Sunday, March 31, 2013

Which Australian politicians believe in God?

Do MPs believe in God? Easter, politicians and faith, election,
More than 80 per cent of the federal politicians who responded to a News Ltd survey said they believed in God and would be attending at least one church service this weekend.

In the report by Candace Sutton posted online this afternoon, four politicians 'out' themselves as atheists - three Greens and a Liberal - while a fourth Green politician, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson (Tas) admitted: 'I am still a journeyman on this one...'

Those who responded to the survey saying they believed in God included:

Australian Senate: Senator Eric Abetz (Lib, Tas), Senator Chris Back (Lib, WA) Senator David Feeney (ALP, Vic) Senator Mark Furner (ALP, Qld), Senator Ian Macdonald (Lib, Qld), Senator Bridget McKenzie (Nat, Vic), Senator Dean Smith (Lib, WA), Senator Ursula Stephens (ALP, NSW), Senator Matt Thistlethwaite (ALP, NSW).

House of Representatives: Karen Andrews (Lib, Qld), Bob Baldwin (Lib, NSW), Jamie Briggs (Lib,SA), Teresa Gambaro (Lib, Qld), Steve Georganas (ALP, SA), Natasha Griggs (CLP, NT), Bob Katter (KAP, Qld), Shayne Neumann (ALP, Qld), Graham Perrett (ALP, Qld), Tanya Plibersek, (ALP, NSW), Michelle Rowland (ALP, NSW), Kevin Rudd (ALP, Qld), Janelle Saffin (ALP, NSW), Bruce Scott (Nat, Qld), Alan Tudge (Lib, Vic), Bert van Manen (Lib, Qld), Maria Vamvakinou (ALP, Vic), Joe Hockey (Lib, NSW).

Don't believe in God: Senator Lee Rhiannon (Greens, NSW), Senator Larissa Waters (Greens, Qld), Adam Bandt (Greens, Vic) and Senator Simon Birmingham.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Full transcript of the Prime Minister's national apology for forced adoptions

Today [Thursday, March 21, 2013], this Parliament, on behalf of the Australian people, takes responsibility and apologises for the policies and practices that forced the separation of mothers from their babies, which created a lifelong legacy of pain and suffering.

2. We acknowledge the profound effects of these policies and practices on fathers.

3. And we recognise the hurt these actions caused to brothers and sisters, grandparents, partners and extended family members.

4. We deplore the shameful practices that denied you, the mothers, your fundamental rights and responsibilities to love and care for your children. You were not legally or socially acknowledged as their mothers. And you were yourselves deprived of care and support.

5. To you, the mothers who were betrayed by a system that gave you no choice and subjected you to manipulation, mistreatment and malpractice, we apologise.

6. We say sorry to you, the mothers who were denied knowledge of your rights, which meant you could not provide informed consent. You were given false assurances. You were forced to endure the coercion and brutality of practices that were unethical, dishonest and in many cases illegal.

 7. We know you have suffered enduring effects from these practices forced upon you by others. For the loss, the grief, the disempowerment, the stigmatisation and the guilt, we say sorry.

8. To each of you who were adopted or removed, who were led to believe your mother had rejected you and who were denied the opportunity to grow up with your family and community of origin and to connect with your culture, we say sorry.

Did Crean collude with Gillard to try and fatally discredit Rudd?

Simon Crean, leadership spill, Labor, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd
Did Simon Crean collude with Julia Gillard in yesterday's phantom leadership spill?

If there is one place conspiracy theories may actually have some credence, it's the Labor Party in 2013.

On a day when we should have been sitting down to headlines of a national apology for those harmed by forced adoptions, we were overtaken by absurd political machinations or, perhaps, absurdist political theatre with B grade actors.

