council meetings. There has been stiff opposition from the local churches, and the matter is to be decided at a meeting on May 13th.

“Figures from the 2011 Census show us that religion, in particular Christianity, is in decline,” said Ms Clarke. “How, then, can any government body claim to faithfully represent its entire community if it insists on pledging allegiance to a faith not shared by all its members? Such behaviour also implies that councillors are beholden to a higher authority than that of their elected office. This violates every principle of church-state separation, and flies in the face of democracy itself.”

Ms Clarke added that Charles Sturt Council was essentially forcing any non-Christian or irreligious Councillor to partake in Christian rituals. “This is discriminatory,” she said. “We are supposed to enjoy freedom of religion in this country. All Australian Christians are free to go to church and practise their faith and, indeed, pray quietly to themselves during Council meetings if they wish. But in this case they’re simply imposing their own religious ceremonies on others. That’s the opposite of freedom.”

Ms Clarke noted that with so many thousands of different belief systems around the world, and with 28% of South Australians marking “No religion” on the 2011 Census form, it is neither possible nor desirable to attempt to come up with some sort of prayer that is inclusive of everyone. “At the end of the day, religious observances in government are not only unnecessary, they are inappropriate in the 21st century,” she concluded. “Secular government is really the only way to ensure a fair go for all Australians.”

The Secular Party of Australia
PO Box 6004, Melbourne 8008

Contact: Moira Clarke, 0423 413 534

Footnotes

(*) According to research carried out by Martin Dunne under HSSA auspices, of 18 SA Councils contacted, five include a Christian pledge, five do not, and the remainder did not respond.

Posted in Media Releases | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

RU486, the PBS and the ACL

Posted by Secular on May 2, 2013

2 May 2013

Media Release

That the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and DLP senator John Madigan are outraged at the prospect of including RU486 in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme comes as no surprise to Secular Party of Australia Treasurer, Rosemary Sceats. Ms Sceats was responding to a comment from the ACL that “people with a philosophical or conscientious objection to abortion, which is a great many Australians, would then be forced to pay for something which they believe is wrong”.

“This is a spurious position,” said Ms Sceats. “Have they ever stopped to consider that the even greater number of Australians with no religious belief are forced to contribute to the estimated $32 billion-plus per annum in taxpayer support for religious organisations, through grants, direct and indirect subsidies, and generous tax concessions, deductions and exemptions, merely for ‘advancing religion’ per se as a so-called ‘charitable purpose’ providing a public benefit? Surely this is an even greater outrage.”

Ms Sceats pointed out that the treatment of ‘advancing religion’ as a charitable activity is an outmoded anachronism dating back to the time of Queen Elizabeth the First, when religious organisations actually did provide a public benefit through charitable services to the needy in the absence of government-funded social services.

“Religious belief and observance are personal and private matters that should not be funded by governments, which have a duty to spend tax money for the good of society in general. They should not be required to cater for individual demands of a private nature. Tax collection and expenditure are all about meeting community needs.”

Ms Sceats illustrated her point with the example of people who are childless by choice due to strong moral opinions on global population and the environment. “Should such people be able to avoid contributing through their taxes to the funding of pregnancy services, hospital births, the baby bonus and so on? Of course not! I don’t get to pick and choose how the money I pay in tax should be spent, and neither should members of the ACL.”

She added that there is a strong case that cost-effective provision of RU486 provides a service to the community, by facilitating safe and early terminations in cases of contraceptive failure, medical complications, rape, and economic hardship. “The ‘advancement of religion’, on the other hand, is not good for the community in that it does not provide a public benefit,” she concluded.

The Secular Party of Australia
PO Box 6004, Melbourne 8008.

Contact: John Perkins 0411 143744

Posted in Media Releases, Women's rights | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Geert Wilders has the right to be heard

Posted by Secular on February 22, 2013

22 February 2013

Media Release

Numerous venues refused to host the talks by visiting Dutch MP Geert Wilders, and his Perth talk had to be cancelled. “Whatever anyone thinks of his views, Wilders should be given the opportunity to speak,” said Dr John Perkins, President of the Secular Party of Australia. “The right to free speech is vital for a liberal democracy, and this is true even when some find the message offensive. If we are intimidated into silence by fear of recrimination, our basic freedoms are eroded.”

