Has Shorten Undermined the Australian Constitution?

In the final days of the federal election Bill Shorten has resorted to questioning the theology of the Prime Minister so as to avoid answering—somewhat predictably—an uncomfortable question. The Daily Telegraph reports that the Opposition Leader was asked about Paul Keating’s description of Peter Dutton as ‘mean’ and his response was a classic bait-and-switch:

I actually think the meanest commentary I’ve seen in the election is actually the propositions being advanced that gay people are going to go to Hell … I cannot believe in this election that there is a discussion even under way that gay people will go to Hell.

I cannot believe that the Prime Minister has not immediately said that gay people will not go to hell. This country needs to really lift itself and the political debate … in the next four days …. The nation has got to stop eating itself in this sort of madness of division and toxicity.

Wait a minute. Who said anything—besides Israel Folau—about homosexuals going to hell? Certainly, not Scott Morrison. The actual question was about an accusation made by a former Labor leader. Shorten’s answer had nothing whatsoever to do with the question he’d been asked.

But there is an even deeper issue at state. And that is, the Australian Constitutionsection c116 to be precise—states:

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

It’s that last part in particular which is the key. Because by asking the Prime Minister about his own personal position on a theological issue he is, in practice, proposing a de facto “religious test” in determining whether Mr Morrison is fit for public office.

But as Miranda Devine writes, it is more than a little hypocritical of Shorten to lecture Morrison on civility. As Devine rightly states:

And yet throughout the campaign he has belittled people who don’t share his views on climate change as “knuckle-draggers” and “cave dwellers”. During the same sex-marriage debate he pilloried those who didn’t want to change the definition of marriage as, “haters [who] come out from underneath the rock”.

This is not a man who respects dissent.

Only on Monday Shorten was claiming to be a champion of free speech: “People are allowed to express their opinions and they should be able to do so without fear or favour, full stop.”

Tell that to Folau. Or the Gladstone worker who lost his job after asking Shorten an inconvenient question.

What Devine writes here is spot on. If a Shorten Labor government is elected this weekend it will mark the beginning of the end for religious freedom and freedom of speech in this country. Because the establishment of an LGBTIQ watchdog—to the tune of $1.4 million—to monitor gay and lesbian rights, they will have created their own Ministry of Truth.

By |2019-05-15T18:16:53+11:00May 15th, 2019|Australia, Authors, Leadership|55 Comments

About the Author:

Mark Powell has six children and he is a Presbyterian minister at Cornerstone Church in Strathfield, Sydney. Mark writes for the Spectator and is a passionate advocate for faith and family; he has been on radio and TV advocating for Freedom, Faith, Family and Life.

55 Comments

  1. Athol Harris May 15, 2019 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mark for you sharing and providing further evidence that Mr Shorten is unsuitable to lead this amazing country.

    • Judith May 16, 2019 at 4:27 am - Reply

      May God give you the boldness to continue speaking the truth. The truth shall set us free. Amen

    • markpowell May 16, 2019 at 11:56 am - Reply

      Thanks Athol, that’s very kind of you.

  2. Drury Heath May 15, 2019 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    Mark, you have hinted at a difficulty that most politicians (and probably many people) have with distinguishing between what makes a good, fruitful and viable society and what doesn’t.

    Simply put: if we follow Jesus’ example by loving the person regardless of their place in life, opinions and afflictions as well as supporting that person by helping to undo or heal any physical, mental or spiritual problems they have through prayerful and practical activities we will build the best possible society.

    To put it another way. Society will be broken down by choosing to ignore the fact that it is a physical, mental or spiritual affliction requiring correction and not the person as a living being who has to be consigned to lifelong suffering because of their affliction.

    A balanced, loving and fruitful society requires healthy debate but here we have Bill Shorten doing exactly what he says we should not do, quote “The nation has got to stop eating itself in this sort of madness of division and toxicity.” He does not understand the distinction between a person and the affliction.

    • markpowell May 16, 2019 at 11:57 am - Reply

      Great comments and thoughts Drury. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

  3. Geoffrey Gates May 15, 2019 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Bill Shorten is certainly not the man to lead this great country of Australia.

    • Jeanette Paterson May 16, 2019 at 12:35 am - Reply

      I totally agree with you Geoffrey, Mr. Shorten is decidedly short of morals, ethics and the truth.
      He is not a man of stature to take on the position of Prime Minister.

