Jesuit and lawyer Fr Frank Brennan has warned that Western democracy is in a “precarious condition” and proposes three key changes to help strengthen trust in Australia’s system of government. Source: The Australian.
Fr Brennan pointed to the push to impeach President Donald Trump in the US and the Brexit crisis in Britain as two examples of democracy under pressure in nations that had “long served as models or examples for Australia”.
“Since the Great Depression, each generation until now has expected that their living circumstances will improve and will be better than those of their parents. That is no longer the case,” he said. “The dream of owning one’s own home, experiencing full employment, and living a lifelong commitment in marriage is less likely to be realised in future.”
In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into nationhood, national identity and democracy, Fr Brennan said that there were “social and cultural factors at play in all our societies which we disregard at our peril”.
He identified three key areas for reform to help revive trust in government and ensure that Australia was viewed as more than the world’s “preferred quarry and beach destination”.
These included doing more to advance Indigenous recognition in the Constitution, removing section 44(i) of the Constitution to allow dual citizens to serve in Parliament and strengthening protections for religious freedoms.
A passionate defence is made of religious freedom, with Fr Brennan – a member of the review into the issue led by former Liberal attorney-general Philip Ruddock – saying that the UN Declaration of Human Rights provided for the right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion”.
“As we have a Sex Discrimination Act which deals with discrimination on the basis of various criteria including sexual orientation, it is desirable that we at least have a religious discrimination act,” he said.
Fr Brennan argued the change was necessary to ensure that Australian society did not “privilege any particular comprehensive world view in the public square”.
‘Reform needed to save Western democracy’, says Brennan (The Australian)