Major Parties Don’t Deserve Equality

Australian Marriage Equality today released a statement on the major parties’ position on same-sex marriage.  Peter Furness, the National Secretary said:

For people who want to vote for equality the choice is clearly not the Coalition or Labor

The Secular Party was amongst the minor parties commended for their stance on marriage equality.  Read the party’s statement.

Here’s the full release:

AME Media release- major parties don’t deserve equality vote

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Climate Change

The major parties in Australia have been a big disappointment when it comes to climate change.  A well recognised problem is being left unattended, and while there is talk about introducing taxes, putting money into alternatives, nothing is really happening.

The Secular Party has a plan,  we recognise that global warming is significant and a dire, immediate threat to global civilisation.  We need to dramatically reduce our global carbon dioxide emissions.  We must introduce a carbon tax, nationally and internationally.

We have to also tax our coal-fired power stations.  An International Coal Tax needs to be levied on all coal exports, in conjunction with other coal exporters.

The revenue from these new taxes would help us fund the huge investment in alternative energy production.

While the Greens, the Libs and the Labor Parties faff around trying to come to a consensus, you can send a message to them by voting 1 for the Secular Party.  We have a policy that’s ready to go, a policy that is far better than the Greens, a policy that will help our world recover.  It’s better than waiting for God to come help.

Full details of the policy are available on our website.

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Education Funding

The Labor Government has continued to fund Catholic and Independent schools to the tune of $63 billion1 .

The Australian Education Union believes that the funding arrangement delivers one third of the funding to government schools that teach two thirds of all children.

The Secular Party of Australia understands the importance of public education, and to provide effective outcomes our system needs to be adequately and properly funded.  It’s time to move away from funding private schools so directly and instead move to a system of rebates directly to families that choose a private education.  The rebate would be based on the cost of educating students in the public sector.

The Greens are keen to placate the Catholic Schools, backing away from their policy to reduce private school funding 2 and the Catholic Church again shows why we need to separate church and state when it’s director of Catholic Education says that a cut in funding would mean that Catholic Schools would loose the ability to be “catholic”3

Only the Secular Party of Australia has a fair system of private education funding.  We fully accept that some people may choose faith based education over secular education, but only the Secular Party would fund students and not schools, by providing rebates to directly to parents and not to the school, allowing an equitable funding to all.  The religious and independent schools would then need to fund their own school through fees and fund raising, not government handouts.

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  1.  Prime Minister Gillard announced the extension of funding agreements until 2014 SOURCE
  2. School policy fractures Greens The Age 15 Aug 2010
  3. Stephen Elder – quoted in The Age 15 Aug 2010 The Melbourne director of Catholic Education, Stephen Elder, wrote last week that Greens policies would “force school closures, increase fees and change the ability of Catholic schools to be genuinely Catholic”.
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Secularism in the Jewish Community

Galus Australis has picked up an article that I co-authored with John August1.  The article talks about the importance of the separation of religion and state, the impact of the mostly Christian chaplaincy program and the effect of having a government funded religious education.

Get along and have a read.

  1.  John is the Secular Party candidate for Wentworth
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Same-sex Marriage – Where is Danby?

On Saturday  Equal Love ran rallies across Australia to highlight the issue of same-sex marriage.

On August 13th 2004 the then Howard Government inserted into the Marriage Act a clause that made marriage between one man and one woman, the Labor party supported the legislation.

Gregory Storer - Secular Party - at the Equal Love Rally - Aug 14 2010

Gregory Storer - Secular Party - at the Equal Love Rally - Aug 14 2010

The Liberal and Labor Parties have to date refused to make any move on the issue.  At the recent Candidates Forum Danby said that he supported same-sex marriage, and yet the Prime Minister continues to tell us that the policy of the Labor Party will not be changing, Ekendahl also promised to cross the floor to vote in favour of ‘equality’ although he gave no undertaking to vote for ‘marriage’ for all.

