Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Proclaiming love, justice, freedom and equality
Re “Job laws unfair: faith leaders” (The Age, 17/11). The Catholic bishops of Victoria are determined to ensure that discrimination – particularly against LGBITQ+ persons – is an integral part of their church policies and practices. The Second Vatican Council, the highest authority on Catholic teaching, took a different position.
In its 1965 Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, it stated that “with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, colour, social condition, language, or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God’s intent”.
Fundamental personal rights are still not being fully honoured in Victoria, but with its Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Bill 2021, the government is working to remedy that. Sadly it is facing opposition from those who are meant to be proclaiming and building the Kingdom of God, the hallmarks of which are love, justice, freedom and equality.
If the bishops want to promote a truly Catholic ethos in their schools and other organisations, and honour the fundamental personal rights of all citizens in Victoria, they should lay down their arms in opposing this bill, abandon their crusade to maintain discriminatory exceptions and accept that the Way of the Gospel is not the path of discrimination.
Dr Peter Wilkinson, Catholics for Renewal, Lower Templestowe
Opposition to this bill is misplaced and offensive
The response of some religious leaders expressing opposition to the Victorian government’s anti-discrimination bill fails to recognise the contribution that Christians of all persuasions have given to this form of public service and is disingenuous of those who still are working in the field. Further, the claim that the legislation is an attack on religious bodies and is strident secularism is misplaced and offensive.
In my experience, staff – both people of faith and those who do not hold a religious belief compatible with the mission of a faith-based agency – have always acted in the best interest of their clients, do not proselytise and act with integrity and honesty. They enrich service delivery and provide insights that may not otherwise have been addressed.
During my time as a senior executive of six large, community service agencies, religious leaders have always been fully supportive. The current option by some is in my view misplaced.
Ray Cleary, Camberwell
No school should be over the law of the land
An open letter from Victorian faith leaders published in The Age this week claimed parents send their children to religious schools because the teachers and staff “represent the religious ethos in every respect”. This will be news to many parents and teachers at prestigious Christian schools.
These schools are essentially businesses providing a secular curriculum while enhancing the life chances (aka sense of entitlement) of their “customers”. Few of their staff or parents attend church, many are not married to their partners and some even run sport on Sundays.
The hounding from office of a fine headmaster at Trinity Grammar school (Anglican) saw my church missing in action amidst a failure to invoke St Paul’s classic principles of dispute resolution. Sexist chants and foul language on public transport from Catholic boys’ schools are further examples of the thin veneer of religiosity in many of our allegedly religious schools.
Before elevating “religious schools” over the law of the land, our faith leaders would be better advised to establish the criteria for qualifying as a religious school and to also enumerate what are the core beliefs these schools, at taxpayer expense, are propagating.
John Carmichael, lay member of the Anglican Synod, Hawthorn
Prove sincerity by rejecting taxpayers’ money
Maybe private religious schools could show how seriously they are opposed to the equal opportunity bill by refusing to take taxpayers’ money.
James Lane, Hampton East
We don’t hire atheists
David Crowe’s article (Opinion, 19/11) on the federal government’s so-called religious freedom bill raises interesting points about rights for employers to discriminate on the basis of belief.
I am drawn to the idea that atheism is a belief – and a very strong one if 2016 census data is accurate. Under the proposed legislation, can an atheistic employer deny employment to a religious applicant on the grounds that they are religious and do not share the employer’s belief that there is no god? I think, rightly, that this would be unacceptable (and farcical). But if this is unacceptable, surely the reverse is equally so.
Donna Wyatt, Wyndham Vale
Right to believe or not
Scott Morrison is rightly wary of pursuing his “religious freedom” legislation because it has little to do with freedom of religion. It is about giving individuals and institutions more power to discriminate against others on the basis of religious beliefs or lack of. Australians already have all the freedom they need to follow their religious beliefs or, indeed, no religion, but they do not have the right to impose their beliefs upon others. This is as it should be, and it is the clear intent of section 116 of our constitution.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen
Sharing our wealth
Denmark and other Scandinavian countries are beating us hands down in prosperity levels (The Age, 18/11). These countries have very high taxation rates, very low levels of inequality and very low levels of population growth. Surely we can learn a few things from this and ensure that everyone is able to share our common wealth. Our race to get “richer” and consume our resources as fast as possible is just not sustainable and leaves us worse off in the short and long term.
Jennie Epstein, Little River
One day it will be me
Re “Tim Paine quits after sexting scandal” (The Age, 19/11). Via the process of elimination, and my personal decision to avoid social media, I may yet achieve my dream of captaining the Australian Test cricket team.
Mick Stojcevski, Southbank
Let’s try calm dialogue
The reason the so-called protesters on the steps of State Parliament are called “ugly extremists” (Letters, 19/11) is because that is the behaviour being exhibited. If carrying gallows through the streets and calling for the death of the Premier does not constitute ugly extremism, I do not know what does. Have your opinions and beliefs by all means, but how about engaging in some kind of rational dialogue to calmly explain your position. Something I suspect many of this lot are not capable of.
Ann Maginness, Beaumaris
Hypocrisy of the left
The left in Australia has been out in the streets protesting about one thing or another for 50years. Many protests turned ugly and violent. Burning effigies, flags, etc has been common practice. At a Black Lives Matter demonstration, a speaker urged the crowd to burn Australia down.
All politicians might want to reflect on what it must have felt like for Pauline Hanson, who, along with elderly supporters, has been jostled and threatened many times. It would appear violence is only condemned when carried out by the other side. No one has a right to make threats, but everyone has a right to protest. The hand wringing and tut-tutting in The Age’s letters pages is hypocritical to say the least.
