Weekend Wrap for 10 August 2019

Catch up on news and analysis in the secular space from the past week! With the WA parliament set to debate voluntary assisted dying (VAD) and the NSW parliament situated in the midst of passing an abortion rights bill, there’s a lot to mull over.

Don’t forget that the Weekend Wrap, which aims to help secular-minded Australians keep abreast of news, is also published on our Facebook page!

The National View

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has met with 21 religious leaders to discuss the planned religious freedom legislation. A Jewish representative hailed the meeting, saying, “There cannot be many other countries in the world in which the head of government can have a constructive conversation...with such a diverse range of faith community leaders on as sensitive a topic as religious freedom and discrimination” (J-Wire).

Equality advocates have questioned why the Prime Minister has not provided similar opportunities for the LGBTIQ community to discuss with him the government’s proposed legislation (Star Observer).

The Human Rights Law Alliance, which is closely aligned to the Australian Christian Lobby, has suggested that the religious freedom of pharmacists is denied if they can’t turn away transgender people (Out in Perth).

Anglican priest Rod Bower told a crowd of people protesting the government’s pending religious freedom legislation that the Australian Christian Lobby does not represent most Christians (Star Observer).

More rallies against religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws are planned for capital cities during August (Star Observer).

Mental health support services are worried about the potential impact of public debate over religious freedom on queer youth (The Saturday Paper).

Around the Country

NSW: A new conservative Christian group is aiming to recruit 5000 Christians to the Liberal Party in an effort to take control of the party’s state division. NSW Reformers’ manifesto notes that conservative Christians cannot afford to flee the major parties as “this will forever reduce [us] to a minor influence in society with very little ability to determine legislation (SMH).

NSW: Health Minister Brad Hazzard argued that the parliament was righting a wrong from 119 years ago as members of the lower house voted in support of decriminalising abortion (The New Daily).

NSW: The Uniting Church has broken ranks with other religious institutions to throw its support behind decriminalising abortion, arguing in an open letter that it was a health and social issue (The Guardian).

NSW: Conservative members of the Liberal Party are grumbling about the role of Premier Gladys Berejiklian in supporting the passing of abortion legislation in the lower house, claiming she has “lost capital” (SMH).

NSW: Reverend Don Richardson described the decriminalisation of abortion as “another attack on the conscience rights of Catholics” and urged parishioners to contact their local MPs to remind them that they were “accountable to us in the short term and to God...in the end” (ABC).

WA: The government looks set to introduce VAD legislation into the parliament, leading to some concerns that it is being rushed in order to get it off the agenda by next year (WA Today).

WA: With the chances high for VAD laws passing the parliament, Premier Mark McGowan has called on conservative MPs not to filibuster or unnecessarily hold up a vote (ABC).

WA: Church leaders are warning of VAD being the “thin end of the wedge” – a claim rejected by the state’s Buddhist Council, which is supportive of the government’s proposed legislation (ABC).

QLD: A new petition calling on the parliament to act on VAD legislation before the next state election is quickly gathering signatures (Courier Mail).

VIC: The daughters of Kerry Robertson, who became the first person to access the state’s new VAD laws, described her death as “beautiful and peaceful" (ABC).

VIC: Catholic groups have condemned the historic first use of VAD laws, arguing that Kerry Robertson’s death was being politicised in claims of it being a compassionate choice (Catholic Weekly).

Commentary and Analysis

While Western Australia’s VAD laws are set to have many similarities with Victoria’s, the process to access the end-of-life option won’t be as complicated. Ben White, Katrine Del Villar, Lindy Willmott and Rebecca Meehan compares the differences (The Conversation).

Michael Pelly explores whether the outcome of public servant Michaela Banerji’s failed High Court case carries any implications for sacked rugby player Israel Folau (AFR).

That's it for another week!

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