  4. Henry Ko May 15, 2019 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Let us put this saga into context

    The prime minister was asked by a journalist on Monday if he believed gay people would go to hell.
    “I support the law of the country,” was his reply on Monday. (PM)
    Opposition Leader Bill Shorten brought the issue up again on Tuesday.
    “I don’t need a law to tell me that. I just don’t believe it,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Tasmania.
    When the two leaders later traded locations on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Morrison said he did not believe gay people go to hell and said the issue had nothing to do with the election.
    “I’m not running for pope, I’m running for prime minister,” Mr Morrison said.
    “These are religious issues and I don’t want to see those controversial topics being brought into the political debate. I don’t see how that helps anybody.”
    .
    Apparently the PM had State and Church separate in mind and didn’t want to discuss religious matter in this election. Whereas Mr. Shorten did his best to drag the PM into a religious debate in order to win votes from non-believers.What a trick!

    • markpowell May 16, 2019 at 11:59 am - Reply

      Yes Mr Shorton seems to be the master of the old bait-and-switch tactic.

  5. Dianne Holyland May 15, 2019 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Mr Shorten is confused, commenting that ‘gay people going to hell’ is part of the election. I thought it was to do with Israel Folau and Rugby Australia. Nothing to do with the election. Then he reprimands the Prime Minister for not contradicting the bible by saying that gay people will NOT go to hell, as if he were making the decision. It seems that Mr Shorten is grasping at straws by bringing this issue in the election debate.

    • markpowell May 16, 2019 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      I agree Dianne. It’s a desperate tactic being used to try and gain power

  6. Raylene McPherson May 15, 2019 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Miranda Devine is so right. We just have to keep praying and hope that God answers our prayers.

    • markpowell May 16, 2019 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      Yes, Miranda is a journalist with integrity and faith. We definitely need to keep praying and trusting in God Raylene

  7. Lynne Walsh May 15, 2019 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    The United Nations charter of Rights tells me I have the right to have religious beliefs.

  8. Shane Duke May 15, 2019 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    Very interesting information. Thanks Mark.
    We really need to be aware of who we vote for this election!

  9. Karen May 15, 2019 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    Interesting read, thankyou Mark

    • markpowell May 16, 2019 at 12:04 pm - Reply

      Pleasure. Thanks for the encouragement!

  10. Ann Taylor May 15, 2019 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    In today’s society it is difficult, to say the least, to find any dependable truth in most media outlets. It is so refreshing to read articles that does declare truth.
    Mr Shorten seems to have a problem in this area. On the other hand, he has no problem with hypocrisy and Playing dirty.
    The outcome of the election depends greatly on God’s people praying. 2 Chronicles 7:14. Prayer turns the tide

  11. Anna Soh May 15, 2019 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Bill Shorten needs to make his mind up! Is he open to freedom of religion and speech or is he not?

  12. Dina Fernández May 16, 2019 at 12:10 am - Reply

    I believe Bill Shorten will not be allowed to become prime minister. His lack.of morals is obvious to all. His past is a clear proof that he is an unfit leader or rol.model. May God be gracious to this Great Southland of rhe Holy Spirit.

  13. Steph M May 16, 2019 at 12:17 am - Reply

    Listening to Bill Shorten on some of the TV ads this evening, he sounds like he would make a good trade unionist!!

  14. Florence May 16, 2019 at 12:51 am - Reply

    Bill Shorten is a tricky and a person of no integrity. He is not fit to lead this nation. We should not vote for Labour.

  15. Florence May 16, 2019 at 1:12 am - Reply

    Will Bill Shorten rob the rich and the poor to pay for the establishment of an LGBTIQ watchdog—to the tune of $1.4 million—to monitor gay and lesbian rights, which they will have created their own Ministry of Truth.

    • markpowell May 16, 2019 at 12:03 pm - Reply

      That is a great question Florence. Mr Shorten has seemed to be quite fuzzy when it comes to explaining his costings. What’s more, why do we even need this?

  16. Rosamund Kirkwood May 16, 2019 at 6:44 am - Reply

    Mark – well done for your scholarly research in noting and in highlighting the fact that the constitution states that no religious test is required as a qualification for office.

