RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: This is not the path of progress to fairness

Cathy WilcoxCredit:

To submit a letter to The Age, email letters@theage.com.au. Please include your home address and telephone number.

Peter Curtis (Letters, 29/11) claims that the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill will make us “one and free”. It will do the opposite. People of faith will be able to actively discriminate against others, while not having to subject themselves to the reverse situation. Many of us will, in fact, become second-class citizens as we will be able to be legally discriminated against. Advance Australia Fair? I think not.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

No one is at liberty to discriminate
Peter Curtis makes the assertion that “freedom of religious expression is after all a foundation pillar in a free society”. The use of the word “expression” is interesting, this suggests something beyond mere belief. If by religious expression he means the wearing of funny hats, particular hairdos, beards and special clothes, well yes of course, although those from the “ban the burqa” mob may disagree.
However, if religious “expression” means that someone can discriminate against or abuse another person because their particular religion disapproves of the values of that person, then this is not OK. No one has the “liberty” to discriminate against others simply because they believe their particular set of religious beliefs are somehow superior.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen

This is not what Christians would want
The Religious Discrimination Bill presented by Prime Minister Scott Morrison really says a lot about the neo-Christians in government – that they think the freedom for religions to discriminate against others is more important than an actual integrity/ICAC bill. Actual Christians, who follow the words and actions of Jesus, wouldn’t have a bar of it.
Robyn Westwood, Heidelberg Heights

Bill should have extremely limited focus
The Religious Discrimination Bill seems strangely but aptly named. It is an attempt to embed the right of religious bodies to actively discriminate against those who do not have their particular set of religious or moral beliefs by refusing them employment or labelling them apostates, sinners or beyond redemption.
While it may be preferable to have a person of faith teaching the tenets of a particular belief system in the religious education classes, it should not be a requirement for other subjects on the curriculum. This is particularly the case where the employing institutions receive funding from a supposedly secular state with a list of basic human rights and protections already entrenched in law.
Peter Barry, Marysville

This is not the way of Jesus
As a Christian I do not feel, and have never felt, discriminated against because of my faith. And I do not discriminate, or want the right to discriminate, against others because of their faith or lack thereof, their sexuality, race or colour.
I understand that there are Christians and Christian organisations who do want the right to discriminate against others who are different in some way or other. I do not understand that. It is not the way of Jesus, who was open to, and accepting and welcoming of others, especially those who were discriminated against in his own day.
Graham McAnalley (Reverend), Vermont

Being free doesn’t mean hellfire
A bit hard to feel “one and free”, Peter Curtis, if told you’ll burn in hell for your sexual preference by some exercising “religious expression”.
Glenda Johnston, Queenscliff

FORUM

Misuse of public funds
It is bad enough that decisions on the allocation of taxpayer funds to councils or community groups relate more to political impact than relative need, but now we seem to have threats of retribution if councils dare question the case for a particular grant (″⁣Canberra threatens to cut funds if car parks stall″⁣, The Age, 29/11).
The carrot has barely been proffered when the stick is brandished.
This misuse of public funds for party political purposes is getting worse, but is only part of the corruption of public life, with the degradation of accountability, integrity and the rule of law.
The Accountability Round Table, of which I am a director, will shortly be launching, with the help of Malcolm Turnbull, a set of 21 proposals to help ensure integrity now – including but not limited to an effective national integrity commission.
Stuart Hamilton,
Richmond

A mirror to ourselves
I would prefer Paul Keating any day over the current dreadful mob (Letters, 28/11 ). He was a visionary as prime minister.
However, countries get the government they deserve, and if this government gets voted in again, sadly, it says more of the type of people we have become – grab as much as possible for ourselves now, and don’t worry about the future. Think climate change, runaway housing prices, tax cuts for high-income earners, low wage growth, huge income and wealth gap, low investments in education and health, massive government debts to name a few.
You need to get rich first because only the rich get richer. That’s what ″⁣can do capitalism″⁣ taught us.
Felicity Laing, Clayton