Yesterday, where were they?  For all their talk about how important this is, the people of Melbourne Ports are entitled to know why they weren’t leading the charge with their placards of nicely snapped portraits with their “VOTE FOR ME!”   It would have been an uncomfortable march for them, but it really would have shown the community how important they think equality is.  They could have explained their personal position and then explained how they will change the unfair law within their parties.

The Secular Party of Australia is the only party that will deliver equality for all, we firmly believe that the separation of religion and state is needed to stop religion influencing our laws.

The continued attack on the equality of all Australians by the Catholic Church, the Australian Christian Lobby and Family First needs to be kept in check.  Our laws need to be made on secular grounds, with rational reason.  Nobody is asking, or expecting, the churches to embrace ‘gay’ marriage, but the law must be for all Australains, not a law that Christians wish to enforce on everyone.

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A Free Press – The Australian Jewish News

There’s no such thing really!  I understand the importance of the media in Australia, but at the end of the day the media is mostly in private hands, and basically they can print what they want, and more importantly, leave out the bits they don’t like.

The Australian Jewish News is a very small newspaper that has virtually no readership outside the Jewish community.  I’ve tried to get myself into the paper as they have been heavily promoting the election for Liberal and Labor, and in the last edition included a bit on the Greens (although the editorial was very anti-green).  They have no problems in accepting advertising from the major parties, no doubt this has been a major boost to their bottom line.

I spoke on the phone to Naomi Levin, Deputy Editor (News) who had no hesistation telling me that the AJN was a religious paper and that they wouldn’t be giving me or the Secular Party any coverage.

Strikes me as a bit strange.  I’m aware that there are a number of Jewish people who actually think the separation of church and state is a really good idea.  I’m aware of a number of secular Jews who might have liked to find out more about who else is standing in their local electorates.

The Jewish News has shown it’s bias, has clearly demonstrated that they alone are the guardians on who knows what in the Jewish community, they have deliberately chosen to censor anyone who they think may offend some of their readers.  Levin told me point blank that those secular Jews should just go read this information somewhere else.

This is not a newspaper that wants to report the news, this is a newspaper that wants to direct people to think their way and only their way.

Elections are important times for our democracy in Australia.  This censorship by the AJN is unwarranted, treats their readership like children who are unable to make up their own minds, displays a bias towards those with the money and deliberately sets out to stifle any other information that some of their readership may find useful.

Just for the record, I’ve been reading the Jewish News for two years.  They consistently run a range of stories that are not ‘religious’ in content and that is amongst some of the content that really gets up people’s noses at times.

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Danby announces support for Same-sex Marriage

The Melbourne Ports Candidate Forum last night was a great opportunity to answer some questions and for me to explain a bit about the Secular Party and our policies.

There were several questions about gay rights, and again I challenged Danby to take that one extra step and support same-sex marriage. He has not come out and publicly declared his position before, but with three gay candidates up on the stage he clearly felt the pressure to say something:

“I’m not saying that at this election that I support changing the legislation for gay marriage but it’s coming and in the next government I will expect there will be serious movement within the Labor party on that issue and I know a number of other people apart from myself will be running with it. “

It’s gratifying to know that the Labor Party is re-examining it’s position on same-sex marriage and if they are returned to government we can look forward to a significant change to the Labor Party policy.

The Liberal Candidate for Melbourne Ports is also in favour of gay marriage, and has stated that he would cross the floor to vote in support of equal rights.

Media Release – Danby Announces Labor Party Policy Shift on Same-Sex Marriage

Candidates Forum - Melbourne Ports

Gregory Storer at the Candidates Forum St Kilda Town Hall

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Equal Rights for All

Australia has it’s first female Prime Minister.  It’s a great move forward for Australia.

So many women in our society are still treated as second-class citizens, whether it’s Tony Abbott telling us that a woman’s virginity is a gift, a church organisation discriminating against pregnant single women, or young girls being told they have to find a man within their faith.  Discrimination abounds.

