|megpie71 (megpie71) wrote,|
@ 2009-03-11 10:36:00
We do NOT need this import!
Abbott attacks 'two-faced' Rudd on abortion aid
Federal Opposition frontbencher Tony Abbott has accused Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of betraying Christian voters by allowing a ban on overseas aid for abortion services to be overturned.
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith has decided that Australian aid money can now be used to fund abortion services if terminations are allowed under local laws.
Mr Rudd told Government MPs that he does not personally agree with the decision, but recognises that the majority of his colleagues do not share his view.
Okay, this is one argument Australia does NOT need to import from the US, for several reasons.
1) We're not sharing the US system of government
This is an important one. Mr Rudd, as Prime Minister, doesn't actually have the kind of power the US President has. He's the head of government, not the head of state (something the previous incumbent in the role forgot on occasion), so he doesn't have single-handed power over these sorts of decisions. Mr Smith is within his rights as Foreign Affairs Minister to make the decision (and indeed, the power to make the change rests with him - it's his portfolio). Mr Rudd, as Prime Minister, doesn't have the authority to over-rule this.
2) We currently have a Labor government in power
Unlike the Liberal party, the Labor party is much more willing to deal with a diversity of opinion amongst their members. The Liberals tend to take the head of the party as being the person who sets the tone of the party's policy (so a Liberal PM would have the authority to quash such a decision along party lines). The ALP, on the other hand, tends to decide policy lines by votes in caucus (ie all the elected party members get a say in party policy). This means the ALP encourages different factions (currently they have the right, the left, and the centre-left) rather than focussing on monolithic party unity. Yes, the ALP does tend to disintegrate into factional in-fighting on occasion (rather frequent occasion, let's be honest), but they also allow a far greater range of opinions to become visible within policy discussions.
The Australian people voted in a majority of Labor members in the House of Representatives. We currently have a Labor government. This means we're not looking to just one single voice telling us what the government will do - we're open to a majority of voices making the decision collectively. We may agree with them, we may not (and that's where Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition comes in - asking questions and raising reasonable objections) but we're going to hear all of them.
3) We don't have the same constitution
Yes, strange as it might seem to some people in Australia, we don't share a constitution with the US of A. Instead, we have our own, and it was strongly based on the British legal system, rather than the American. We adopted some ideas from the US - we call the members of our federal upper house "senators" rather than "lords", and we elect them rather than appointing them for life - but by and large, our constitutional and legal systems are based on British common law. Our constitution does mention religion - it says people have the freedom to practice the religion of their choice. It doesn't say the church and state are separate, because when our country federated, we did so as part of the British empire (later the Commonwealth) and as such, we are part of a wider legal system where the head of state (the Queen) is also the head of the Church of England.
In English law, the church is tied to the state, and senior bishops of the Church of England have seats in the House of Lords. The Church of England (the Anglican church) is the one which is the default religion of all people in the United Kingdom (which explains why the Anglican church works so hard to develop a doctrine which is extremely flexible and open). In Australian law, this isn't necessarily the case, although the majority of Australians who identify as being Christian on the census forms will tend to identify as being Anglican.
There are, of course, other reasons why this particular decision is a wise one. Reasons which include things like taking into account that a lot of our aid funding goes to nations where they don't have the same level of health care that Australians take for granted - where maternal and neonatal mortality rates are much higher. Where there's no guarantee of social security; where parents aren't paid a "baby bonus"; where contraception isn't available in every supermarket, corner store, and pharmacy; where education might consist of a few years of primary schooling for everyone, or might not be provided at all; where starvation is more of a problem than weight gain. Little things which take into account the difference between the circumstances most Australians live in, and the circumstances most foreign aid recipients live in. However, the chief reason why Kevin Rudd's decision not to interfere with Steven Smith's choices for policy directions within his portfolio is the prime one: it is quite literally not his job to do so.