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Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Page: 5120

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (16:06): There has been recent public comment that the daily recital of the Lord's Prayer to mark the opening of our federal parliament should be abandoned or, alternatively, that the parliament should be opened every day with different prayers on a rotational basis, representing the wide variety of religious communities in Australia. Although I consider myself a Christian, I admit that I am not a regular churchgoer and I also admit that I only occasionally regularly attend the opening of our parliamentary chamber to recite the Lord's Prayer.

I understand that some might think that the daily recital of the Lord's Prayer is outdated, unimportant, an anachronism and does not reflect contemporary, multicultural Australia. However, these calls should be rejected, for they are completely misguided. We are a Christian country and the entire basis of our nation's relatively prosperous and equitable society, our respect for the rights of women and our acceptance of minorities, is directly related to our Judeo-Christian heritage and culture.

One of the traditions of our nation is the recital of the Lord's Prayer to mark the opening of our federal parliament. This should be retained. We do not simply change our traditions and heritage on a whim. And, just as we should not seek to remove either the Saint George's Cross or the Saint Andrew's Cross from our national flag, we should not seek to remove the Lord's Prayer to open our federal parliament.

The second issue I would like to raise in this limited time is the appalling situation that we are currently witnessing in Queensland, where four young girls aged 15, 13, 11 and nine, all Australian citizens, have been in hiding from federal agents, fearful that, if captured, they would be rounded up like cattle, handcuffed, sedated, and forcibly bundled onto an aeroplane and deported to a foreign country against their will.

Having read through the judgment of the Family Court, I have grave concerns that a great injustice will be done if these children are deported. Section 91 of our Family Law Act gives the Attorney-General the power to intervene in and contest or argue any question arising in any proceedings under the Family Law Act. Now that the proceedings are afoot in the High Court, where I understand an appeal will be filed today in this matter, I call on our Attorney-General to exercise the powers that she has under our laws to ensure these children are not deported and that their case can be fully reviewed. If these children, two of whom are teenagers, truly express the will that they wish to remain here in Australia, they should be able to do so.