Weekend Wrap for 27 September 2020

Voluntary assisted dying is making headlines right across the country. Catch up on all the developments on that issue and more in our latest Weekend Wrap of secular news and views from the past week.

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

At the National Level

The correct answer for question 7 of the Morrison government’s revamped citizenship test affirms that Australia’s government is secular (9 News).

With the surge in demand for voluntary assisted dying laws across Australia, the Vatican has declared the end-of-life-option as ‘intrinsically evil’ and urged priests to change the minds of people contemplating accessing such laws (Independent).

In a message to the Jewish community to mark Yom Kippur, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that, in the face of uncertainty, “we know there’s great strength in reflection, prayer and charity” (Australian Jewish Network).

Around the Country

TAS: Following the passage of his bill to the committee stage in the Legislative Council, Independent Mike Gaffney has, in a radio interview, said that he expected some amendments to be made to strengthen the voluntary assisted dying bill prior to a vote (ABC, listen from the 1 hour and 34 minute mark).

TAS: An anti-euthanasia group has labelled Mike Gaffney’s claims of having consulted widely on his voluntary assisted dying bill as a ‘myth’ (The Advocate).

TAS: Former GP and now Labor MLC Bastain Seidel has reflected on the death of one of his patients in an emotional speech to parliament in support of the voluntary assisted dying bill (The Advocate).

TAS: Liberal MLC Jane Howlet questioned whether it was the right time to consider what she described as legalising a form of suicide, arguing that parliament should focus on dealing with the pandemic (The Mercury).

QLD: The My Life My Choice coalition advocating voluntary assisted dying laws for Queensland is canvassing all state election candidates to determine the strength of their support for better end-of-life choices.

QLD: Members and volunteers of the St Vincent de Paul Society have been reminded in a training bulletin of their organisation’s commitment to promote “the culture of life” and the need to take a stand against voluntary assisted dying in the lead-up to the state election (Catholic Leader).

QLD: Following the death of union boss Peter Simpson, his daughter has taken aim at Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for failing to pass voluntary assisted dying legislation (News Mail).

QLD: Bundaberg LNP member of parliament David Batt has refused to reveal his position on voluntary assisted dying during a tense meeting with local residents (Sunshine Coast Daily).

SA: A group advocating for voluntary assisted dying laws to be introduced in the state has met with many members of parliament.

NT: The wife of the first person who accessed the territory’s euthanasia laws before the federal government overturned them has said that more needs to be done to give back the right for Territorians to choose (NT News).

VIC: The family of an elderly Victorian woman who chose to end her life through voluntary assisted dying has demanded an apology from a Catholic author for misrepresenting their mother’s death, saying that accusations made in an article “dishonoured” their mother’s memory (Go Gentle Australia).

SA: Legislation to provide 150m buffer zones around medical clinics conducting abortions has passed the state’s Legislative Assembly, with proposed amendments to allow ‘silent prayer’ within the zones being defeated (ABC).

SA: The Australian Christian Lobby criticised the passing of the Health Care (Safe Access) Amendment Bill 2020, arguing that it relied on “unsubstantiated allegations of abuse and harassment near abortion clinics” (ACL).

VIC: In a letter to Premier Daniel Andrews, Catholic bishops have questioned why churches and worship centres are “being discriminated against” compared to other venues under the state’s COVID-19 lockdown measures (Catholic Weekly).

NSW: The Emmanuel Baptist Church has launched an online petition calling for the state government to ease restrictions currently placed on places of worship (Eternity News).

NSW: Equality Australia has launched a campaign calling for Premier Gladys Berejiklian to reject One Nation ‘religious freedom’ bill, saying the legislation would elevate religious belief above other human rights.

VIC: The Australian Christian Lobby has set up an automated email campaign to put pressure on members of parliament to block the efforts of Reason Party Leader Fiona Pattern to remove Christian chaplains from public schools.

VIC: The Australian Christian Lobby has been accused of targeting the LGBTIQ community “with their intolerance and bigotry” after issuing a survey to council election candidates asking whether same-sex parenting is against children’s rights.

NSW: Leaders of several elite, private, faith-based schools are condemning their students behind ‘muck-up day’ plans involving criminal activities (SMH).

Commentary and Analysis

In this editorial, The Examiner has labelled as “contemptible” the accusations that Mike Gaffney has failed to consult widely enough on his voluntary assisted dying bill.

If the latest efforts to legalise voluntary assisted dying in Tasmania fail again, the issue will return within a couple of years, argues Heather Dunn, a member of Dying With Dignity (The Mercury).

Conservative Senator Eric Abetz draws on the analogy of the death penalty to question giving to the state the power to allow assisted dying (The Examiner).

The Catholic Church’s election statement for political leaders and voters in Queensland recognises the value of the lives of all people, whether at the start or end of their lives, writes Mark Bowling (Catholic Leader).

Pastor Brad Chilcott writes that silent prayer outside abortion clinics represents the 'weaponisation' of a spiritual practice and the deployment of prayer for the purpose of public shaming (The Advertiser).

In explaining why she quit the Nationals, Jessica Price-Purnell writes that a hardening of ideology means the party is no longer a ‘broad church’ (The Age).

Lawyer Michael Bradley writes that the seal of the confessional is no excuse for a priest not reporting sexual abuse (Crikey).

A year on from the decriminalisation of abortion in New South Wales, Catholic media writer Monica Doumit warns that politicians who want to try a similar ploy with voluntary assisted dying or “attacks on religious freedom” will be doing so at their own peril (Catholic Weekly).

Greg Bondar, a former senior advisor to a Howard government minister, writes that, by saying ‘God Bless Australia’, Christians can “advance the just and peaceable realm for all” and “pass on our faith so that more and more of us seek to be a blessing” (Eternity News).

The poor behaviour of private schoolboys isn’t surprising when the investment of wasteful amounts of both public and private resources encourages a mindset of entitlement and exclusion among such children, writes Jane Caro (The Big Smoke).

Catholic Archbishop Peter Comensoli writes that, during the lockdown in Victoria, people of faith have been able to “draw on something that does not depend entirely on other people” (SMH).

That's it for another week!

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