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Time to Rethink Parliamentary Prayers

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 7 August 2017

Tags: Multicultural Affairs, Tasmanian Aboriginals, Standing Orders

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens' Leader 

The daily Tasmanian Parliamentary recitation of the Lord’s Prayer no longer reflects contemporary Tasmanian society, which is multicultural and multi-faith.

Every sitting day of the Tasmanian Parliament, the Lord’s Prayer is recited by those MPs who choose to recite it.  On average, less than half Tasmanian lower House members say the words each morning. 

Our Parliament should be inclusive and truly representative.  In the upcoming debate on the House of Assembly Standing Orders, we will move to see the Orders reflect a modern Australia.

The Greens believe that instead of reciting the Christian Lord’s Prayer in a routine which has become meaningless to the operation of the Parliament, MPs should reflect on their responsibility to the people of Tasmania.  That is our core duty, to do right by Tasmania and its people.

The ACT have already replaced the Lord's Prayer with a non-denominational affirmation of the responsibility all elected representatives have to the people.  The ACT model, which the Greens are proposing to adopt, allows members of all faiths or no faith to reflect in their chosen way.

Religion and faith is a very personal matter. In a contemporary Parliament, where we have the separation of church and State, the daily recital of the Christian Lord’s Prayer is an anachronism of another time and no longer relevant to the work of Parliament.

The Greens recognise that the Parliament currently pays lip service to Tasmania's 40 000 plus years of Aboriginal history, and we believe a daily recognition of the first people is respectful and more appropriate than the current arrangement.

We will also seek to include the recognition of Tasmania’s first people at the start of each day’s sitting. The current procedure only recognises Tasmania's Aboriginal people at the start of each Parliamentary session.

We would like to see the Tasmanian Parliament, each day, not only provide members with an opportunity to reflect on their responsibility to the people of Tasmania but acknowledge our first people.  These changes would bring the rules and procedures governing Tasmania's House of Assembly into the 21st century.