Weekend Wrap for 14 November 2021

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 14 November 2021, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

At the National Level

Around the Country

NSW: Debate began in parliament this week on a bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying in the state after the government took the unusual step of directing parliament to sit on a Friday, in the hope that the legislation will be dealt with in the Lower House this year. (ABC News)

NSW: NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has conceded he failed in his role as Treasurer to adequately fund palliative care -- and promises to fix the system rather than allow voluntary assisted dying. (SMH)

NSW: NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet will argue against voluntary assisted dying when a long-touted bill is debated in Parliament on Friday, insisting more should be done to improve palliative care for those with a terminal illness. (SMH)

NSW: Advocates and medical practitioners have stressed the need for better support for palliative care across NSW, as the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill re-enters State Parliament on Friday. (SMH)

NSW: A majority of voters in western and southwestern Sydney say they support voluntary assisted dying laws that are set to be debated in parliament, according to a poll. (The Australian; paywalled)

NSW: Bega MP Andrew Constance warns delaying a vote on voluntary assisted dying could see it become a byelection issue as high-profile lobby groups launch a major campaign to back the proposed bill. (The Age)

VIC: An article on the personal experience of Victoria’s new Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner, Ro Allen, with gay conversion therapy, performed on them in the style of an 'exorcism' in a church in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs at age 16. (SMH)

NSW: New South Wales will allow courts to break unfair settlements forced on child sexual abuse survivors by churches and other institutions and will allow them to bypass gag orders preventing them from speaking out publicly. (The Guardian)

NSW: Factions in the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) are wrangling in the Supreme court over a fresh set of elections to determine who controls the party as part of a case brought by a former treasurer Charles Knox. (Eternity News)

QLD: A complaint of discrimination by the Noosa Temple of Satan, after Australia Post refused to print Satanic-themed stamps for them, has been rejected by the Queensland Human Rights Commission on the grounds that the design "could be seen as ridiculing the Christian religion, and [be] potentially unlawful." (Noosa Temple of Satan)

NSW: The latest in a series of court cases about vaccine mandates brought against state governments and health authorities -- in this case based on religious objection -- went down to defeat this week in the NSW Supreme Court. (Eternity News)

NSW: Labor Opposition Leader Chris Minns and Shadow Minister for Education Prue Carr gave warm personal endorsements of the importance of SRE, emphasising Labor’s historic role in enshrining its place in the state’s public schools. (Eternity News)

Commentary and Analysis

Rodney Croome writes on Tasmania's "comprehensive discrimination laws [that] have also helped create safe, faith-based working environments for LGBTIQ+ staff" in light of Victoria's attempts to update their discrimination laws. (The Age)

Andrew P Street suggests that the Morrison Government could use the proposed Religious Freedom Bill as a political weapon against Labor in the upcoming election. (Independent Australia)

Meredith Doig of the Rationalist Society of Australia writes that as the number of Australians identifying as “spiritual but not religious” has grown in recent times, so too have attempts to add such people in with counts of the religious. (ABC)

Dr Bernadette Tobin argues that to legalise voluntary assisted dying is to legalise a practice that predictably and inevitably expands. (Catholic Weekly)

Bernard Keane: "The claim that Hillsong figure Brian Houston was invited to the Trump White House by Scott Morrison and was rejected was dismissed by the prime minister as 'gossip'. But eventually he was forced to tell the truth." (Crikey)

Parnell Palme McGuinness writes that while she supports VAD, the removal of those who conscientiously object means there is less ongoing challenging of safeguards. (The Age)

Mehmet Ozalp writes that the Islamic ideal of "care of creation" means that taking action on climate change is an Islamic obligation. (The Conversation)

John Sandeman and Wendy Francis (of the ACL) draw links between NT laws that increase access to late term abortions and NSW's "Zoe’s law", which seeks to punish crimes that cause loss of an unborn foetus. (Eternity News)

Archbishop Anthony Fisher puts forward an argument against a VAD lobby claim that 20 per cent of suicides in people aged over 40 are associated with a terminal illness. (Catholic Weekly)

Events and Advisories

Sign up for a webinar presented by the Rationalist Society of Australia on 24 November -- guest speakers Dr Nick Carr and Penny Hackett will present on the journey of reform since the Victorian parliament legalised VAD in 2017 and on the path ahead, with final hurdles remaining in New South Wales and the territories.

Watch a reply of the Rationalist Society of Australia webinar featuring Rev. Dr Elenie Poulos and Professor Marion Maddox, "Unpacking the religious freedom agenda".

Sign up to the #DontDivideUs campaign currently being run by a group of pro-secular groups including the NSL, to act against the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill.

Minister for Human Rights, Tara Cheyne, is running a petition calling on the Australian government to restore the right of Territories to pass laws on VAD. She also recommends people email the Commonwealth Attorney-General with their views, at attorney@ag.gov.au.

Dying With Dignity NSW are petitioning the NSW Parliament to work together to deliver voluntary assisted dying laws.

Dying With Dignity NSW has a tool that makes it easy for people to contact their federal MPs and senators to request help in repealing the "Andrews Bill", the 1997 legislation which denies the Territories the right to pass legislation on Voluntary Assisted Dying.

The Human Rights for NSW alliance has launched a campaign calling for NSW to pass a Human Rights Act.

That's it for another week!

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