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Q And A -

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TONY JONES: Good evening and welcome to Q&A. I'm Tony Jones and answering your questions tonight:
philosopher and author Raimond Gaita; the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, Jim Wallace;
former NSW Premier, Kristina Keneally; atheist, rationalist and video blogger, Cristina Rad; and
conservative commentator and historian, Gerard Henderson. Please welcome our panel.

Okay. Q&A is live from 9:35 Eastern time and its simulcast on News 24, News Radio and the Australia
Network. Go to our website to send in questions and join the Twitter conversation using the hash
tag that just appeared on your screen. Well, our first question comes from Gordon Hinds.

WHY BELIEVE?00:01:09

GORDON HINDS: Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share a common thread of lineage. They just
disagree on the details, such as who really is a true prophet, how many commandments they have.
Given their origins are from illiterate goat and sheep herders some slaves and a tradesman, all of
whom suffered no education, bad diets, hallucinations, and chronic dehydration, why on earth would
anyone in their right mind place any importance on these bizarre thoughts?

TONY JONES: Kristina Keneally, let's start with you?

KRISTINA KENEALLY: I thought this was about politics.

TONY JONES: It sounds an awful like the NSW Labor Party, I do admit.


KRISTINA KENEALLY: Gerard, do you want to take that?

GERARD HENDERSON: It doesn't sound like the NSW Labor Party to me, but there you go. Do you want me



KRISTINA KENEALLY: Serious, I'm happy...

TONY JONES: There are very few of them who suffer from chronic dehydration for example. Kristina,
let's go with the actual question.

GERARD HENDERSON: Or herd goats, yes.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: No, more seriously, thank you for your question, I think. You make a valid point
that all of those traditions spring from similar sources. Recently at mass this weekend, the parish
priest was preaching and making the point that he doesn't believe that God plays favourites. I
don't believe that either. And I do think there's truth in all of those various religious
traditions that you've outlined. Now, whether you should believe it or not, whether or not you
accept that or not, whether or not you see validity in the scriptures and the text that come from
those religion traditions, that's for you to judge. Now, the people on this panel tonight all have
very different views. I actually think your question is a bit cheeky.

TONY JONES: I think it might have been meant to be. Let me ask you this: do you ever question the
miracles or the sort of dream like prophecies that you find in the Bible?

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Oh, look, you know, I studied theology at graduate school. One of my favourites
is Hildegard of Bingen and, you know, it's hard to believe that Hildegard actually experienced all
the things that she wrote about or, in fact, that she experienced them and understood them in the
way she has presented them. You know, I don't necessarily think that you have to believe everything
that's been written in the cannon of Christian tradition and about people's mystical experiences is
100% true to be able to find meaning in them.

JIM WALLACE: But I think, implicit, Tony, if I could say - implicit in the question there is that
perhaps it's only those who are a little bit, you know, loose in the mind who would believe this,
you know. But the reality is we've got a lot of very bright people who believe this. We've got
professors of mathematics at Oxford. You know, we've got previous Deputy Prime Ministers of
Australia. You know, we have a huge number of people, including a lot of scientists, who believe
this and 19% of the country go to church once a month. So I think, you know, there's a lot of
people believe this and to them it is real and I can tell you, as a person who believes it, that if
you have taken Christ into your life, it is real, you know.

TONY JONES: Rai Gaita.

RAIMOND GAITA: Well, this is the first time I've heard it said that someone shouldn't be believed
because they're dehydrated. I've heard more or less the opposite a few times but. I am not
religious but I have, for a lot of my life, taken seriously that some of the things I believe most
deeply and are most important to me have their origins in religious thoughts and I have written
extensively in my own work about what I have sometimes called the inalienable preciousness of all
human beings and I don't mean by that to exclude other kinds of beings but let's just keep in human
beings. And there have been secular versions of that and one of the greatest of them has come from
the philosopher Immanuel Kant. My own feeling is that the secular versions have failed. That
doesn't make me religious but it does makes me take seriously the fact these sorts of thoughts grew
up in a tradition where people were inspired by the examples of Saints who responded to human
beings as people had never before, to the most radical evil doers and still insisting that evil
though may be and foul though their characters may be even to match their deeds, they were owed -
in fact, this is how Kant put it - unconditional respect. And in my own life, it has mattered
enormously to me an experience I had as a student working in a psychiatric hospital, where a nun -
and, again, it doesn't matter to me that she was a nun - responded to people who were radically
afflicted, who had been in that hospital for over 30 years, who had nothing to live for as far as
people like I was concerned - it was the time of the beautiful people in the 60s - responded to
them without a trace of condescension and that I found wondrous. And, so, as I say it hasn't made
me religious but made me take seriously the religious tradition.

TONY JONES: Let's hear from Cristina, an atheist. Well, you probably have sympathy with some of the
views in the question.

CRISTINA RAD: Oh, I have to speak now?

TONY JONES: Yes, you do.

CRISTINA RAD: Well, I think it's because along with the evolution of our brain and consciousness,
we also developed, well, imagination and because we are curious beings and we are explorers, we
tried to reason the world out and tried to find answers and we didn't have them. We didn't have
science. So we saw lightning. We didn't see that atmospheric discharge of electricity. We had to
put something behind it and so we put a God behind it and we also needed some excuses to kill some
people and put the women in their places and I think that was it.

TONY JONES: Gerard Henderson?

GERARD HENDERSON: Well, going back to the question, I think the question it just an example of what
I call sneering secularism. If you are going to ask that kind of question, you've got to confront
someone like Barack Obama or Cherie Blair, for example, contemporary Christians, and tell them
they're flaming idiots. Well, I don't think they are. You don't have to be a practising Christian
or a practising Jew or a practising Muslim to understand that these three religious traditions have
a great intellectual power, great historical antecedents and deserve to be respected and it's very
each to tell everyone they're a blooming idiot but I don't think it's very clever and I certainly
don't think it has any depth.