Dr Perkins said that the Secular Party is opposed to Wilders’s more extreme proposals regarding Muslim immigration and his uncritical support for Israel. He questions the consistency of opposing the concept of an Islamic state while supporting a Jewish state. “Secular states are best,” he said.

“We should not, however, be distracted from Islam’s poor track record on human rights,” said Dr Perkins. “The ill-treatment of women, gays and apostates is well documented. While we disagree with Wilders’s suggestion that immigration from Islamic countries should be stopped, our policy is that potential immigrants must comply with secular Australian values, including (and especially) gender equality.”

On Wilders’s description of Islam as a totalitarian ideology, Dr Perkins explained that while many Muslims are moderate, their religion places sharia law over civil law. “That is inherently undemocratic. Wilders also makes the point that Muhammad was a military leader who engaged in violent acts. This is correct. It is a key factor in understanding the motivation for Islamic terrorism today”, he said.

Dr Perkins concluded that we must be free to criticise any religion, be it Catholicism, Scientology or Islam. “This is well demonstrated by the recent findings leading up to the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse,” he said. “The absolute authority wielded by any religion can all too often become the vehicle for human rights abuses.”

The Secular Party aims to remove that power and privilege, be it for Islam or any other faith. The solution is informed debate, reason and evidence-based thinking, and emphasis on the universal humanist values of compassion, honesty, freedom and justice.

John Perkins
President, Secular Party.
PO Box 6004, Melbourne 8008.
Tel 0411 143744


© The Secular Party of Australia Inc., 2011. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and from the Secular Party of Australia is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and to this blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Posted in Media Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Teachers at Islamic College ordered to wear hijab

Posted by Secular on February 15, 2013

15 February 2013

Media Release

The sacking of teachers at the Islamic College of SA’s West Croydon Campus for refusing to wear the hijab is a clear violation of human rights, according to John Perkins, President of the Secular Party of Australia.

“Existing laws leave employees vulnerable to abuse, and the government’s proposed anti-discrimination legislation has failed to fix that,” Dr Perkins said. “The new legislation will continue to exempt religious institutions from laws that apply to all other employers. Christian schools, hospitals and employment agencies will still be able to refuse employment to gays, lesbians and single mothers. Once again, religion trumps intrinsic human rights.”

The ruling on religious attire at the college was introduced in 2012, at which point teachers were told they must comply or face the sack. Two female teachers have subsequently lost their jobs and are seeking redress in the courts.

Dr Perkins emphasised that the hijab is a religious symbol, and as such should not be imposed on others. “If a Muslim teacher at a Christian school were ordered to remove her hijab for no good reason, there would quite rightly be a huge uproar,” he said. “The Secular Party of Australia supports the rights of the religious to practise the requirements of their faith, but not to compel others to do likewise.”

He added that many of the religious organisations exempt from anti-discrimination laws are in receipt of government funding or else are under government contract. “It is time to end the practice of allowing taxpayers’ money to fund religious bigotry against women, the gay community and other religions,” he concluded.

John Perkins
President, Secular Party.
PO Box 6004, Melbourne 8008.
Tel 0411 143744


© The Secular Party of Australia Inc., 2011. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and from the Secular Party of Australia is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and to this blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Posted in Media Releases, Religious privilege | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Secular voices fight to be heard in Egypt

Posted by Secular on December 7, 2012

7 December 2012

Media Release

After the decades long inexorable rise in global Islamism, we may be reaching a turning point. For the first time in a Muslim country, we are now seeing open and specifically secular opposition to an Islamist government. In Egypt, a “unified secular opposition” is voicing its opposition to the imposition of an Islamic constitution.

The stakes are high. Islamic constitutions effectively prohibit secularism and mandate sharia law. Inexplicably, this is just what the post-invasion constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan have done. The inevitable result will be religious oppression, and social and economic disruption and stagnation.

The beliefs of all religions are contradicted by reason and evidence. The privileges granted to religions are thus not justified. In democracies we can say this. In Muslim countries it cannot be said. We should offer our support to those in Egypt fighting for this basic freedom.