Graham Smillie, St Andrews Beach
Very selective protests
Where were the protesters each time the federal government introduced more and more draconian security legislation? This legislation has reduced our “freedoms”, invaded our lives and increased surveillance of our day-to-day activity and yet seems to have passed without any issue.
Anne Wood, Birregurra
Andrews’ ambit claims
With the latest developments regarding Victoria’s pandemic legislation, I believe the government has played a deceptive long game.
Due to the COVID-inspired restrictions on citizens’ lives, it realised any new legislation in any form would meet fierce resistance.
Therefore, by putting up a bill with such outrageous terms, it allowed itself room to manoeuvre to a form that it originally wanted. Why did Dan Andrews not present, upfront, legislation that he thought was best for Victoria and then debate it on its merits instead of putting in an ambit claim and hoping for the best?
Patrick Hennessy, St Kilda
Our hard work rewarded
We seem to be getting ahead of the COVID-19 outbreak. Is it time for us to thank our leaders, both state and federal, for trying so hard to meet the threat?
Graham Thomas, Parkville
Same old, same old MPs
It is great to see what Josh Frydenberg really values in those he promotes as future senators to represent Victorians (The Age, 19/11). In pushing for Simon Frost to fill a vacancy, he lauds his specialty skills in “on the ground game campaigning” to win more seats. I am not sure Victorians believe these are the qualities they seek in their elected representatives. I would have thought we wanted representatives whose focus was on the needs of the people and community they represent – not on strategising the next election win to retain power.
I am heartily sick of politicians whose only qualification for office is their work in the party machine. Where are the representatives with broad, real-life experience and careers? We deserve better.
Chris Burley, Balwyn North
Let us into our parks
Wilsons Promontory is Victoria’s premier hiking destination. For many wannabe overnight hikers, it is where they go for their first hike (as I did 35years ago).
For years I have walked past unopened rolls of chicken wire sitting alongside extremely slippery boardwalks waiting to be installed by Parks Victoria. In preparing for hikes, I have often toyed with the idea of taking my own hammer and a pack full of fencing nails. Then there is the overgrown track between the Lighthouse and Waterloo Bay.
Now, with the storm damage months ago, the most popular track from Telegraph Saddle to Sealers Cove is still closed, as is the track from Tidal River to Oberon Bay camp. It is November and we are approaching the peak hiking and holiday season at the Prom.
Is Parks Victoria underfunded? Is it poor management and prioritisation? Closed tracks and its clunky booking system? I am starting to believe that Parks Victoria does not want people in “our” parks.
Jozica Kutin, Warrandyte
The duty to govern well
The Prime Minister thinks governments should not be “telling Australians what to do”. Perhaps he needs to reread the job description for parties in power. To “govern” is to control and direct the making of policy – policies that are to be followed by the citizens of the country which is being governed.
Anne Frazer, Warrnambool
Thanks very much, mate
I have decided to take advice from the Prime Minister and “get the government out of my life”. So I am going to drive on the right-hand side of the road, decide how much tax I will pay, stop paying the petrol excise, and invite my overseas friends to come and live here without needing a visa. I think my life will be simpler and easier.
Marg D’Arcy, Rye
The climate ’solution’
Of course, if the government does choose to follow the US on a warpath with China, at least it will not have to worry about meeting carbon emission targets at any subsequent time. I imagine the radioactive atmosphere will be a more pressing problem for humanity
Keith Fletcher, Kennington
Stop texting me, Craig
Another text message from serial pest Craig Kelly. I tried to respond and couldn’t. I tried to block the number and couldn’t. Is this legal?
Claire Cooper, Maldon
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Clearly Somyurek is observant of the adage that revenge is a dish best served cold.
Greg Stark, Newtown
With his weasel comments about extremists, ScoMo has proved himself to be an (under)dog whistler.
Kishor Dabke, Mount Waverley
Morrison’s backhanded support of mob behaviour is very Trumpian. A worry.
Henry Gaughan, Richmond
Morrison forgot to say “we love you” to the riotous protesters. He’s not keeping to his master’s script.
Ruben Buttigieg, Mount Martha
Both Morrison and Guy are having a bob each way.
Joan Segrave, Healesville
Somyurek and Finn should form a new party. One thing is certain: it will be a “no brainer”.
Andrew Blyth, Eaglemont
The analogy by Peter Bear’s wife – “doing a ScoMo” (18/11) – was gold. I’m going to use that one.
Pepe Salvatore, Fitzroy North
The Coalition has been a “don’t-do government’ for eight years. Oh, other than filling the pork barrels.
Anne Carroll Brighton East
Murdoch urges Trump to move on (19/11). Trump should return the favour.
Michael Hassett, Blackburn
This government smacks of House Of Cards. Double speak here, manipulation there and a blind eye to anomalies right in front of you.
Sharyn Bhalla, Ferntree Gully
Ask not what Donald Trump can do for his country. Ask what his country can do for Donald’s ego.
Kent Hansen, St Kilda
DA has gone too far in his quick crossword (19/11) and should be “reprimanded”.
Geoff Carlson, Sandringham
The next pandemic – driven by a virulent “conspiravirus”. We’ll need to go into a Facebook lockdown.
Geoff Smith, Glen Iris
We who are vaccinated have done the pandemic heavy lifting. Why should those who refuse the vaccine get the benefits?
Roger Goldsmith, Hawthorn
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