The Queensland election is just around the corner and I think some perspective around some of the issues is timely.
Much has been made of the Premier’s announcement over the weekend where voluntary assisted dying became a topical issue in the last few weeks of the campaign. I agree with the Premier when she said, “this is an incredibly important issue for Queenslanders.” However, I fear that the government is trying to treat an issue that is incredibly complex as one that is a simple conscious vote.
First and foremost, the government must invest heavily in palliative care. Secondly, they should consider what impact the legalisation of voluntary assisted dying will have upon our society and our values. Something as significant as this should not be rushed, and by making a promise that if re-elected, the government will bring legislation to parliament for a vote in February, one month ahead of the scheduled date for a report from the Queensland Law Reform Commission is cause for concern. This report will contain the outcomes of a significant public consultation process that has been undertaken by the Commission which the government must take into account when developing legislation.
Many of you will know that Religious Instruction (RI) in schools has been a personal passion of mine. I have spent a considerable amount of time over the past few months lobbying the political parties to obtain a commitment from them in relation to this. Whether people believe in Christ or not, Religious Instruction will always play a key role in our school curriculum and it is pleasing to see political parties acknowledge the contribution these volunteers play within the development of our young people. We have won commitments from the major parties that RI will continue during curriculum time in state schools. Now the work of enhancing this ecumenical ministry of 3500 volunteers, reaching out to over 150,000 children will go forward in confidence.
A third issue is that of youth justice and the need to respond positively in order to produce outcomes that benefit both the community and our young people. The Youth Advocacy Centre have released an Orange Paper, which looks at a 10-point plan for investment in order to keep youth out of, or prevent them from coming back into the justice system while also preserving community safety. I encourage you to take the time and review this document, the plan is practical and has merit.
While there is much discussion about how we can be good corporate citizens of the planet, in my view, creating the environment for a solid, sustainable economy for the whole of the state is the most practical social justice move a government can do. Creating employment opportunities and support for people’s health and well-being are just some of the ways in which this can be done.
This is my last musing as Moderator of the Queensland Synod, and I would like to thank you for your support and kind words over the past six years. I have particularly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and speak to those in our rural and remote communities, and I pray for those who are still in areas plagued by drought. For me, my musing has been an opportunity to share thoughts on what is happening in society and I hope you have been suitably challenged and encouraged in your life of discipleship.
Rev David Baker
Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod