Address to Liberal Party – Stirling Division, 8 May 2006

Filed on 08 May 2006 in Speeches category. Print This Page

Why are we (the Christian Democratic Party) here? The Sunday Timesheadline said it well, Lack of Respect, after Chris Judd was booed in receiving the Ross Glendinning medal for fairest and best in the Western Derby. Why are we here? Because we want to restore the soul to our culture and ensure a safe place for our children.

What do we believe? Pretty much what you believe but we go further and are more strident when it comes to protection of religious freedom and expression, the encouragement and protection of family life and the intrinsic value of all human life from its beginning.

What do we want? A safe place for our children. We want both major parties to swing their social policies back to mainstream Australian values that are basically Christian instead of just going along with the social elitists and the vocal minority groups that are out of line with mainstream Australia.

Why should you take notice? The combined Christian vote at the last state election was 5% and is increasing while the Democrat and Green vote is decreasing. There is enough there to swing governments out of power. It will take a while for us to continue to waken the sleeping juggernaut but we can do it. If the major parties pull their policies back in line then we will always be small – but we will still be here. I personally have no wish to ever see CDP as a ruling party but to be salt and light to the Australian political community.

1963. 22nd November. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. Three visionaries died on that day, the death of two eclipsed by the dramatic death of the third. JFK was indeed a great statesman and we do well to learn from his practical wisdom.

The other two were also visionary, indeed prophetic. One was an atheist and the other a Christian. The atheist was none other than Aldous Leonard Huxley. In 1931 he described in Brave New World a laboratory in which fertilized human ova would break into separate buds, each maturing into an embryo that could be genetically manipulated for various roles and purposes.

The Christian – arguably one of the greatest writers and apologists ever – was CSLewis, hardly ever known by his two given names Clive Staples, and now back in prominence again with the film The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. His work is major. In an incredible and prophetic series of lectures in 1943 subsequently published as The Abolition of Man, he talks about ‘men without chests’ or adults who lack moral formation and moral character, who divorce their head from their hearts, who use their ‘head’ but lose their ‘chest’ or their moral values.
Lewis writes:

‘In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.’

We might illustrate this by saying that we sow violence and indiscriminate sex on media screens and computer games and then wonder why we reap violence and indiscriminate sex in our society. Or we sow disrespect in our media and in our parliaments and then wonder why we have disrespect in our communities. Lewis showed in 1943 how the loss of society’s values ultimately leads to the degradation of that society and civilisation. Just how important is this?

Well, what are the threats to this world of ours?
Allow me to broadly classify them as threats to our physical habitat, the threats of human conflict, and the threats from within our culture.
Those from within lead to self-destruction. These threats are to the fundamental basis and values of society – community, marriage and family that hold a society together instead of each person only looking after themselves – and the very definition of what it means to be human.

The Australian historian Manning Clark – like Lewis – could see the danger in the threats from within our culture as well – sometime before his death in 1991 he wrote:

What interested me was, assuming mankind had killed God, what did Australians put in His place? …have we become bored survivors on Bondi Beach, citizens of the kingdom of nothingness, who booze and surf while waiting for the barbarians.

We are losing Christian values in our society. Even the classics that we used to study in English had a God-consciousness written into them e.g. Shakespeare’s Henry V; Dickens’s Sidney Carton in Tale of Two Cities, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable. And there is a move to take these out of our curriculum. As well as questioning values in our education system, let’s alsoteach them. Values like respect and truth. Why do you think the low-budget Christian schools have been so effective? Why do you think 80-90% of students at these schools come from non-churched families?

Now this brings us to a topical battle. The homosexual lobby and the anti-Christian elites are trying once again to introduce legislation that will compel Christian Schools to employ homosexual teachers. Our refusal to do this has nothing to do with their ability as teachers but has everything to do with values that are inevitably and properly absorbed in school. This truth needs no defence.

Why am I here – having never been a political animal?
In October 2002 I presented a paper to Baptist Union assembly walking in when announced with a big placard that read SHAME and asked that, if the Senate passed the legislation to allow stem cell research on embryos then who would come with me on a march into the city carrying similar placards. To my huge relief only a few people put up their hands, and I said:

But, how and when will we know that that is what we have to do?
What will it finally be that drives us to that conclusion?

  • 80-100,000 abortions per year as a means of contraception? Too late.
  • Third trimester and ‘partial birth abortion’? Too late. (do you know what that is? A Distant Thunder)
  • Experimentation on embryos? Almost too late (addendum 2003: too late)
  • Euthanasia? Too late in other places (getting closer here).
  • Euthanasia without consent? Too late in Holland.
  • Cloning? We’re getting close to it, although not here(2006: now we’re getting really close)
  • Cloning for reproductive purposes for infertile couples? It’s only a matter of time.
  • Harvesting of organs from clones? (2003: possible in New Jersey- predicted in the movie The Island)
  • Cloning for special purposes? Once we’ve gone as far as the above, this is inevitable.
  • Termination of life according to certain criteria – states of self-awareness, personhood, quality of life, ability to be productive for society, or just age? Only a matter of time.