Watching Simon Crean's media conference early afternoon yesterday, in which he explained how he was urging Julia Gillard to call a leadership spill, he articulated two assumptions:
  • Having asked the Prime Minister to call the spill, he assumed she wouldn't.
  • Having not asked Kevin Rudd to run for leader in the spill, he assumed he would.
As it unfolded, Gillard did call a spill and Rudd didn't stand as a candidate. The only one to find themselves in changed circumstances was Simon Crean - sacked as a Minister.

But even more interesting was the way Crean spoke about Gillard and Rudd.

Julia Gillard, leadership spill, Simon Crean, Kevin Rudd
When explaining his motives, Crean spoke quietly and tenderly about Gillard, saying everyone knew the length and depth of his relationship with Julia and that this was not personal.

When asked about Rudd, he spoke harshly, almost spitting out the words, saying Kevin had to run, that he had to stop playing games on the sideline, that he was sick of the games.

If you forget the words Crean actually spoke, and think of how he said them, then he was clearly a friend to Julia Gillard and an adversary of Kevin Rudd. And this would be in keeping with his previous words about Rudd in which he described him as 'treacherous'.

Which is why it is not crazy-conspiracy to ask, did Crean fall on his sword for Gillard in an attempt to flush out and once-and-for-all fatally discredit Rudd, knowing that he didn't ever have the numbers to win?

Another argument in favour of this theory is that Crean's tactics yesterday match the style of 'policy by ambush' that seems to be gripping Labor leadership in these frantic days. Think media law...

If there was no collusion, and Crean acted alone, believing he could single-handedly redirect the fortunes of Labor, then it was one of the strangest political miscalculations we will see... until the next one.

Perhaps the only thing stranger about yesterday was Bob Katter wandering the corridors of Parliament when a division was on that nearly led to a no confidence vote in the Prime Minister. Reading from the same script, was he hedging his bets (and his vote) as to whether it was better politically, or not, to be a part of bringing down the government...

The Biblical obligation to pray for those in authority, never seemed more apt and more needed.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Here's what Tony Abbott said on 60 Minutes

Tony Abbott appeared on 60 Minutes tonight, interviewed by Liz Hayes, and also featuring his family including his sister, lesbian Christine Forster.

Mr Abbott, who many tip to be Australia's next Prime Minister, was being tested as to whether his views of the past were current today or whether he could successfully present himself as a changed, '21st century man'.

Here is some of what he had to say:

When Liz Hayes suggested that he was only person who could stop himself becoming Prime  Minister, Abbott said that he often will 'warn the party that we could stop ourselves winning, it often happens.'

Asked if Julia Gillard's now famous misogyny speech - directed mainly at Abbott - had hurt him politically: 'In the end, I guess, we’ll find out on polling day but it wasn’t true and it wasn’t fair.'

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Debate it may not be, but event considers religion and politics

'Can we untangle religion and politics?' is the headline question at the Ideas at the House event - Church and State, Sydney Opera House, March 24.

The event is framed as 'AC Grayling discusses Church and State' in a 'fiery panel debate' but it's unclear if there are equal sides represented or perhaps it is an issue were there are no clear cut sides. The tone of the website publicity leans towards a negative view of church influence on state and politics and the make-up of the panel seems to settle the issue.

Anthony Grayling MA, DPhil (Oxon) FRSL, FRSA, an outstanding academic and writer, is currently Master of the New College of the Humanities, and a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford.

But in the context of this 'debate' his appointments to various humanist and secularist societies are of special note. As the headliner for this event, clearly an agenda is set.

The second panelist highlighted is Sean Faircloth, no less than Director of Strategy and Policy at the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, US and the author of Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All And What We Can Do About It.

The first Australian to appear is Father Frank Brennan, a Jesuit priest, an adjunct fellow in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the ANU, professor of law in the Institute of Legal Studies at the Australian Catholic University, and professor of human rights and social justice at the University of Notre Dame Australia.

Father Brennan will represent a component of Christian or church views and is entirely capable of matching it with his fellow panelists.

The choice of the final panelist seems to leave Brennan alone at the event in at least putting forward some points supporting the role of church and religion in society.  Pru Goward is well known as an ABC broadcaster, former Executive Director of the Office of the Status of Women and current NSW Minister for Family and Community Services.

She is seen as more of a Conservative, but from a secular perspective, as far as we aware.

Not that we should assume that Christians all advocate for an entanglement of religion and politics or church and state, in an institutional sense. Most, hopefully, would want government to be fair and equitable for all, regardless of religion.

However they may consider the historic Judeo-Christian basis for our society and the unique place of Christian social justice deserve special recognition (or simply the recognition it deserves) and, to some extent, protection. And they may also consider that seeking to vote for candidates and parties that carry some alignment with their personal and deeply held values and views about life is not a sin.

To this end, perhaps if the organisers were interested in balance they may have appointed Goward a kind of moderator and added another eminent Christian thinker such as World Vision's Tim Costello, CPX's John Dickson or Dr Justine Toh, to name a few.

Church & State will be held at the Sydney Opera House, Sunday March 24 at 4pm with standard tickets starting at $35. More information here ACV.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Full transcript of Julia Gillard's speech at the University of Western Sydney, March 3, 2013

After acknowledging various Labor luminaries, Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered this address at the beginning of her 'week in western Sydney':

'I want to share you with a story David Bradbury relayed to me just last week. Denis Mars is the co-founder of a start-up based in San Francisco which develops technology for online video conversations and conferences.

David and Denis met at a convention in Silicon Valley and because Denis is Australian they got to talking. It turned out that while Denis is finishing his graduate degree at Stanford in California, his first degree, like David’s, was from Sydney University.

He and his wife, Renee, are both from the western suburbs. In fact, Denis grew up right around the corner from David, in the next street, not so far from here in Fairfield West. Here’s a young man from these streets, who’s founding firms on the other side of the world, who’s making new ideas pay, who’s making his living building new technologies.

His is a genuine local success story we can admire. A story of aspiration and achievement. But no one person’s story is the story of this entire region, home to 1.6 million people, including 350 000 children – and the third biggest economy in Australia.

Indeed, no one community’s story is the story of this region. Penrith isn’t the same as Parramatta; Campbelltown isn’t the same as Castle Hill. But there are some things we do want for this region as a whole and for every person in Sydney’s west.

Seeking Julia Gillard's western Sydney speech

Julia Gillard, western Sydney, speech, transcript, UWS, electionJulia Gillard yesterday delivered a five point plan for western Sydney and elaborated on her belief in opportunity as the key to improved quality of life - but as of at least 1:24am the following day a full transcript of the speech is yet to appear, anywhere.

This is perhaps surprising for an important speech given at the start of one of the most highly publicised Prime Ministerial appearances in recent time.

Oh well, perhaps everyone from the PM's office was kicking back at Rooty Hill RSL...

In the meantime, Malcolm Farnsworth's was the first to post a full recording of the speech and when it does arrive, the full transcript should be found here.

And the five point plan for western Sydney:
  • Support jobs and put Aussie workers first,
  • Deliver high-speed broadband to the region, 
  • World-leading education for children,
  • Insurance against disability, and
  • Help in managing the pressures of modern family life and modern society. 
The Liberal party countered the Prime Ministers speech by listing 18 promises the Prime Minister has broken to western Sydney.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Peter Harvey: faith, family and an outstanding career

Peter Harvey, Women's Weekly, God, Jesus, Canberra, journalist, Christian, faith
'Peter Harvey... Canberra.'

This signature sign-off was heard during the 6pm news by many thousands of Australians for years from journalist Peter Harvey when he served as the head of Channel Nine's Canberra Bureau. One of the first stories he covered was the dismissal of Gough Whitlam in 1975.

The 68-year-old Walkley Award-winning journalist died shortly before the 6pm news on March 2, at Royal North Shore Hospital, his wife Anne and children Claire and Adam by his side.

Tributes have since flowed in rivers for a man who was universally respected both for his professional skills and his integrity as a human being.

