SA Greens push to drop parly prayers

November 07, 2022 02:54 PM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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The Greens in South Australia will push to abolish the Lord's Prayer at the opening of parliamentary sessions, with an MP describing the tradition as an "anachronism that serves no democratic purpose".

Upper House MP Robert Simms will seek to amend parliament's standing orders early next year, in a similar push to that by the Greens in NSW.

"Fundamentally, our parliament is a workplace. There are few other workplaces in our state or indeed our nation that begin their working day with a mandatory prayer," Mr Simms told parliament recently.

"It really is out of step with community expectations in 21st century South Australia."

Mr Simms said reciting a Christian prayer by tradition also served to alienate parliamentarians from the community they sought to represent.

Based on the most recent Australian census, 46 per cent of South Australians identified as holding no religious views while 40 per cent identified as Christian.

"Given our duty to serve the interests of all South Australians, why on earth do we begin our parliamentary session with a prayer that is associated with the religion not observed by a majority of our constituents," he said.

"As well as being out of step with community opinion, the practice fails to reflect the diversity of this parliament itself.

"I submit to you that reciting the Lord's Prayer at the start of every parliamentary sitting is an anachronism that serves no democratic purpose."

Mr Simms will propose dropping the prayer in favour of a non-denominational statement.

Premier Peter Malinauskas indicated such a change was not high on his agenda, but didn't totally debunk the idea.

"I think the parliament has to continue to evolve to reflect both the traditions of the past that are worthy of preserving but also making sure we've got a keen eye on delivering outcomes for the future of our state," he said on Monday.

"That's certainly where my focus is."

The premier said there were a number of ways the parliament could celebrate the "enormous" diversity across SA that didn't have to come at the expense of tradition.

On the issue of parliamentary prayers, public policy think tank, the Australia Institute, recently quizzed more than 600 South Australians, with 63 per cent in favour of replacing them with a minute of silent reflection.

"Other states are investigating their options when looking at how they mark the opening of their parliamentary sitting days and there is no reason South Australia cannot do the same," the institute's SA Director Noah Schultz-Byard said.


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