The SA Labor government has quietly introduced a bill to almost eliminate preferential voting for the upper house

Last week, while media and most South Australians were focused on the euthanasia debate, SA Attorney-General John Rau quietly introduced the Electoral (Legislative Council Voting) (Voter Choice) Amendment Bill.  He incorporated most of his speech on 16/11/16 into Hansard p 7867 instead of reading it out.

“I and others are deeply concerned about the impact of this legislation if it passes both houses with Liberal Party support,” FamilyVoice South Australia director David d’Lima said today.

“The bill would eliminate voting tickets and private preference deals by ‘micro parties’ – that is a good thing,” he said.  “But instead of adopting the new Senate voting system, where people are required to number six parties above the line in order of their preference, the SA proposal would restrict people to voting for just one party above the line.  If they want to preference other parties as well, they would have to number every single box below the line – but few would do so.

“The result would be in effect, a ‘first past the post’ voting system,” Mr d’Lima said.  “The bill would make it very difficult for minor party candidates to gain seats. This would deprive parliament of significant minority views that deserve to be heard.”

Both Labor and Liberal parties are said to support the bill, believing it would give them more power.  “This view is short-sighted,” David d’Lima said.  “I urge them to think again!”  

Pro-life MPs Vincent Tarzia and Stephan Knoll (centre, rear) with some ‘Choose Life’ supporters outside the public gallery

FamilyVoice South Australia director David d’Lima has congratulated South Australian House of Assembly MPs who “chose life” by voting early this morning to reject a bill to legalise euthanasia.

David d’Lima was the lone member of the public in the public gallery when the third reading vote came at about 4 am.  Speaker Michael Atkinson used his casting “no” vote to maintain the status quo after the vote was tied, 23:23.

Mr Atkinson had taken an active part in the debate while Deputy Speaker Frances Bedford was in the chair, leading a clause-by-clause attack on the Death with Dignity Bill . 

“The Speaker’s first amendment – to change the bill’s ‘propaganda’ title to a more neutral Assisted Dying Bill – was successful,” David d’Lima said.  “This move demoralised and rattled the bill’s sponsor Duncan McFetridge and other pro-euthanasia MPs. 

“Labor MP Chris Picton worked hard to improve the bill with a number of amendments – but despite a 27:19 second reading vote, a majority decided that the bill’s final wording did not provide sufficient protection for vulnerable people.” 

Large child abuse study finds kids are safest in family with married biological parents

FamilyVoice South Australia director David d’Lima is asking state MPs to vote against a bill that would allow singles and same-sex couples to adopt children.

“A very large US study of child abuse of all kinds looked at substantiated reports in six different family types, among other factors,” Mr d’Lima said today.  “It found that by far the safest family type was where children were raised by their two married biological parents.  The most dangerous type was where one biological parent was cohabiting with an unrelated person. 

“Children released for adoption have suffered incredible loss,” he said.  “They cannot be raised by their married biological parents, but they deserve married adoptive parents with both mum and dad role models – the second-safest family type.”

David d’Lima said that fathers tend to parent differently from mothers, and that both are important.

“Gender matters,” he said.  “Men are different from women, and not only in their genitals.  For this reason I hope that the SA parliament will again reject moves to allow people to change the sex on their birth certificates, merely by presenting a GP’s letter saying they have received counselling.

“Such a move would trivialise what it means to be a man or a woman.  It would weaken current protections for women.  It would be a retrograde step for South Australia.”

Parents choose faith-based schools, expecting that all staff will uphold their faith’s values

FamilyVoice Victoria director Peter Stevens wants to know why the Andrews government is delaying, possibly indefinitely, an upper house vote on the controversial Equal Opportunity Amendment (Religious Exceptions)Bill.

The bill has already passed the Legislative Assembly.  Debate has begun in the Legislative Council, and a vote was expected this week – but nothing happened. 

The bill has caused great community concern because it would deny parents their right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to determine the religious and moral education of their children. 

“All staff at a faith-based school – not only chaplains, but teachers, receptionists, librarians and groundspeople – have an impact on the students by the way they live their lives,” Peter Stevens said.  “Yet this bill would limit the school’s right to select the most suitable staff for all positions.  A government appointee would have the power to determine whether faith is an ‘inherent requirement’ for jobs at the school.

“By contrast, Premier Andrews has no such restriction.  He is free to choose all his personal staff from those who support Labor Party values.  How fair is that?”

A majority of Victorian Legislative Councillors are said to share Peter Stevens’ concerns.

“Please bring on the vote, Mr Premier!” he said.

A majority of Israeli children between nine and 15 have been exposed to online porn and violence

FamilyVoice research officer Ros Phillips has praised a recent move by the Israeli Knesset (parliament) to give initial approval to a bill to protect children.  It would require internet service providers to block access to pornographic, gambling and violent websites by default.  “Customers would have to personally contact their internet providers to have the block removed,” she said. 

The bill was co-sponsored by lawmakers from across the political spectrum. The only party that refused to support the bill was left-wing Meretz.

“The damaging influence of watching, and addiction to, pornographic and severe violence has been proven in many studies, with great harm to children,” said MP Moalem-Refaeli. “Today, it is easier for a child to consume harsh content on the internet than to buy an ice cream at the local kiosk.” 

The bill mentions the “negative side of the internet which includes gambling, violence, pornography, pedophilia and more, which are apt to harm the public who are exposed to them, especially children”.  It also points out that 60 percent of Israeli children between the ages of nine and fifteen have already been exposed to internet pornography, and cites reports and studies of children hurt by exposure to harmful or sexual content on the internet, causing long-term damage.

Ros Phillips is hoping the current Australian Senate inquiry on the harm to children from online pornography will recommend similar legislation when it hands down its report, due on 23 November this year.

“Something needs to be done urgently to address this problem”, she said.