Taking the easy option
The headline “Support for larger 2030 cuts eases”, (26/11) is telling. As long as our target is simply “net zero by 2050″ it is only human to opt for the easiest pathway. Unfortunately we have been misled.
In 2014, the Climate Change Authority calculated that Australia’s share of the global emissions reduction needed to keep warming below 2 degrees could only be met by reductions of between 45 per cent and 60 per cent by 2030.
Since then our leaders, both elected and unelected, have advocated easier ways of getting to zero, but the resultant pathways leave too much heat-blanketing greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. The CCA calculations have never been faulted.
It’s time we faced up to the fact that any of the “easier” ways, including 26-28 per cent by 2030, will lead to Australia emitting more than our fair share of the global reductions task. Furthermore it stands to reason that, to contribute to holding warming to 1.5 instead of 2, we need to go for a steeper, more ambitious, pathway to 2030.
John Gare,
Kew East

Stop the jumps
A quick way for Racing Victoria to vastly improve racehorse welfare is to ban jumps racing (″⁣Slaughter scandal sparks call for new racehorse welfare regulator″⁣, 29/11). Victoria is the only state that continues this cruel practice, knowing full well that deaths and catastrophic injuries always occur when horses run flat out while having to jump hurdles. If other states have stopped jumps racing, why not Victoria?
Jan Kendall, Mount Martha

The force of ethics
Kudos and good wishes to Bridget Archer, who had the courage to cross the floor to stand in favour of a federal integrity commission. Ms Archer, whatever the PM, the Treasurer and the Attorney-General may have said to you, know this: you are respected and admired. If your party deselects you, run as an independent and show them that ethics can be valued more than opportunism.
Mirna Cicioni, Brunswick East

Sopranos Down Under
Two especially revealing stories in yesterday’s Age: Julia Banks calling out Scott Morrison’s bullying of Bridget Archer – which he announced as ″⁣pastoral concern for her welfare″⁣. And federal Minister for Infrastructure Paul Fletcher telling Glen Eira Council in essence that ″⁣if you don’t go along with our dodgy schemes, there will be consequences″⁣. Is this a new series of The Sopranos?
Tony Ward, Elsternwick

Promise without meaning
Is the no more lockdowns promise the most stupid thing Matthew Guy has ever said? Promising an action to an unknown future pandemic (for example, think of a newer deadlier form of Ebola) would go against all medical advice and is meaningless.
Dr Ralph Frank, Malvern East

Lives, not points
Scott Morrison often talks about how his daughters might feel in certain situations. Now it’s my turn. My teenage granddaughter and her friend went on a long-awaited trip to the city on Saturday. Needing to get to the train station for the trip home, they found themselves having to walk through a mostly unmasked, belligerent mob of protesters.
On the train home, it was more of the same – an unruly, unmasked crowd returning from the protests, boasting loudly about being unvaccinated. Picking them up from the train station, I found two shaken, tearful girls who were worried about having contracted COVID and fearful of passing it on their grandparents.
So Prime Minister, might this be a good time to think of your girls again? If they would feel threatened in a similar situation, perhaps now you would unequivocally condemn those putting innocent lives at risk, rather than opportunistically scoring political points.
Jill Rosenberg,
Caulfield South

Money for nothing
When the fires came, the Prime Minister went on holiday leaving the CFA to manage the crisis, but without the water bombers it had been requesting. When the pandemic came, the Prime Minister left the state premiers to manage the crisis, but without suitable quarantine facilities and then without available vaccines. Now we have a climate crisis and the Prime Minister is apparently leaving business to work out how to meet our 2050 aspirations but without a legislative framework or tax policies that supports them.
Are we not entitled to wonder why we are paying a six-figure executive salary plus lifetime perks to a man who repeatedly refuses to do his job?
Kairen Harris, Brunswick