So, what will it finally be that drives us to walk into the city carrying our placards?
And will we still be able to?

The stem cell debate brought the real issue into focus for me and that was the definition of what it meant to be human, and when human life began and I realised I needed to waken God’s people. I then also realised in order to get a higher profile I needed to run for Senate so I went and offered to CDP and I would now be there if we had accepted the deal that Labor offered, but in conscience we could not. I have no regrets (neither has my wife!).

The task then for me was and is to proclaim and uphold the intrinsic value and dignity of every human being at every stage of life and in every state of disability and dependency, from fertilisation to life’s natural end. You will find detail on this at This is more fundamental than the introductory articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights… You will also find a Manifesto for Human Life in the 21st Century You see I wear a three cornered hat – I do ethics for CDP, for Church leaders in WA, and now for Medicine With Morality.

Now as it happens this view – the intrinsic value of every human being – gives authority for everything else we believe in fighting for – from life issues to countering the radical agendas to looking after the poor and people in distress.

So much flows from the position that all human life is of value once we establish it. To value people is to respect them, to aid their freedom, to deliver them from bondage and to care for them at times of vulnerability. So we include not just embryo destruction, abortion, cloning and euthanasia, but also how we look after the less privileged in our world. We include people caught in compulsive gambling, heroin addiction, and prostitution. We include pregnancy and motherhood, the ideal basis for which is the security of stable and nurturing marriage. Likewise we affirm that children are best protected and nurtured in a stable family with a mother and a father. We value personal freedom, but not at the expense of others. We hold that to love our neighbour as our self is the basis for a cooperative and just society.

Almost a Liberal philosophy but it goes further and includes the unborn.

Just a few weeks ago we had a report of premature babies feeling pain. Until now the clamouring voices have said that when the 24-week premature baby flinches with a needle stick that it’s just a reflex, but now in 2006 we’re acknowledging pain is being processed in the brain. How could we be so certain before that they weren’t feeling pain? The nerve pathways to the brain are being established from around 7 weeks – can we be certain that they don’t feel pain as they are executed? Just think – what if only 10% of those babies are pain conscious? That’s 10,000 per year… What if its only the 2-3% that are more than 24 weeks? That’s 2-3000 per year more certainly pain conscious when they die… But ssshh! Don’t tell anyone – its too distressing. Turn the ultrasound screens away – we mustn’t let on that there’s a real baby there (NHMRC committee 1994). Let’s tell the truth! Whatever happened to informed consent?

We have just had a great parliamentary debate with the RU486 issue. And I think that we have had a huge gain in waking the public conscience. There is much less denial that that the embryo is a real, living human being.

Sadly, control of RU486 has been lost to a scientific body set up to assess evidence and standards and not at the morality of the outcome. However, it was always going to be at risk with a change of Health Minister or change of Government.

Control of RU-486 was first vested in the Minister for Health in 1996. As WA Greens Christabel Chamarette said in the debate at that time “We deserve to have parliamentary scrutiny of decisions. We deserve to have a voice on issues and not simply leave them to boards of experts.” [Senate Hansard, 21/5/96, p 821].

The morality of what RU-486 actually does as an abortifacient will not even be considered by the TGA. Indeed it was effectively argued by RU-486 proponents that ‘evidence-based medicine’ alone should decide this issue and not government. The question of morality was pushed aside and the principle that government should determine our moral direction was set back. EBM without consideration of outcome morality is bad medicine and could be used to consider euthanasia techniques or even the transplanting of organs from clones bred for that purpose. How to do it ‘best’ and ‘legal’ is not all that matters. This has huge implications in the next few months as government considers the recommendations of the Lockhart Review Committee.

What is the Lockhart Review and what did it recommend? This was the committee set up to review Australia’s Prohibition of Human Cloning and Research Involving Human Embryos Acts of 2002 and chaired by Mr Justice Lockhart who has since died (January 2006).

The situation regarding destructive embryo research at this point is that research on so-called ‘spare’ embryos has been permitted by the 2002 legislation. In brief the committee has moved from recommending approval of ‘spare’ embryos to the explicit creation of embryos for the purpose of destructive research. Worse still it has moved to the creation of embryos by cloning techniques and the mixing of animal and human genetic materialto form chimeras. The committee has even recommended we change the definition of embryo to allow research to occur without breaking the law.

You will find a full report on this at www.medicinewithoutmorality.infowebsite including a comment on the slippery slope which the committee denied but which is very powerfully illustrated by the reasoning that the committee used to justify the extended research. Justice Lockhart died some three weeks after release of the report. Either he was very blind in not realising the slippery slope had just been proven or he was very wise in making it obvious to those who read the report in detail. You will then see the reason why I have set up Medicine With Morality and have a look at theManifesto for Human Life in the 21st Century on page. And I have already sent letters to Mr Howard, Tony Abbott from MWM and also to Alan Carpenter thanking him for his personal view on cloning.