TONY JONES: Very briefly, Gerard, the question at the end referred to bizarre thoughts and I
suppose I just want to ask you as a modern Christian rationalist whether you believe in miracles?

GERARD HENDERSON: Well, who's a modern Christian rationalist?

TONY JONES: Well, I'm assuming you are.

GERARD HENDERSON: I've only been on this show once and I said I was an agnostic, which is what I
am, but, I mean, if you're talking about bizarre views, have a look at the Green movement. Once
upon a time, when people said, "The end of the world is nigh," they were figures of fun. They were
all Christians walking around in odd clothing. Now, people who walk around in odd clothing and say
"The end of the world is nigh," vote Green and often work at the ABC or somewhere else. It seems to
me that anyone who thinks the world is going to end within the next six months or six years or 60
years or 600 years, is pretty bizarre to me and they're not religious at all.

TONY JONES: Okay, let's go to the next question. It's from Zachary Nicholson.


ZACHARY NICHOLSON: A university study concludes that religious people are more generous, more
altruistic and more involved in civic life than their secular counterparts. They are more likely to
give blood, money to a homeless person, financial aid to their family or friends, a seat to a
stranger and to spend time with someone who is a bit down. If religion contributes so positively to
society, why then are we so quick to distance it from politics and don't want it influencing our
policies and society in general?

TONY JONES: Let's hear from Jim Wallace first on that.

JIM WALLACE: Well, of course, I can only agree with your statement. I think the contribution of
Christianity and of Christian people, you've quoted there, I think, or referred to a study that's
just been done in the last couple of weeks, but it's also reinforced - that idea is also reinforced
by people, even very prominent atheists such as Matthew Paris, who, in visiting Africa and looking
at the work of Christian missions down there, said that it wasn't just what the missions did in the
terms of bringing aid, but it was the fact they brought a spiritual dimension which helped the
people there break out of a group think that otherwise had seized and controlled and limited Africa
and its ability to go on and prosper. So I think that, you know, we don't only have to look at the
past to say that we have a great contribution of faith. It doesn't mean that atheist people can't
be good people but I think there is very real evidence that faith works, that faith influences
people positively and it has influenced society positively on the whole.

TONY JONES: Jim, the thrust of the argument appeared to be that religious people deserve a bigger
role in politics and in making policy because essentially they are nicer.

JIM WALLACE: Yeah, no I don't believe they deserve a better role. I think what's been said was that
they shouldn't be excluded and I'd agree with that absolutely. I think there is a view around the
place that Christians shouldn't be able to influence politics; that this separation of church and
State is supposed to keep the church out. It's not. It's supposed to keep the State from
interfering with the church. And so I think that just as all constituencies in a participative
democracy should be participating that the church should be too and I think on the whole that that
participation is for good.

TONY JONES: Cristina Rad, atheists were referred to there as occasionally being good people. What
do you think about that?

CRISTINA RAD: Well, I tend to be sceptical about the study. I would like to know what was the
sample size or it, who conducted it, who came up with the conclusions because I have noticed a lot
of this kind of thing in the press where, you know, studies show and that's about it. That's about
all the information they give and a lot of times the studies are, well, dubious to say the least. I
saw things like, you know, studies show that black people have a lower IQ and I have been arguing
with these people who call themselves racial realists and they conduct the studies in very dubious
manners and they publish the results and, well, this is the truth. I don't think so.

JIM WALLACE: Tony, can I just say that, Cristina, that's not the case on this one. This has been
done by a man whose been described as, I think, one of the greatest academics in the world, Putman,
I think his name is, and I think it's Harvard University. So it's quite a comprehensive study, you
know, and one that we can rely on.

CRISTINA RAD: And that was done in the United States and what was the sample size of it?

JIM WALLACE: Well, he's an atheist, I might say, this fellow.

CRISTINA RAD: Good for him.

GERARD HENDERSON: Can I make a comment about Cristina's atheism because I very much respect it
because Cristina's atheism, she's opposed - I mean it's very easy to be opposed to Christianity.
That's easy. It's easy to be opposed to Judaism. It's not easy to be opposed to Islam and your
criticism of atheism is - your criticism of religion is completely consistent and in this country
there are few people like you. They won't get stuck into Islam, for some reason, because they feel
it's a minority or maybe because they feel scared or whatever. But you do it and I think your
position is intellectually very consistent and there is nothing wrong with the tradition that you
espouse. People might disagree with it but the atheist tradition it is a reasonable tradition.

TONY JONES: Do you want to explain that? I mean have you been taken out of context? Is Gerard right
about what he's saying?

CRISTINA RAD: Well, I want to say that I'm not against religion because I just hate religion. In
general, when I criticise something it is the consequences religion has in society. You know things
like homophobia and stuff like that, so that is my problem because many people justify these
bigoted views basically with religion.

TONY JONES: Let's go to the other Kristina.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Look, I have to agree with a lot of what Jim has said here. This idea that the
church that there is no official religion in Australia, that there's a separation of church and
State often gets translated into that means you can't bring a religious view in the public square.
I think one of the most interesting contributions on this point in recent years is Tony Blair, who
makes the very strong argument that religion in many ways would be more important in how the world
develops over the next generation because people are increasingly bringing religion into the public
square. And if you look at particularly the United States, we see that. If you look at what's
happening in this country, you see that and I don't think it's something we should fear. People
bring their judgments, they bring their life experiences, they bring the books they've read, their
family experiences and their religion to the judgments that they make. It has a proper role in - it
doesn't deserve a privileged role but it deserves a role.

CRISTINA RAD: What about Scientology, should that be brought into that?

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Well, look, a contest of ideas. People can make a judgment whether or not they
want to be Scientologists. If Scientologists want to make arguments for tax breaks, let them go for
it. You know...

TONY JONES: Well, they've already made the argument and they've actually won that argument.


TONY JONES: And they're getting tax breaks, despite the fact that they believe in a creature from
outer space.

CRISTINA RAD: But you're basically saying that this is what's going on, so that means that this is
how things are supposed to be and I don't see a reason why personal beliefs should be brought into
things like politics?

KRISTINA KENEALLY: How is politics conducted in any other way except by people bringing their
personal beliefs into it? You bring your beliefs into it.

TONY JONES: Let's hear from Rai Gaita. The question actually brings up what you were talking about
earlier when you talked about that nun. It raises the issue of, I guess, who would take up the
slack in charities, for example, in these areas if there was no religion?

RAIMOND GAITA: Yeah, well, that's a fair question but it is no reason for believing in God. I mean,
one might end up being bereft of certain things. In fact, it is not that I doubt this particular

TONY JONES: But it might be an argument in favour of belief.

RAIMOND GAITA: No. No, it's not. Look, you can't believe in a metaphysical entity like a God
because, as a matter of fact, in a particular society, I mean, who knows how we judge this across
the board, people are doing good works, and so on, more than people who don't believe in a God.
That's not a reason to believe in God. I think that's important. But the more important question is
what role religion ought to have in politics and I think one role it ought not to have is in the
formulation of laws, if the formulation of those laws are based on faith or scripture because I
think people can't live under laws to which they can't consent and I couldn't consent to live under
a law that was based on faith or scripture. But when people object to, let's say, Catholics - it's
usually against Catholics but it can be against Jews and Christians and others - having an
influence, let's say, on an abortion debate or whatever it is - mostly those Catholics and other
Christians and other religious people would claim - that it might be right or might be wrong - that
the views they have are, as it were, independently accessible to reason, that they're not based -
let's say that there is a particular view on abortion or the nature of sexuality. I am sure most
Christians would say that the views they press in public are available to reason independently of
faith and scripture. Then there's going to be an argument about whether that's true or not but that
would be the view and to the extent that it is true. And I think mostly, actually, when I hear
religious people arguing - people I know to be religious arguing a particular moral case in
politics and I know that, as a matter of fact, it's also the church that believes it, I don't
necessarily think that it's only because of the church that they're arguing that. I assess the
arguments as they come.

TONY JONES: Let's hear from Jim Wallace on this. To some degree, your organisation is precisely set
up to influence politics.

JIM WALLACE: No, exactly right but exactly Ray said, I mean, our objective is not to bring into
politics a disproportion or privileged position. We have views which are formed on a faith but
everybody has views formed on something. You know, everybody's world view is formed on some belief
system. You might not call it a religious belief system and it may not be a religious belief system
but it's a belief system and you form views and opinions and values which you legitimately bring
into that public debate. Now, we only seek to do exactly that, because we believe that a Christian
view is a positive thing for society, that the values that are formed by that are positive for
society, then we feel both a responsibility and a right to bring those views in.

TONY JONES: All right. We're going to move on but we have a few people who have got their hands up
and make it a comment, if you can, because we've got quite a few issues we need to go through.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Quick question for Jim Wallace, who I know very little about but was introduced as
being from the Australian Christian Lobby which you were talking about. My question and as Tony may
make it a comment, it relates to why I guess a God who is omnipotent, in fact omniscient, requires
the use of a lobbyist to represent his views in Canberra or Sussex, who can create natural
disasters at his whim?

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Did you register God on the Liberal member's register?

JIM WALLACE: No, I failed.

TONY JONES: Look, I will take that as a comment because we're going to come back. There's a lot
more to talk about. We got quite a few questions. It's a very good comment. You're watching Q&A,
where you ask the questions. Our next question comes from Shereen D'Souza.


SHEREEN D'SOUZA: In May, the UN human rights Commissioner said policies of locking up asylum
seekers had cast a shadow over Australia's human rights record and recently the High Court rejected
the Government's Malaysia solution. What are the panel's views on the crisis of refugees and asylum
seekers looking for a decent life in Australia?

TONY JONES: Okay, let's start with Kristina Keneally.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Well, I think we as a Labor Party have ceded the ground on asylum seekers and
this debate to the conservatives for too long. We have allowed to be debate on the "We'll determine
who comes to this country and in the manner in which they come and we'll stop the boats." We have
bought into that. I am very distressed that we're likely to end up with a solution of onshore
processing, which I support, but that we have gotten there by the route by which we have gotten
there. I find it extraordinary that we have gone through the High Court challenge and now this
legislation that most likely won't get through the Parliament, yet we are talking about 6,000
desperate people who have a legal right to apply for asylum in this country. Some 84% of them are
found to be genuine refugees. I believe Australia is big enough culturally, economically, socially,
geographically, to be able to officially process these applications and to welcome these people
into our country. Now, you know, someone asked a question earlier about Christianity in the public
square. You know, I believe that as a Christian, I believe it as someone who migrated to this
country and I believe it as a politician and an Australian.

TONY JONES: So let me ask you this, because you've talked publicly about the primacy of conscience
and I think you just referred to it there in a sense.


TONY JONES: My question to you is: Is the Labor Party, in your view, losing its conscience and
losing its way on this issue?

KRISTINA KENEALLY: As I said, I think over the last decade we have ceded way too much ground in the
public debate on this. We haven't allowed ourselves to put forward the arguments on a compassionate
ground or on a decency ground or on a human rights ground as to what we are as a nation and what we
want to be. That's my first problem. My other problem with it, if we are going to talk about as a
Labor Party interested in the rights of working people, if we are going to talk about illegal
immigrants or illegal arrivals in this country, let's talk about the 50,000 visa over stayers that
any day are in Australia.

TONY JONES: Okay, but I've got to ask you this, because you know the debate is raging at the
moment. Julia Gillard was just in trying to convince Tony Abbott to change the Migration Act to
strip out the human rights protections within the Act. Are you disturbed by that in particular?