In December, The Australian Women's Weekly asked Harvey to write about his fight with pancreatic cancer and in this article he credits his wife, his family and his God for the strength to 'get along, day by day'.

'Anne has been the centrepiece of my life since the day I met her in the late 1960s in Sydney. I loved her then and that love has only grown deeper. There's also my children (Adam and Claire, both journalists). They're grown up now, with wonderful careers and their own lives, but are always part of us. Close then, close now. I'm also supported by a firm belief in God and Jesus Christ, a faith that not even a grim and punishing Church of England boarding school could hinder.'
He also said his work was a 'reassuring constant' -  a career that started in the Daily Telegraph, encompassed 2UE, 2GB, the BBC, The Guardian, Newsweek and of course, Channel 9.

Peter Harvey will be sadly missed. Read his full article, My Battle with Cancer.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Australian political books to read while waiting for the election

With the election campaign still with seven months to run and the weather being particularly inclement, perhaps it's timely for considered voters to read some of the many books authored by our politicians.

And while this may not be considered light reading, bedtime reading or relaxing Sunday afternoon reading, it may give you a better idea of who you are voting for on September 14.

australian politics for dummies, political books, parliament, electionIn no particular order and with a willingness to add relevant titles if we have missed any, check out this selection which may be purchased by clicking the cover image.

There's probably no better place than to start, particularly if you are new to the Australian political arena, than Australian Politics for Dummies which will explain everything from how the parties originated to why was Gough Whitlam so upset in 1975. $33.95 from Booktopia.

Australian politics, books, election, australian christian voter, Julia Gillard, The Making of Julia Gillard, Jacqueline Kent The Making of Julia Gillard by Jacqueline Kent is one of two biographies written abut the Prime Minister before her rise to that office. The other is Julia Gillard by Christine Wallace. Both are curiously hard to buy online in Australia, this ebook edition has been updated after Gillard became PM - $21.17 from Amazon,

Australian politics, books, election, australian christian voter, Tony Abbott, Battlelines,Battlelines by Tony Abbott was published in late 2009 after the 2007 demise of the Howard government. In this book he presents his vision of the way forward for the Liberal Party and reflects on people such as Kevin Rudd, Malcolm Turnbull, and Julia Gillard. This ebook edition $17.99 from Amazon.

Australian politics, books, election, australian christian voter, John Howard, Lazarus RisingWe better take a moment to consider Australia's two most recent former Prime Ministers, given they both cast long shadows on today's politics, one way or another.

John Howard, firmly in retirement, has written a best-selling autobiography, Lazarus Rising, that is sought after because of the detailed political information it provides from Howard's long career. $28.95 from Booktopia.

Australian politics, books, election, australian christian voter, Kevin Rudd Kevin Rudd: The Biography was written before the 2007 election in which he became Prime Minister and was a perhaps somewhat hurried book to help introduce a relatively unknown Rudd to the Australia electorate. It still provides useful personal insight into Rudd the man. Ebook edition $21.17 from Amazon.

Australian politics, books, election, australian christian voter, Bob Katter, An Incredible Race of People From one maverick to another, Bob Katter is now the leader of his own party and is taking his big cowboy hat to the nation. Like Abbott, he has presented his vision of the way things should be in the encouragingly named An Incredible Race of People. $33.95 from Booktopia.

Australian politics, books, election, australian christian voter, Speechless, james buttonChanging tack a bit, Speechless is from journalist and one-time Kevin Rudd speechwriter, James Button. The son of much-loved Labor man, Senator John Button, James describes in a very personal way his one year foray into 'his father's business' - Australian politics. He gives us an inside view of the events surrounding Rudd's demise and what he sees as Labor's drift away from the party his father championed. $26.40 from Booktopia.

We've run out of steam for now, there's a limit to how many political books can be embraced at one time. But please howl us down about omissions and we'll update this page from time to time. In fact, we may start our own political book store on this site...