It is clear that the Lockhart committee has given undue weight to scientists wishing to further advance their research and has replaced absolute boundaries with relative ones.

Why is this so significant? Where are we going? While recommending cloning and use of animal eggs the committee would ban the implantation of all clones and demands their destruction before 14 days. But with the promise of the artificial womb being able to keep the clone alive for many months it will only be a matter of time before someone in need of a formed liver rather than just stem cells will argue that they need a later stage therapeuticclone. As this cloned embryo would never been implanted in a human uterus and is going to be destroyed anyway then it is discriminatory to deny the right to further developing that clone.

It will be argued that the time limit for embryo destruction can be extended on the grounds that the embryo is not an aware human person – consistent with the ethics of some who argue that destruction is even acceptable up to about six weeks after delivery. Why be limited to 14 days? There is no real difference between 14-days and 14-weeks as the embryo is not really a person anyway. This would then allow for actual organ transplantation to the donor of the clone – a cellular extension of the original subject – for a disease otherwise untreatable.

It will be argued that parents who have lost a child should have the right to clone that child – particularly if they are beyond the age of reproduction or in the event of sterilisation. It will be argued that this also is therapeutic.

Cloning will also be argued on the basis of not discriminating against a right to parenthood either by a couple with one having a serious hereditary defect, or even for that matter a single person.

Once we have let go of the façade that cloning is not being performed then the way is opened for the meeting of other ‘needs’ with enhancement of various characteristics only being limited by the imagination. The potential for evil is huge.

At this point we should be starting to shudder.

Now the Lockhart committee included representatives from ethics as well as science and ethics so there will be a lot of pressure on government to simply adopt the recommendations – leave it to the expert body; leave it to objective scientific evidence; leave it to ethicists to consider these complex issues.

But it is not sufficient for expert committees to determine the future direction of our nation or its moral compass. The guardianship of ethical and moral values that honour our country should ultimately reside with government. These decisions will be made in the next few months.

From recent letter to Mr Howard from 19 leaders of Churches in WA:

Stem cell science from adult tissues is advancing rapidly and according to many well-respected scientists has equal or greater potential. If our nation is faced with a choice between science that honours all human life and that which does not value our most vulnerable, then the choice should be clear. We must not clone and we must not kill.
Medical research in Australia has a bright future without cloning. We believe that research which pays respect to all human life will in turn be honoured.
We are thankful that the Australian Government supported the United Nations Declaration on Human Cloning and we ask for all Australian legislation to be consistent with the Declaration.

Now I could go on in great detail about what it means to be human and I realise I can’t. The papers are on my websites. But let me say this: there can be no argument as to when life begins – it begins at fertilisation – and so then the argument becomes when is life of value. Prof Peter Singer believes that personhood is related to self-awareness and that you can practise infanticide up to about 4-6 weeks after birth before the baby becomes self-aware. I read from a previous paper:

Concepts of value and worth and disability and personhood and self-awareness are too arbitrary and subject to the opinions and whims of the day to base decisions regarding life and death. Nations may decide that certain states of mental and physical capacity determine that individual’s right to exist or not exist, and then it may be re-defined to include or exclude varying physical characteristics that are deemed acceptable or of worth to society. That should sound terrifyingly familiar.

Do you start to get some idea of why I am here? Of why the church is slowly waking up? Are you starting to shudder? This is the most critical moral question civilisation has ever faced – it strikes at the very core of what it means to be human.

At the same time the church is under attack although I believe we have already started to turn this around. There have been so many voices sayingyou’re religious, keep out of this (your own politicians have said this), and also seeking to stop us from telling the truth as we see it for fear of hurting other people. And BTW, we don’t believe it is other religions that are trying to silence us – it is the anti-Christian agnostics.

One more thing I think will amuse you. We are accused of being ‘right wing’ and ‘religious bigots, occupying the high moral vantage point and dispensing judgment across society’. I wore a badge for a while at the surgery that said ‘right wing religious bigot‘ and my patients really enjoyed it. But in truth we occupy the middle ground of conservative Australia wanting to hold fast to the values that have made Australia strong.

There is a wide divergence of opinion on political issues within the Christian church and – you guessed it – a lot of division. Christians vote right across the left-right spectrum – as I have found to my discomfort with respect to the Iraq war, being ‘attacked’ on many occasions after talks ‘what is your position on the Iraq war?’ being respectively damned whether I was or was not in favour or even if I have no position.

“No position! You must have a personal opinion.”
“I don’t want to say.”
“But I want to know. Do think it was just or not?”
“I think it was just.”
“Aha, I thought so. I’m not voting for you!”

We are thankful for those of a Christian worldview – whether committed Christian or not – within the Liberal Party but we also know that compromise and bargaining on policies needs to take place to present a united front. We in the CDP too may have to bargain on what we want but there are first things and there are second things. We may bargain with second things but we will never compromise or bargain on first things. We ask for you to do the same. Speak out for righteousness and we will support you.

Lachlan Dunjey. May 2006.

Share |