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Thanks for your concern, but my religion is not in need of protection

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12.07.2018

The recent contribution to our national debate on religious freedom by Social Services Minister Dan Tehan is to be welcomed. Delivering a named oration in honour of English cleric Sir Thomas More, Tehan argued that the dilution of Australia’s Christian identity may undermine the nature of our society, which he conceives as deriving its unique character from Judeo-Christian foundations.

As veterans affairs minister, Tehan brought genuine compassion to a dysfunctional system that was compounding, rather than alleviating, the pain of veterans. Some of my mates, who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder bleakly joke that they will forgive the Taliban before they forgive our bureaucracy for its indifference to their plight.

Social Services Minister Dan Tehan.

Tehan worked tirelessly to humanise his department and I saw him intervene personally when clumsy bureaucracy was compounding the distress of veterans. The most prominent example was during the commemorations of the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan in August 2016, when he personally directed that Army buses convey veterans from the Last Post ceremony at the Australian War Memorial to a reception with the Prime Minister at Parliament House. Some genius in the Department of Veterans' Affairs had decided that they could walk or ride by cab to Parliament in the depth of a Canberra winter evening for a reception timed to commence within half an hour of the War Memorial event. It was an absurd decision which Tehan rectified personally.

Let me declare my conflicts.........

© Canberra Times