So there’s a homophobic sect that oppresses
women and children? What? Is Bob Brown calling for an inquiry into Islam in Australia?
Of course not! It’s only politically correct to beat up Christian sects.
Let’s face it. The accusations levelled
against the Exclusive Brethren yesterday (items 3 and 4) could be thrown up at all religions.
Yet the Greens’ attempt to set up an inquiry into the denomination earlier this
week remains inexcusable.
Labor’s Senate leader, Chris Evans, put
This motion from
Senator Bob Brown to inquire into the Exclusive Brethren is not supported by
the Labor Party. It has very wide-ranging terms of reference which seek to
inquire into all manner of things concerning a private organisation – in this
case, a religious organisation. Nevertheless, it is an independent, private
organisation – one not controlled by government and not controlled by the parliament.
We do not think that is an appropriate role for the Senate to undertake.
We are aware of
the publicity surrounding the activities of the Exclusive Brethren. We are
aware of some fairly serious allegations about some of that activity and that
that has attracted a great deal of media attention. We in this parliament, and
certainly those of us in the Labor Party, do not believe we are in a position
to make a judgement on those allegations. They are clearly issues that ought to
be pursued in appropriate forums if people have concerns.
The key point
for us in this debate is not to make a judgement about the Exclusive Brethren
because that is a question for others to judge if complaints are made. The key
point for us relates to the role of the Senate and the inquiry functions of
this chamber. Traditionally, we have seen our role as investigating and
inquiring into matters of public policy and public administration – issues that
the parliament of Australia ought to be treating seriously and issues that relate to how the
government expends its moneys and runs its programs et cetera. That has
generally been our practice. By providing that function, I think, the Senate
has served the parliament and Australian democracy well…
Other forums exist. What did the self-styled
defenders of the Senate do here? Their colleagues from Labor, from the
Democrats, from Family First and the Coalition found they were attempting to
abuse the Senate.