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Well, I think the Prime Minister has to try and go to the Parliament and I
support her in this for two reasons. One, we are in this absurd situation almost where the High
Court has overturned the expressed will of the Parliament. I mean, whether you agree or not with
offshore processing, both parties are currently arguing for a form of offshore processing and,
indeed, we have had offshore processing as part of our system for years. We now have a situation
where the High Court has made that illegal and both the government and the alternate government
can't get their policy through. So, yes, I think they do need to deal with it legislatively but,
longer term I think we need to drag the ground back to where we want to have the debate.

TONY JONES: This question of taking out the human rights protections from the Act, which a lot of
the lest - I know you are not from the left of the Labor Party - but a lot of the left of the Labor
Party are very disturbed by this. Are you disturbed by it equally?

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Well, I have concerns about it. I think we need to have a broader discussion.
Personally I think we're going to end up in a situation the only card left to play is onshore
processing and saying we can't do anything else because Tony Abbott won't let us. What disturbs me
is how we got to that point. I think it would be really good if we got to that outcome, it disturbs
me, though, the way we got there.

TONY JONES: Jim Wallace, let's hear from you on this.

JIM WALLACE: Yeah, this is an extremely fraught issue and I think that one thing we tend to lose
track of in the refugee debate is that our refugee intake is meant to be addressed to those who are
in the most need. You know, that might be need for protection, in fear of their lives, or it might
be in need through famine or whatever. I get concerned, I must say, when people say to me that the
people we're accepting at the moment through the boat trade, or coming in by boat, that they settle
in so well because they're people who are obviously entrepreneurial and so therefore they come in
here and they settle well and we don't have a great burden on - they don't create a great burden
for us. But our refugee intake is about addressing need, you know, and I would love to see it going
out and addressing the need in refugee camps, bringing people who are really in danger, you know,
in fear of their lives. I know I have represented the case for a number of people currently in
camps in India who need to be, under threat of their lives even in India from people chasing them
from Afghanistan. Now, I would like to see our refugee the intake actually addressing the needs of
those people. Now, unfortunately, I think that does mean that you might need, and probably do need,
to actually stop or break, as the Prime Minister says, the business model of the criminals in
Indonesia so that we can address the need, real need.

TONY JONES: All right, we've got quite a few questions to get through. We'll keep the answers a bit
short. Rai?

RAIMOND GAITA: Well, as I understand it, the High Court had to make a decision on law and that
seems to get - I mean and insisted that that was the case, that it wasn't a decision on policy. Of
course, it has policy consequences but that's another matter and it was a decision on law based on
certain kinds of treaty obligations, which it seems to me are very important to honour. Because if,
as it were, the world is genuinely to be a community of nations, it will be so only to the extent
that it's serious about international law and nations regard themselves as answerable to it. Can I
just make a - by way of an anecdote, support what Kristina was saying about the Labor Party having
collapsed on this. I remember at the time when Beazley decided, in fact, to more or less capitulate
to Howard on this matter. I was in the country writing a book and I had discussions in the pub and
people would say things like, "Well, you know, you can't have these people jumping queues and we've
got to protect our borders", et cetera, et cetera, and then I would say, okay, but "Do we have to
keep children behind razor wire for five years?" And what was really interesting is that they say,
"Oh, yeah. But" and then I say, "No. No. Let's stick to this point".

TONY JONES: Yes, Rai, but that's what you said...

RAIMOND GAITA: No. No. Hang on let me finish. I just want to finish the story, okay? And then
eventually, after many buts and many shufflings, they would say, "No, we don't have to be so
cruel," and so on and I felt at that stage very strongly that, in fact, Beazley hadn't trusted the
Australian people.

TONY JONES: Gerard Henderson.

GERARD HENDERSON: Well, I would say that Ray's conversation took place ten years too late. I mean
Kristina talks about the Labor tradition. Mandatory detention for unauthorised arrivals by boat or
plane was introduced by Paul Keating, which is about 10 years before the conversation Ray had in
the hotel up in central Victoria somewhere. I am very sympathetic to asylum seekers, my wife has
done a lot of work in this area. I have worked in Government, I have worked in Opposition, I have
worked in the public service and I know how difficult this problem is for both the Howard
Government, the Rudd Government and now the Gillard Government, so I'm sympathetic to people like
Chris Bowen. There is a real problem. When you talk about asylum seekers coming by boat, bear in
mind that we know at least 400 have drowned and if they keep coming by boat, they'll keep drowning,
a percentage of them, probably a high percentage of them. Far too high, in any event. So it's not
an easy issue and the High Court's intervention was surprising to many people and I'm not sure that
the High Court has ruled out Nauru but as I read the High Court, I think five judges might go with
Nauru but we don't know. But all I'm saying is it's very easy to come up with simple solutions.
It's not easy to implement them.

TONY JONES: So very briefly Gerard...

RAIMOND GAITA: Well, can I just say...

TONY JONES: ...and a very short answer on this if you wouldn't mind but just to get your
impressions on what's happened today, Tony Abbott twice rejected amendments to change the Migration
Act to make it possible for the Minister to have that judgment as to who to send where. Did he do
the right thing or is it political?

GERARD HENDERSON: Well, I think Tony Abbott believes in Nauru as a solution among some other
factors. That happens to be his belief. He might be right or wrong, that's what he believes in.
There is opposition within both the left of the Labor Party and a large part of the Coalition to
Malaysia for good or bad reasons. I mean I am not all that hostile to the Government's policy. I
think it's terribly difficult but I think Tony Abbott has done what he believes he ought to do and
he is in the Opposition.

TONY JONES: Okay. It's time to move along. You're watching Q&A. The next question comes from John

JOHN MOXON: I was actually hoping there would have been some debate by now about euthanasia. My
question goes to the issue that there is more to the debate about euthanasia than I want to decide
how and when I die versus God alone who should decide that. So as a person whose level of
disability is often used as a supposedly legitimate and understandable reason to allow someone to
be euthanised, I just wonder when we will see a truly comprehensive debate about euthanasia, one
that includes a genuine opportunity for people who live productively with serious disability to
speak against euthanasia.

TONY JONES: Cristina Rad, can I start with you? The issue of euthanasia, it's often conflated with
religion. Do you have a position on it.

CRISTINA RAD: Yeah, this is what I meant when I talked about bringing religion into politics and in
general when you make decisions about the society you live in. I see absolutely no justification
for this. I think it is inhumane to let people suffer when they genuinely wish to die. There was a
case in Romania actually two years ago. There was a young man from my city. I think it was Hepatic
cirrhosis he had, if I'm not mistaken, and he actually sent to a letter to the President and asked
to be euthanised. Basically begged for it. All his organs were destroyed. He was living in constant
agony. He could not commit suicide because he was under constant watch and, of course, he was
refuse and he died four months later in horrible pain. I see, like I said, absolutely no
justification for this other than religion

TONY JONES: Let's just go back quickly to our questioner, John. I mean you talked about you're
wanting a truly comprehensive euthanasia debate in your original question that I saw. I mean we've
had terminally ill people on this program saying they want the right to die, do you sympathise with


JOHN MOXON: Yes, I do. Of course, I do. I mean, these are people who are in obvious pain, be it
through physical pain or mental pain. Physical pain generally, certainly the palliative care
doctors tell us "We can manage that" and, yes, that management of pain may, in fact, reduce the
life span of the person from months maybe to weeks or whatever. I mean, I don't have a problem with
that because we're relieving, if you like, the suffering. What I've got a problem with is
legislation like is currently before the South Australian Parliament, which will enable a doctor to
kill somebody on the judgment of the doctor alone that the person's life is not worth living and I
ask myself how would I feel if I end up in South Australia, had a stroke and some doctor said "Oh,
well, he's already a quadriplegic, let's just kill him because his life wouldn't be worth living."

TONY JONES: Let's hear from Kristina first on this.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: It's an incredibly hard issue to have a debate about because it does bring in
questions of when life, you know, ends, what is quality of life. It brings in people's religious
and moral views. I have real concerns about euthanasia, not based on religious views but based on
my experiences as a legislator. And as the example you've given, it is an incredibly difficult to
codify. It is an incredibly difficult thing for government to put rules around and you are dealing
with people who could be in extreme pain. You are dealing with people who may have different levels
of capacity. They may have ceded their decision making to others. There may be a whole range of
other motivations going on in the decision. And as a piece of public policy, it is really difficult
and I've seen many legislators and people who have come to the debate, perhaps sympathetic to the
view that we should legalise euthanasia but looking at all the difficulties around it. I haven't
yet particularly seen a Government that's cracked it as to how you would actually legislate or
codify for it.

TONY JONES: I'll bring in the rest of our panel. Yes, I do want to - John, can I just ask you just
a quick question and feel free to comment as you were going to anyway, I think, beyond that. Do you
believe people should have the right to say for themselves whether they should be euthanised,
whether it's their time and choose for themselves?

JOHN MOXON: Do I think a 15 year old lad who's depressed should be allowed to be euthanised because
he is depressed and feels he needs to commit suicide or someone 25 or 35 with no obvious disability
other than their depression? My answer is no. What we need to do with people in those situations is
find ways to support them We don't want to go down the track as, in fact, has happened, I believe,
in America, where a 25 year old woman who was a ballerina got arthritis in her toes and went to a
doctor and asked to be euthanised, killed, and she was. The doctor said "Well, I didn't really want
to do it but she was asking me to." Now, you know, to me that's - not because it's America,
Kristina, sorry.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: I'm not American.

JOHN MOXON: But to me that is a symptom of what I call a sick society. There is something wrong
with a society that can't see that that woman is in pain. Yes, she wants to be a ballerina. No, she
can't be but surely there is a way to I mean, I wanted to be all sorts of things and I can't be
because I broke my neck. But, you know, you just have to learn that, well, there are some things
you can't do, the same as everybody in the audience here has got things they can't do that they'd
like to.


JOHN MOXON And, tough, that's life.

TONY JONES: All right. Cristina wanted to come back in here.

CRISTINA RAD: Well, the debate was not even about trivial issues such as arthritis in your foot.
Maybe it wasn't trivial for her because it was her career but we are talking - at least we can talk
about things like terminal illnesses and there is a solution if doctors may make that decision for
people who are, let's say, incapacitated. There are solutions to that. We can come up with
something, for instance like a donor - we have a donor card and we can decide if we want to donate
our organs. We can home something like that, a contract where we stipulate in what circumstances we
would like to be euthanised. For instance, if I am paralysed I would want to be euthanised. I would
not want to live my life paralysed and that should be my decision to make.

JOHN MOXON: Can I respond to that?

TONY JONES: Yes, you can respond to that.

JOHN MOXON: That's exactly what I said four years before I broke my neck. They are my precise words
"If I have an accident and my neck is broken and I will be dependent on other people, et cetera, et
cetera, I would rather not survive that accident because no one could live like that". They are the
exact words that I spoke four years before it happened to me. When it happened, that wasn't my view
at all.

CRISTINA RAD: Yes, but that's your personal stance.

TONY JONES: Okay. All right.

JOHN MOXON: And I'm suggesting it would be yours too, Cristina.

TONY JONES: Let's hear from the rest of the panel and I'll start at that end with a philosophical
point of view.

RAIMOND GAITA: Well, look, it is difficult. I mean there are two issues. One is the moral issue and
the other is the legal issue. I mean, I know that there are certain circumstances in which I would
rather die and there are circumstances, I think, in which I then would kill myself if I could and
part of the euthanasia debate is about the fact that sometimes I can't and what then. And I think
at this point it gets really difficult because I know when this debate started - I can't remember
15 or 20 years ago here, people at least claimed that it was a dilemma what to do. But if it was
really a dilemma, then it is very hard to ask somebody to actually help you to die or to kill you,
because if you really think it's a dilemma, then you don't know how they will feel in five years'
time. Because, by definition, a dilemma is something you could go this way or that way on. And so I
would be enormously loath to ask anybody, I mean even someone I really love like my wife, to do it
even though I would desperately want to die. And I'm certainly reluctant - it makes me very uneasy
that we so readily think that doctors should do it. Now, I think we think that too easily. I am
resistant to its legalisation because of slippery slopes of sort. And it's really important to
remember about slippery slopes that they don't occur in cultural vacuums. They occur in certain
kinds of society with certain beliefs about life and so on and to go to your starting point here,
we now live in a society where I do find it hair raising that people believe - sorry, what I find
hair raising is the judgments that people make about lives that are not worth living, which was
your point and that is the society in which we might worry about slippery slopes.

TONY JONES: I think we've covered quite a range of views on this topic and although I'm sure the
other panellists would like to get in , I'm going to move on. You are watching Q&A. Remember, you
can send your web or video questions to our website. The address is on the screen to find out how
to do that. Our next question is a video. It comes from Josh Thomas in Melbourne.


JOSH THOMAS: Hello Tony. I would like to talk to Jim Wallace about gays. Why is it they listen to
the part of the Bible that says it is abomination for a man to lie with another man but you ignore
the part of the Bible that says it's an abomination to mix crops in the same field? Why are you so
passionately anti-homosexuality but you are fairly quiet on the issue of biodynamic farming? Also,
it's widely understood that gays have no choice about being gay. I can tell you from personal
experience it's impossible for me to feel sexual desire or romantic attraction to a girl. We know
young homosexuals have a hard time coming to terms with being homosexual and studies have shown
that they're far more likely to experience depression, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse,
homelessness - that's right, homelessness - and they're ultimately far more likely to attempt and
occasionally achieve suicide. I am interested to find out if Jim is concerned about the role the
Australian Christian Lobby is playing in empowering homophobia, which could be contributing to the
mental illnesses of young gay people.

TONY JONES: It's like having another panellist.

JIM WALLACE: There's about three issues there and, let me say, first of all, that, you know, when
people refer to what's said in the Old Testament, you've got to remember that we are Christians and
that we look at the old testament through the prism of Christ, okay, because Christ has meant to
complete the old testament. So we don't look at these issues of stoning people for sin. That's not
the way Christians look at the world and I am not aware of any that do.

TONY JONES: What's the view of Christ on homosexuality then?

JIM WALLACE: Yeah, well, Christ was silent on it but there is certainly - Christ was silent on it.

TONY JONES: That's pretty significant, isn't it?

JIM WALLACE: No. No. It's not. No. No. We've got 64 books in the Bible and we've certainly got a
whole gospel and we had long period of consultation to decide what would go into the Bible and
Christians believe...

TONY JONES: Well, I don't think we did, per se.

JIM WALLACE: No. No, certainly. But those who were closer to the theological issues at the time did
and the reality is that we have a gospel and, certainly, in the gospels homosexuality is seen as a
sin. Now, let me say, though, that all people are loved by God. Nobody is less of a man or worse
for any particular sin than anyone else. I'm no better than anyone else and, in fact, I'm as bad as
everyone else before God. So it is not the intention of the homosexual lobby to try and create
homophobia. I hate that word because we don't. Our agendas, when we go out...

TONY JONES: I think you just referred to...

KRISTINA KENEALLY: You just referred to yourself as a homosexual lobby.

TONY JONES: I think accidentally referred to yourself as the homosexual lobby.

JIM WALLACE: I don't want to encourage people. I don't want to encourage people.

TONY JONES: A chance - a chance to correct yourself.

JIM WALLACE: I don't want to encourage people I'm going to be out supporting gay marriage. But my
objection to large parts of the gay agenda is that I think this agenda has gone too far. When we
now have this agenda driven to the point, which I believe is a selfish point, where we have a
single man able to acquire a child, a baby, through surrogacy, then I am saying this has gone too
far. When we decide that a child in New South Wales here should have its father's - biological
father's name erased from a birth certificate to satisfy the demand of two lesbians who don't even
live with each other anymore, then this has gone too far. We are creating biological myth and ...

TONY JONES: Jim, I'm going to interrupt you there because we've got a few hands up in the audience
and we do need to hear from the other panellists. We'll go to this gentleman here.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Jim, you have hit the nail on the head, mate, when you said the theological issues
of the time. It's thousands of years ago, mate. Move on.

TONY JONES: Okay, and...


TONY JONES: Also hang on a sec, Jim, there's another questioner

JIM WALLACE: Can I just say, Tony...

TONY JONES: There's another questioner right up the back - yes, you can, but I'm taking that one as
a comment.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can you tell me what passages actually refers to exactly homosexuality because I
don't think that actually says that in the Bible.

JIM WALLACE: Well, Romans 13 certainly talks about the fact that people gave up natural
relationships to then take up relationships with people of the same sex. So, you know...

TONY JONES: Jim, I'm going to interrupt you here, Jim, because just to jump in for Josh Thomas, who
is not here, but just to pick up the point that he made there that he's got no choice in his

JIM WALLACE: Yeah. Yeah.

TONY JONES: It's impossible for him to feel sexual desire or romantic attraction to a girl, he
says. Do you accept that?

JIM WALLACE: Yes, I do. Look, I accept it in the sense that I have a number of friends who are same
sex attracted. I understand the strength of that attraction and their dilemma. I understand that.
But that doesn't mean that we create the sort of biological myths that I mentioned before. It
doesn't mean we erase a biological father off a birth certificate of a 10 year old child. It
doesn't mean we allow a single man to have a child.

TONY JONES: Okay. All right. That's the ground we covered before.


TONY JONES: Kristina Keneally.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: I'm going to take a slightly different view of what the gospel says.

JIM WALLACE: That's good.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Yes, I agree with you, Jesus' preaching is about replacing, you know, the old
law with the new. His new commandment was to love one another as I have loved you, that there is no
greater gift than to lay down your life for another person. Now, when you have two people of the
same sex in a mutually giving, respecting relationship, how is that not characterised in the way
that Jesus taught us to love one another? And when you have two people in a same sex relationship
who choose to foster a child or choose to adopt a child and the giving of themselves to that child,
how is that not living out what Jesus taught us to do, which is to love one another as he has loved
us and to lay down our lives for one another? Now, this whole argument about homosexual
orientation, homosexual activity, frankly drives me spare. I mean the Catholic Church's teaching on
this is quite confused, in my view. It says it's okay to be homosexual orientation as long as you
don't act on it. I honestly cannot get my mind around it.

JIM WALLACE: But, Kristina, can I take your very point and that is Christ also stood a child up,
you know, in front of everybody and said, "These are the most precious in my kingdom" or words to
that effect.

TONY JONES: Yes, okay.

JIM WALLACE: Now, the reality is we should be making sure public policy addresses the needs and the
rights of the child, not adults.

TONY JONES: Okay, briefly, I'm going to hear from the...

KRISTINA KENEALLY: But, no, I'm sorry, there are desperate children - there are desperate children
who cannot live, for a variety of reasons, with their own parents. We are desperately short of
foster parents. Sometimes the only people who step up and take that child that Jesus held up and
said the first of my kingdom, sometime the only people that take them are homosexual couples and
until very recently in New South Wales we denied those children the right to be adopted by the only
parents they'd ever known and who had loved them unconditionally. I find that a remarkable
situation and I can't see...

TONY JONES: And, incidentally, deny those parents the right to be married.


TONY JONES: Have you ever had this conversation with Julia Gillard?

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Well, you know, can I just come to a point here, you know, and this sort of goes
to something you said earlier about bringing the personal views into it. You know, we have an
atheist Prime Minister, a Catholic Leader of the Opposition and yet they seem to have the same view
about gay marriage. They have come to the same point that it's marriage is between a man and a
woman. You know, I'm Catholic. I don't agree with either of them and, yeah, I've got to say, you
know, let's have the debate about gay marriage. Let's bring it on.

CRISTINA RAD: What I don't understand what is this notion of a gay agenda, because you talk as if
gay people want to conquer the world and turn everybody gay and make everyone wear pink or
something, when the only agenda I see is that we want to have the same rights as straight people?

JIM WALLACE: I have identified the agendas. The agendas including wanting to be able to adopt
children. The agendas...

CRISTINA RAD: The same as straight people.

JIM WALLACE: No. Yeah, no. No.


JIM WALLACE: But there are agendas. There are agendas there. Agendas...

TONY JONES: Okay, I'm just going to interrupt there. We actually have a question that sort of goes
to this issue and I'm going to take it and then I'll let you continue with the discussion. It comes
from Alex Greenwich.


ALEX GREENWICH: If having married parents is in the best interests of a child, shouldn't the
Marriage Act stop denying the children of same sex couples the right to married parents?

TONY JONES: Gerard Henderson, you wanted to get in before.

GERARD HENDERSON: That question was so clever I didn't understand it actually. But if you go back
to what Josh was saying originally, I mean no one stopped Josh behaving any way he wants to behave.
I mean there are no rules to prevent his behaviour.

CRISTINA RAD: Except he can't get married.

GERARD HENDERSON: But the point is that the Prime Minister, before the last election, and the
Opposition Leader said they did not agree with same sex marriage. Between them the parties they led
got around 90% of the vote or certainly 80% of the vote and it's very easy for an audience like
this to ridicule people who have traditional views on marriage but I don't ridicule them. I think
they stand for something substantial and I don't know where this debate is going to go but it's
pretty easy to sit in an audience like this and just laugh at people who disagree with you. But...

TONY JONES: What do you personally think, Gerard? Do you think gay people should have the right to
be married, because really that was at the heart of the question?

GERARD HENDERSON: Well, they have a right...

TONY JONES: A set of parents gay and a set of parents straight, according to that questioner, still
gives a child the security of two parents.

GERARD HENDERSON: Well, they have a right to same sex unions in virtually all the legislations in
Australia. I wouldn't go to marriage at this stage, because I think there's too much opposition. I
think it's far too early and I don't really think it's necessary. No, I'm a conservative. I
acknowledge that. But I also respect people who hold this position. I don't think that people who
lead the Christian churches and, if you want to talk about same sex marriage and if you want to
laugh at people who are opposed to same sex marriage, go out to the Muslim community and laugh at


GERARD HENDERSON: Well, you do, yeah. Yeah, you do. I tell you what but the last atheist on this
program, Catherine Deveney, said that she would never criticise the Muslim community. She is too
busy criticising the Catholic Church. You do but your colleagues don't.

TONY JONES: I would deny that she was the last atheist on this program. Let's go to this questioner
down the front.

GERARD HENDERSON: She was the last flagging it.


AUDIENCE MEMBER: Just two comments. First, every child deserves a mother and a father because men
and women bring different things to the parenting role. And that seems something that most of us
grew up with, knowing our mum and our dad and if we've been through that experience we know. But,
secondly, in the UK, Christians have been banned from adopting - at least one Christian couple -
because they held traditional views on relationships, particularly about homosexuality and that
decision was appealed and they lost. To say that this isn't agenda that impacts other people, I
think it's just factually wrong. In Canada, in some of the States in the north east of the United
States, in the UK, it does.

TONY JONES: Okay, I'm going to ...

JIM WALLACE: Can I just...

TONY JONES: Well, very briefly.

JIM WALLACE: Can I say very quickly that in answer to your question up there, that the finding of
the research wasn't that children do best with two parents, it was they do best with the biological
mother and father married, you know.