    • markpowell May 16, 2019 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rosamund! Appreciate the feedback and encouragement

  17. Margaret Beerling May 16, 2019 at 6:56 am - Reply

    Shorten is very sneaky so I pray peoptle will be aware even at this late time and vote for religious freedom; as an RI teacher I love being with the children and giving them hope in this, at times very negative world.

  18. Jenny May 16, 2019 at 7:11 am - Reply

    Yes its all very hypocritical.

  19. Judith May 16, 2019 at 9:00 am - Reply

    Mr Shorten must read the true bible if at all there’s a thread of religion in him. Someone has to remind him that he is accountable to God for every decision he makes and every word he utters

  20. Kim May 16, 2019 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Excellent article! May every eye be open to every hypocrisy

  21. Christine May 16, 2019 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Thanks Mark for highlighting that Bill Shorten has spoken so inappropriately. It would be good if this article reached the main stream news channels to reveal the truth to the Australian public before Saturday.

  22. Brenda Lindsay-Holley May 16, 2019 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Thank you for speaking the truth.

  23. Megan Knight May 16, 2019 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    If I am to be free, then I have a responsibility to allow others that same freedom. Freedom for one by taking away another’s freedom is dictatorship and against our Australian Constitution

  24. Patrick May 16, 2019 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Thanks for speaking out Mark, Amen to the truth being revealed

  25. Rodney James McCormack May 16, 2019 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    Going against Gods written word in allowing the santification of Marriage to be slandered in this country by a minority group of militant activists will only bring stricter judgement on themselves Romans 1 ;24-31

  26. Nancy Klum May 16, 2019 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Bill Shorten is a wicked man.. deceitful and dishonest.. he is unable to tell people how he is going to find his promises.. higher taxes. Unfortunately people are greedy and want more money but don’t realise it will lead to less jobs and higher taxes

  27. Maggie Murray May 16, 2019 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    The malice that has been evident from the Left in this election is unprecedented. How could we Christians possibly believe that Bill Shorten will protect freedom of religion and speech when he is so beholden to the Left and the Greens. I fear for our children and grandchildren if Labor becomes government.

  28. Jeannine Powell May 16, 2019 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    thank you Mark . This is a sad time for us who know our children and grandchildren will be facing persecution we could never foresee in our democracy. Praise God for those who stand for the truth.

  29. Jaime Kerr May 16, 2019 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mark for exposing the Bill Shorten’s hypocrisy. I really hope he doesn’t become our prime minister with all his abhorrent policies.

  30. Lisa Smith May 16, 2019 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    It’s interesting that Presbyterians believe in the non-biblical practice of baptising infants and the Catholic belief that Jesus is genuinely present in the bread and wine, another non-biblical belief. So A Presbyterian is lecturing people on right and wrong?

    • Fide et Veritate May 18, 2019 at 7:13 pm - Reply

      I believe that God delights in answering our prayers. So when the Priest and the congregation ask Jesus, in prayer, to change the substance of the bread and wine into His Body & Blood, why wouldn’t he? Most prayers people ask for aren’t in the Bible but I presume you don’t think they are all not going to be answered? And where Jesus is, I want to be.

  31. Colleen Cranston May 17, 2019 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Has Mr Shorten gone mad, does he think he is god? We need government that upholds the values we were founded on. Thank you Mark Powell for standing for the truth.

  32. Megan May 17, 2019 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mark for interesting article. Bill Shorten sounds like a very desperate man to stoop so low as to continue to attack Scott Morrison’s Christian’s beliefs. I pray that God will help him to see the truth. Perhaps he may, when he comes crashing down with the Green’s in this election!

  33. Chinh Dinh May 17, 2019 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    I pray that Bill Shorten and the mainstream media will cease digging holes into which they will fall!

  34. Sakura May 17, 2019 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    shorten, the alp and the greens will destroy Australia with their uncosted promises paid for by tax slugs to those who can least afford it, not to mention the imposition of the thought police and marxist indoctrination in every public institution in Australia.

  35. Francis Colosimo. May 18, 2019 at 2:24 am - Reply

    Let me quote the (Royal emphasis mine) Authorized King James Bible, AND it states in Leviticus 20:13, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Again let me quote from the New Testament in Revelation 21:8, (because many Say but oh, that was the Old Testament, which has been done away with, but it has not as the sacrificial part has been totally eliminated due to the Lord being the ultimate sacrifice for our sins), and those who still walk in ignorance state, “but in the New Testament it states that we are to love all people, even our enemies”), so let us read Revelation 21:8, and I quote” But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the Lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Those that commit an abomination, ‘the abominable’ as mentioned in Leviticus and Deuteronomy Etc. are those who commit sodomy, thus homosexuals, and also lesbians who lie with their own kind. We cannot minimize this, because it is better to repent now according to our wonderful Jesus’ command, rather than spending eternity in the ‘Lake of Fire’, and ALL those who are lukewarm and fearful well the word tells us that the Lord will spit you out of his mouth and the fearful will not inherit the kingdom of God and thus there is only one other place where the rebellious will go. This is tough love but love none the less. If the church had obeyed the Lord, there would not have been a win for the yes vote, BUT to me that does not matter, because mere weak sinful man cannot change the Lord’s Word, that he created them male and female and NO MAN can change that, SO, sodomites and lesbians according to our wonderful creators instructions, commands, statutes, ordinances etc. etc. are not permitted to marry, or are allowed to marry, cannot get married, etc. etc. AND my brother Israel was one 100% correct, they had no right, but hell awaits them, and incidentally I was sacked from my radio programme for the same reason, after 15 years on air, and that is that I too like Israel LOVED the “queers” by telling them the truth of what the future holds for them, plus as he did I also warned all unrepentant sinners, just as Israel did. God bless you all. LOVE AND TRUTH CAN NEVER BE SEPARATED.

  36. Irma Morzone May 18, 2019 at 8:17 am - Reply

    When gay marriage was legalised in Australia, that was when the Trojan Horse was allowed in. All that we were warned about is happening – all our freedom went down from then. Abortion to birth has escalated. All the believers in abortion should be shown the dead little bodies of those innocent babies, torn and broken and some still alive and left to die on a sink. No one cares how we are offended every day by pro gay publicity and infiltration into children’s education and cartoons commencing from early childhood.
    Unfortunately Mr Shorten has been allowed to get away with so much hate and power, especially with so much media on his side. He is a real dictator and a narcissist.
    Everyone I have spoken to is dreading Shorten winning; Where do the votes come from? Same as gay marriage, where did all the votes come from? Thank God for Is our brother Israel for standing up for us all; May God keep him safe and give him all the support he needs. God bless you all. we need to support each other – we are not islands.Irma

  37. John Gerber May 18, 2019 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Thank goodness that theARU found Folau “guilty”. Had they not, the issue might have disappeared. Now they are going to be held out to greater scrutiny and justification.

  38. Raine Thimpson May 18, 2019 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Thank you for all the interesting comments. Israel Falau’s treatment is all about money and who controls the purse. He has been pilloried because Qantas sponsors the Wallabies and the Head of Qantas is gay. Kerry Anne Kennelly had a very strong ‘go’ at Bill Shorten over his policies regarding abortion and euthanasia, and rightly so, but she hasn’t been silenced, probably because she is not sponsored by Qantas.
    Our freedom of speech is threatened by money. Israel Falau is a very good example of someone standing up for his beliefs and I believe God will honour him.

  39. Mic May 19, 2019 at 2:01 am - Reply

    The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

    That same Constitution also declares that the Nation State of Australia is SECULAR, which means that there is no place for religious representation in government.

    • David Mowat May 24, 2019 at 11:29 am - Reply

      Mic,
      That same Constitution also declares that the Nation State of Australia is SECULAR, which means that there is no place for religious representation in government.
      Could you please advise me where it says in the Constitution that “the Nation State of Australia is SECULAR”? I have checked both the topic index and the general index and cannot find that word.
      The first sentence in our Constitution states:
      “…humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, ….”
      How does that make it SECULAR?.
      Regards & God Bless,
      David

  40. […] said that gay people will not go to hell,” sneered Shorten, effectively creating a de facto religious test for office―which, by the way, is outlawed in Australia’s […]

  41. […] said that gay people will not go to hell," scoffed Shorten, effectively creating a de facto religious test for office―which, by the way, is outlawed in Australia's […]

  42. […] in the election campaign. Ignoring section 116 of the Constitution, which says there shall be no religious test for public office, Shorten demanded to know where Scott Morrison stood on the “gays/hell” […]

  43. Cody June 8, 2019 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Thanks for your thoughts, Mark! When Shorten made those comments I immediately thought of section 116 and hoped that someone would pick up on the attack on the Constitution.

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