John Perkins
President, Secular Party.
PO Box 6004, Melbourne 8008.
Tel 0411 143744

See News item:
http://www.smh.com.au/world/tanks-deploy-outside-egypt-presidential-palace-20121206-2axwt.html


© The Secular Party of Australia Inc., 2011. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and from the Secular Party of Australia is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and to this blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Posted in Islam, Media Releases | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

A new future Australian Head of State

Posted by Secular on December 4, 2012

5 December 2012

Media Release

A new royal baby is on the way, it has been announced by the palace. A future king or queen. An occasion for congratulations from Prime Ministers and a media frenzy of news stories about the happy royal couple, no doubt. Good luck and best wishes to them.

Amidst all the sycophantic adulation, however, there is another aspect which is overlooked: unless something changes, the new baby will one day be the Australian Head of State. Rather than choosing our own, our Heads of State are created by an act of British royal copulation.

It that what we really want?

The concept of a hereditary Head of State does not make any more sense than a hereditary carpenter, doctor, lawyer or politician. A new baby is very nice, but bring on the Republic please.


© The Secular Party of Australia Inc., 2011. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and from the Secular Party of Australia is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and to this blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Posted in Media Releases, Republic | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Child abuse inquiry exposes deeper questions

Posted by Secular on November 17, 2012

13 November 2012

Media Release

The Prime Minister is to be congratulated on heeding calls for a wide-ranging inquiry into child abuse in religious institutions. To improve the operation of these organisations, it should be made mandatory that all disclosures of criminal activity, whether in a confessional box or elsewhere, be reported to the police. Failure to do so should be a criminal offence. The time for such exemptions for religious bodies has passed.

The inquiry raises a deeper question. Why is it that religious organisations have been able to indulge with impunity in gross abuses for decades? What is it about the nature of society’s attitude towards religion in general that allowed this to occur?

Blame must be attributed to the archaic legal status attached to the advancement of religion as being, of itself, a charitable purpose. It is legally assumed that all religious activities are not merely benign, but beneficial. All the subsidies and tax concessions granted to religious organisations derive from this legal status.

It should by now be obvious that religions are not necessarily beneficial, and indeed can be harmful. Hence their unwarranted charitable status should end. Ethics and morality are better determined on the basis of the universal principles of compassion, honesty, justice and freedom.


© The Secular Party of Australia Inc., 2011. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and from the Secular Party of Australia is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and to this blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Posted in Child abuse, Media Releases, Religious privilege | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

It’s time . . . for a Royal Commission

Posted by Secular on November 17, 2012

12 November 2012

Media Release

Following the latest devastating revelations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy, and of the ongoing and systematic campaign of cover-ups by the Catholic Church, the Secular Party of Australia asserts that there is an urgent need for a national Royal Commission into this important issue. We are not convinced that the government of either New South Wales or Victoria is serious in their respective inquiries. Both of these governments are very reluctant to instigate a state Royal Commission with appropriate and wide-ranging terms of reference and full powers. One obvious question is “Why?” Is it possible that although the DLP has only one sitting MP, Peter Kavanagh, in the Victorian Legislative Council, its descendants are still a political force in other parties and governments? The Coalition in NSW springs to mind, with a high proportion of members with Catholic Church affiliation, including the Premier, Barry O’Farrell.

In the New South Wales Commission of Inquiry the focus will be restricted to the police handling and investigation of allegations of cover-ups in the Hunter region only, rather than on the Catholic Church itself, the abuse it has perpetrated on innocent and vulnerable victims, and its covering-up of these offences.

Surely this is where the root of the problem lies. It appears that neither the NSW Commission of Inquiry nor the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry is really serious about getting to the heart of the matter: who knew what about this, when did they know it, and what did they do about it? As yet no victims have been called to give evidence to the Victorian inquiry. At least now the Catholic Church in Victoria has agreed to co-operate with the inquiry and provide access to its own private files on reported cases of abuse. This is a step in the right direction. However it is to be hoped that none of the seriously incriminating material in these files will be withheld, and that none of it has already been destroyed. The NSW Government claims that its inquiry will have all the powers of a Royal Commission. Why then does it not yield to the growing calls for a proper Royal Commission into this appalling affair? Nothing less will satisfy either the victims or the general public


© The Secular Party of Australia Inc., 2011. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and from the Secular Party of Australia is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and to this blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Posted in Child abuse, Media Releases, Religious privilege | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »