I’ve always considered Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan to be the Costco version of his hyper progressive Victorian counterpart Daniel Andrews.
Mr McCosto. That’s what I’m gonna call him. A bit cheaper, a bit more populist. But hey, it is Perth after all! Riding a wave of separatist sentiment during the COVID wave meant that the Premier romped home with the last state election, leaving the local Liberal Party in tatters. In effect the ALP will rule unimpeded for years in WA.
But when it comes to progressive ideas hostile to the gospel, Mr Costco seems to have chucked away the big box warehouse strategy, and is going full price, top-of-the-range, Woolworths signature range when it comes to proposed anti-discrimination legislation. And like Dan Andrews, he has faith communities, especially Christian schools in his sights.
Simply put the McCostco government is set to thump religious schools over the head with an anti-discrimination legislative hammer that is, if we’re honest, merely a solution looking for a problem to solve. He’s looked a few states, and a few thousand kilometres, over to Victoria and went “I’ll have what they’ve got, only make it less sophisticated.”
Speaking in the Parliament yesterday, State Attorney General, John Quigley, outlined the changes that are coming to the state’s anti-discrimination legislation is an overhaul of an outdated system. And looking through some of the issues, that’s certainly true.
For example, extending the prohibition against sexual and racial harassment to members of parliament and staff seems almost obvious. Why wasn’t that there before?
And removing the outdated “disadvantage test” for sexual harassment complaints seems eminently sensible too.
So what other horrors are there in the anti-discrimination lag in WA?
Turns out there’s this:
“Strengthening equal opportunity protections for LGBTIQA+ staff and students in religious schools.”
Sigh. It doesn’t matter how often a Christian school tells a government minister that no kids are being kicked out of schools for being gay, the message doesn’t sink in. Actually that’s not true. The message does sink in. They just don’t care, because that’s not the issue at hand. The number of ALP members who are actively hostile towards independent schooling is indicative of the wider contempt among progressives.
And in lumping this issue in with those other obvious issues, the government is pretty much painting faith-based schools with the same brush as domestic violence and sexual harassment.
Let me repeat it: There is a deep ideological loathing of faith-based schools, especially Christian faith-based schools that do not bow to the progressive orthodoxy around sexuality, in the Western Australian Labor Party. I’ve been told by those who attended hearings at Parliament, or who gave evidence of how Christian schools actually did run, of the eye-rolling, the scorn, and the general ennui of government members, who have already decided how this thing is going to be played out.
The McCostco government is not all that interested in the bits of anti-discrimination it doesn’t like, because after all, this is an era of competing rights, and religious rights are not all that high up on the intersectionality totem pole. And let’s face it, we’re basically being governed by the most irreligious of the post-religious people in the land.
Faith-based schools are now going to have to argue their case, and it will be case by case, when issues arise. Simply put, the McCostco government does not recognise any form of religion that moves beyond the realm of your ideas and actually has any feet on the ground. If Christian schools do not have the freedom to hire – and yes, to fire -, according to their ethical frameworks, then there’s not much point having such schools.
Which is exactly what the ideologues in the ALP want. I mean after all, how does one get one’s hands on the malleable minds of children in order to educate them in the ways of this Sexular Age, if those pesky Christian schools promote a sexual ethic that says something different?
Someone in the know told me this today about the proposed WA laws:
There’s a decent chance they’re stronger than the conversion therapy legislation, particularly the anti discrimination protections for those who are trans and gender diverse – as they might apply in all situations to all speech – as they currently do for most other discrimination complaints.
He added this:
Yikes to anyone running a Christian school, soon to be government approved Christian school 😛
Yikes indeed. Though, sadly as always, there will be some faith-based schools who have shifted their theological stance over the years, who will be all too eager to sign up, to celebrate the fact that they do, and who would never dream of supporting their non-revisionist fellow educators who stand up to Mr McCostco.
Christian schools should push hard against this legislation, all the while continuing to provide the deep, rich alternate ethical communities that gather around the deep well of Jesus, and shun the lolly water of moralistic therapeutic deism that too many education systems succumb to in order to keep in with the spirit of the age.
In the end you just have to believe that that the sweet signature range of Jesus and his gospel community will continue to entice the discerning buyer, and show up the sterile uniformity of the big box state re-education warehouse for what it is.