Human rights first
The Morrison government is to be commended for tackling the issue of entirely anonymous identities online. It is OK that a person does not have to reveal their identity online publicly. However, the platform provider needs to know who they are to assist legitimate law enforcement activities. Currently, large numbers of child sex predators can set up multiple anonymous identities to groom children. Police can spend weeks or months trying to identify such people to protect children from sexual abuse.
Online anonymity assists brutal regimes overseas. For example, the experience of our partner church in the Philippines is that online anonymity allows those associated with the security forces to make death threats against human rights defenders. They also encourage others online to murder the human rights defenders.
Female human rights defenders regularly find themselves the target of rape threats and threats against their families by anonymous perpetrators.
On balance, eliminating anonymous online identities will enhance human rights.
Dr Mark Zirnsak, Senior Social Justice Advocate, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, Uniting Church in Australia

Your view, your name
Requiring companies like Twitter and Facebook to provide the names of anonymous online trolls is a cumbersome and overly legalistic way to reduce unsavoury content on social media (″⁣How the new social media laws work″⁣. 29/11).
The Resolve Poll shows 70 per cent of the population agree that anonymous social media accounts should be made illegal. So, rather than requiring an individual to lodge a complaint in order to access the identity of a troll, simply shut down anonymous accounts. A holder of a previously anonymous account would be free to then start a new account under their own name.
If a comment is worth saying, it is worth putting your name to.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills

Tasmania, take a bow
Thank you Tasmania for Jacqui Lambie and Andrew Wilkie. Two striking examples of why we should have more, not less, independents in Parliament.
Michael Langford, Ivanhoe

Tackle the hesitancy
Global vaccine poverty is very real, but so is vaccine hesitancy. The WHO puts it down to the overlapping circles of complacency, confidence and convenience, but what it boils down to is a concerted campaign through social media outlets to spread a fear of COVID vaccination based on misinformation. We’ve seen the emotions generated in our own (supposedly) educated modern community. We can only imagine the widespread angst such a campaign would cause in less sophisticated societies.
While vaccine availability may be a factor in the uncontrolled spread and consequential mutation of the virus, vaccine hesitancy, and the driving forces behind it, will have to be called out and dealt with before we have any hope of taking control of this pandemic.
John Mosig, Kew

No laughing matter
This out of touch federal government has required a public servant to demand that states withdraw from a global emissions reduction initiative until the Commonwealth approves of it. Were the situation not so perilous we could laugh. We can’t laugh. The states should double down.
Trevor Martin,
St Leonards

AND ANOTHER THING

COVID-19
COVID has certainly improved my knowledge of the Greek alphabet.
Alan Cooper, Ashburton

There are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet. I hope the world doesn’t have to endure more variants before we reach the last letter Omega in order to see the end of this pandemic.
Dora Houpis, Richmond

Politics
The illuminating article by Julia Banks (Comment, 29/11) exposes the tag-team behaviour of Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg as ruthless, cunning and deceptive.
Peter Knight, St Arnaud

I feel much safer now, knowing “Digger Dutton” will be leading our military in WWIII.
John O’Hara, Mount Waverley

From “counselling” rebellious backbenchers to threatening recalcitrant car-park councils, the PM and his team are past masters at coercive control.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

While the Prime Minister vows to crack down on anonymous trolling, he might also consider cracking down on anonymous donations to politicians through blind trusts.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch

Scott Morrison is concerned about the identity of those who use social media, but not those who donated $1 million to Christian Porter’s legal fees.
Sarah Russell, Mt Martha

John Howard said there would never ever be a GST under his government. Matthew Guy might take notice of the outcome of that promise.
Ian Dale, Rosebud

Methinks Matthew Guy, ″⁣vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself, and falls on th’other″⁣ is making you say anything to win the election.
Wilma Buccella, Hawthorn East

Finally
Bad news about Omicron on page one yesterday, but good to see a fluffy kitten on page two.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

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