Wednesday 11 October 2017
Report and pictures: Toby Ward
Today, representatives of Victoria’s leading religions gathered on
the steps of Parliament to deliver a joint statement to Deputy Premier,
James Merlino, regarding the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill.
‘Multifaith Statement’ is signed by Sheikh Isse Abdo Musse (President,
Board of Imams Victoria), Phra Khru Kampee-panya-withet (Abbot,
Melbourne Thai Buddhist Temple), Makarand Bhagwat (Victorian Director,
Hindu Council of Australia), Rabbi Daniel Rabin (President, Rabbinical
Council of Victoria), Jasbir Singh Suropada (Chairman, Sikh Interfaith
Council of Victoria) and Bishop Peter Danaher (President, Victorian
Council of Churches).
Kawalpreet Singh, from the Sikh Interfaith
Council of Victoria, stood next to the Deputy Premier as he read the
statement before the faith representatives each said their names in
support of the shared announcement.
Asking the Parliament
to reject the proposed assisted dying legislation, the statement
highlighted the shared beliefs of the religious leaders.
are of different faiths but, in our diverse communities, we believe in
compassion,’ read Mr Singh. ‘Compassion is best addressed to the
alleviation of suffering and the care for life, which our traditions
‘We are concerned that deliberate interventions to end life tear at the fabric of our society.
urge, for the good of the entire community, that the Government extend
access to palliative care to all Victorians who need it.’
Merlino, who has publicly expressed his opposition to the Bill,
commended the solidarity of the multi-faith gathering and said it was
important to consider their perspective.
‘For the different
faith communities to come together in such a strong way is
unprecedented,’ said the Deputy Premier, ‘I will make sure that all my
colleagues in Parliament are aware.’
Bhagwat, from the Hindu Council of Australia, also pointed to the clear
accord between the religious leaders, echoing Mr Merlino’s sentiments.
of us coming together here is an extraordinary thing. It demonstrates
to the Parliament that we are all together especially on the matter of
such sensitive issues.’
‘I’m here today to be with colleagues and
people of other faiths to together witness our misgivings and our
unhappiness with this proposed legislation,’ explained the Victorian
Council of Churches’ signatory, Bishop Peter Danaher. ‘We need to focus
far more on palliative care and the care of all those who are facing the
final parts of their life.’
Executive Officer of the Ecumenical
Interfaith Commission, David Schütz, said that although joint religious
action was infrequent, the united display underlined the importance of
the issue and the mutual respect that exists between Victoria’s
‘This Bill, while attempting to uphold
that dignity through enabling personal autonomy, actually greatly
endangers the security and care of the many for the sake of a few,’ he
said. ‘This group represents the result of a lot of dialogue and hard
‘So we have been discussing, drinking tea and eating
cake together for a long time in order to prepare for this day,’ added