Weekend Wrap for 28 February 2021

Federal Labor steps up its outreach efforts to Christian voters. Catch up on that and more in the latest Weekend Wrap of secular news and views.

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

In an address to Christian groups, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese assured them that Labor values align with Christian values (Eternity News).

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described himself as “a secular leader with an open faith” when he met with Christian leaders to discuss how they can help the nation in post-COVID recovery efforts (Eternity News).

In a webinar with conservative group FamilyVoice, Liberal MP Kevin Andrews revealed that Attorney-General Christian Porter has prepared a new “compromise” draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill (Star Observer).

Former Prime Minister John Howard has rejected suggestions that religious freedom is under attack in Australia, warning in a webinar that such claims risked “losing credibility” (Rationalist Society of Australia).

In the webinar with FamilyVoice, John Howard said religious schools needed greater protections in teaching the principles of their faith and in employing people who adhere to their beliefs (The Guardian).

Health experts are urging religious leaders to publicly support the COVID-19 vaccine to dispel misinformation circulating among ethnic communities and to make their churches and mosques available as mass immunisation centres (The Age).

The Anglican Church’s General Synod, which was preparing to deal with the issue of blessing same-sex civil marriages, has been postponed due to travel restrictions and uncertainty around COVID-19 (Eternity News).

Federal Liberal MP Dr Katie Allen made an emotional case in support of voluntary assisted dying laws on the Q+A program, recalling her father's final years of life (Daily Mail).

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils has backed international calls for China to be stripped of the Winter Olympics over human rights abuses involving the Uyghurs.

Around the Country

TAS: An independent report into the state’s proposed voluntary assisted dying law has found it to be “among safest in the world”, as the lower house of the parliament gets ready to debate the legislation this week (ABC).

TAS: Mersey independent MLC Mike Gaffney said the expert panel's review of his voluntary assisted dying legislation should give parliamentarians confidence in proceeding with the bill, while some government members who oppose voluntary assisted dying used the report to suggest the bill has shortcomings (The Examiner).

TAS: Catholic Health Australia has written to Labor leader Rebecca White to urge her MPs to support institutional exemptions to allow health and aged care providers to refuse to take part in voluntary assisted dying (The Australian).

TAS: The Australian Christian Lobby has urged Tasmania’s lower house not to rush legislation on what it describes as “assisted suicide”.

QLD: The Queensland Law Reform Commission, which is the body drafting voluntary assisted dying legislation for the state, has flagged it may not be able to complete the work by its May deadline (ABC).

QLD: The state’s proposed voluntary assisted dying scheme would be available only to people “suffering and dying” and not those wanting to die because they are “tired of life or in decline”, the state’s law reform body has said (The Australian).

SA: Former senator Bob Day has vowed that his Australian Family Party would work to unseat key Liberal MPs at next year’s state election for their voting record on abortion decriminalisation earlier this month (FamilyVoice).

TAS: Launceston’s Free Reform Church has admitted in a public submission that it made “no apologies” for engaging in conversion therapy practices to alter the sexuality or gender identity of LGBTIQ people (Out in Perth).

WA: The conservative FamilyVoice group is urging the state’s political parties to hold a parliamentary inquiry into the Labor government’s silence on the death of ‘born-alive babies’ left to die after abortion procedures.

That's it for another week!

Until next time, please follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

We need your help now more than ever! If you can, please consider making a small, recurring monthly donation to support the National Secular Lobby. Every dollar helps!

Don't forget to add your voice to the #DontDivideUs campaign against the Religious Discrimination Bill.