The Secular Party of Australia has a clear policy on personal freedoms. We recognise that faith-based morality frequently seeks to impose it’s religious views on the entire population, especially when it comes to women.

Faith-based philosophies are likely to try to restrict a woman’s access to proper medical treatment for unwanted pregnancy, they are more likely to dictate the terms of marriage and some faiths have specific laws regarding what clothes are unacceptable to wear.

The Secular Party upholds that all men and women are equal and that equality is a fundamental human right.  We will work toward a secular Australia where all citizens are treated equally.

I call on the current Melbourne Ports representative Michael Danby and Liberal candidate Kevin Ekendahl to join me in giving unqualified support to equal rights for all women, regardless of their religious affiliation or personal circumstances.

It’s not too much to ask, is it?

A vote for me will send a clear message that you value equal rights in a fair and secular Australia.

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No to the Chaplaincy Program!

The Howard Government provided $165,000,000 for the National School Chaplaincy Program.1  The current government has extended the life of the Howard program to 2011 pouring an extra $42,800,000 into it.2.  This is the state funding religion directly into the schools, offering the chance for mostly Christian churches to place their chaplains directly into the schools to offer “spiritual guidance”.  Money that could surely be spent on proper counselling and support services by suitably qualified practitioners.

The National School Chaplaincy Association in their research findings 3 found that 95% of chaplains reported dealing with behaviour management issues such as anger, 92% with bully and harassment, 91% with student family relationship issues, there were also self esteem issues, grief and loss and 44% dealt with self harm and suicide. The report then goes on to indicate that few of the chaplains have training as psychologists or counsellors.  In fact, most of them have qualifications in theology, pastoral care or children’s/youth work4

In their submission to the consultation process for the National School Chaplaincy Program, the Australian Psychological Society raises serious doubts about the skill level of the chaplains, and their abilities to deal with very complex personal matters. They say that the government is supporting a scheme that allows unregistered and unqualified school chaplains to work outside their boundaries of spirituality and religion.  They also say in the report that their is clear evidence that school chaplains are engaging in duties for which they are not qualified.5

I also note that the NSCA lists the church backgrounds of the chaplains, and they all appear Christian.

Chaplains come from a wide range of church backgrounds, from the mainstream Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox and Uniting denominations through to the congregationally-oriented Baptists and Churches of Christ to some of the newer Pentecostal and charismatic denominations. No one denomination was dominant in this mix.6

There doesn’t appear to be much outside the mainstream Christian church,which must be a worry for other denominations.

The Secular Party of Australia policy is that the National School Chaplaincy Program be replaced with a program supporting qualified counsellors in schools.

The electors of Melbourne Ports should ask what Michael Danby has done to ensure that all his constituents are treated fairly, that no single religion is treated differently.

A vote for the Secular Party of Australia is a vote to remove the special privileges that Christianity has in our political system.  Removing religion from state allows all to follow their personal beliefs without government funding or favouritism.  Our schools need properly trained counsellors and psychologists, not chaplains.

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  1. Under the Program $165 million over three years has been made available for government and non-government schools to establish school chaplaincy services Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations FAQ
  2. The Australian Government will provide an additional $42.8 million to extend the NSCP for all participating schools until December 2011. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
  3. The Effectiveness of Chaplaincy Research findings, “Chaplains Activities National School Chaplaincy Association
  4. The Effectiveness of Chaplaincy Research findings, The Background of Chaplains – full report, p.14 National School Chaplaincy Association
  5. Submission to the Consultation Process for the National School Chaplaincy Program – Concerns about the NSCP – page 3 The Australian Psychological Society Ltd.
  6. The Effectiveness of Chaplaincy Research findings, The Background of Chaplains – full report, p.15 National School Chaplaincy Association
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Coming Up

I’ll be on The Conch – a community forum on Joy 94.9  on Monday August 2nd between 10.30 and 11.00 a.m.

You can listen in on the radio or stream on the net from

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