TONY JONES: All right. I'm going to move on and, Rai, you'll get a chance to answer because we have
a video question to you. It's from Jay Gillieatt and Bronte Richardson in North Curl Curl in New
South Wales and I suspect you might be able to answer it in the context of this question.


JAY GILLIEATT & BRONTE RICHARDSON: In a little over four weeks, Year 12 students like us around NSW
will be gambling our futures on writing a thorough essay discussing your text Romulus, My Father.

BRONTE RICHARDON: What do you think Romulus, your father, would think of the thousands of essays
written by HSC students analysing his life?

STUDENTS: Thank you.

TONY JONES: So, Raimond, I think you can reflect not only on your book but on the whole idea of

RAIMOND GAITA: It's a lovely question and to tell you the truth I don't know. I mean obviously he'd
be very bemused but I've often thought just generally what he would think of the book and I have no
idea at all. I don't think he'd much like it actually, but that's another matter. I really wanted
to say something about the gay issue.

TONY JONES: No, well, you can. You can. I mean, I just thought we were talking about parenting and
I thought that might give you a chance to discuss that as well. You came from a very complicated
parent situation.

RAIMOND GAITA: Okay, but there are two issues about the gay thing. One is the kind of functional
sociological thing, you know, what's best for kids and that's an empirical question and it's
complicated? But the reason people are against gay marriage is not for the empirical reasons. They
are against it, I think, because they find homosexual relations distasteful. Because if you ask the
question why is it that people are agreed to various civil contracts and so on but stop at
marriage, I think it's because they think gay sex can't go deep enough to be celebrated by marriage
and, well...

GERARD HENDERSON: Well, that's easy to say but they may just have a particular view of marriage and
many religions, including the Islam religion, there are traditional views of marriage and it's very
easy to dismiss them as a some kind of phobia but they just may believe in marriage between man and
woman, which is what Julia Gillard said. What's wrong with that?

RAIMOND GAITA: Okay. But the question is....

TONY JONES: She believes so strongly she didn't get married.

RAIMOND GAITA: The question is why and one of the things I thought we were in agreement on before
is that scripture isn't going to determine our laws...

GERARD HENDERSON: Well, it doesn't.

RAIMOND GAITA: what Romans says is rather irrelevant, it seems to me, to our law.

GERARD HENDERSON: Well, I haven't quoted Roman tonight. I have not one Roman.

JIM WALLACE: I was asked to.

RAIMOND GAITA: But sexuality is so fundamental to our sense of what it is to be human. I mean, the
old thing about birth and death and so on and it seems to me to deny - gays don't want this it's
not a matter of liberalism, right, because liberalism says, look, as long as you're not harming
anybody else, that's okay, but that's consistent with finding it disgusting. They say you do
disgusting thing, as long as it doesn't. What they want is a recognition of the dignity of their
sexuality and that is being denied to them. And given how fundamental sexuality is to our sense of
what it is to be human, it is not an exaggeration to say, I think, that it's a denial of their full

TONY JONES: You've actually equated this to - briefly, because I want to hear from Jim and the
other panellists, but you have equated this to racism.

RAIMOND GAITA: Well, I think - look, I think are parallels because I think it's true that one of
the interesting things about a certain kind of racism is the incapacity to see depth in the inner
lives of the racially denigrated people, right? I think this happened - I've argued this happened
in the case of the stolen children where a fellow, Isdell, notoriously said when was ask does it
bother him to take children away from their parents he said "No, because no matter how much they
wailed, et cetera, they soon forget their offspring".

GERARD HENDERSON: But it's very easy to classify anyone you disagree with as racist. I mean, that's
pretty easy to do.

CRISTINA RAD: But there's a good analogy to be made.

RAIMOND GAITA: I'm not classifying them as racist.

GERARD HENDERSON: You are. You're saying they're racist.

TONY JONES: Well, hang on, let's hear from Cristina on this.

CRISTINA RAD: There's a good analogy to be made. I mean not too long ago there was a law that
prohibited marriage between a black man and a white woman and the other way around but for the same
reasons. There were the same arguments: what about the children?

JIM WALLACE: I don't think it is same reasons. I mean as someone who is a Christian, you know, is
anti racism and I think Christian have been at the forefront with Wilberforce, with Martin Luther
King against racism but the reality is that marriage is between a man and a woman and it doesn't
matter how good...

CRISTINA RAD: It's the reality because you make it.

JIM WALLACE: No, wait. It doesn't matter how good - it doesn't matter how good two lesbians may be
as parents, they cannot be a mother and a father to a child.

CRISTINA RAD: What about single parents?


CRISTINA RAD: Single parents?

JIM WALLACE: Yeah, I know. No, of course we have all sorts of situations that result in less than
perfect situations but as society....


JIM WALLACE: Well, if anyone looks at the stats, you'll find that very few people who end up as
single parents set out to end up as single parents. But the reality is that a child does best with
its mother and father, that two lesbians, no matter how good a parents they are, cannot provide a
mother and a father to a child.

TONY JONES: Okay, we are literally out of time. We can have a final word to Kristina Keneally.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: I'd just say on this subject I'd just say all political parties make the
argument that family is the basic well, I don't know about the Greens but certainly Labor and
Liberal make the argument that the family is the basic building block of society and we all know
all the studies show that married families have a whole range of benefits. They live longer, they,
you know, have all the - they make more money et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. A whole bunch of
studies back that up. They why, if we want to privilege marriage and we want to privilege families
as the way that our society should be built, why, why, why don't we grant all families the right to
be married?

TONY JONES: Okay. Sorry, we are out of time. In fact we're over time so please thank our panel
Raimond Gaita, Jim Wallace, Kristina Keneally, Cristina Rad and Gerard Henderson. Okay, we'll be
back next week for another lively Q&A with Federal Independent Rob Oakeshott, the Minister for
Mental Health Mark Butler, recently retired Liberal Senator Helen Coonan, actor William McInnes and
conservative commentator Janet Albrechtsen. Until next week, good night.