Praying for political correctness

THEY’RE at it again, the political correctness brigade who want to change history and tradition on the spurious basis of so-called gender based language.

Our politicians in the upper house of the West Australian parliament have spent two years considering the merits of a daily prayer which states that God ordained “man should live as a social being… in his own true purpose…”

Debate was sparked two years ago when a Labor senator proposed a new daily prayer because, she said, schoolchildren were exposed to “archaic language” when visiting the public gallery.

What about schoolchildren being denied history, heritage and tradition? I ask. What next? Does the man in the moon become person in the moon?”

Now there’s nothing more guaranteed to get politicians confused than debate which involves politics, religion and monarchy – our Labor senator’s new prayer would also drop reference to Her Majesty – so they fell back on the traditional parliamentary tactic of referring the matter to a committee.

Fast forward nearly two years and the Standing Committee on Procedure and Privileges has tabled its report recommending “minor changes” to the wording rather than a totally new prayer. The five man committee – sorry, five person committee (two women, three men) – suggests that “we should live as social beings, seeking the fulfilment of our own true purpose within society” and so on. Interestingly, the reference to Her Majesty stays.

The committee notes that there is no change to the traditional reading of the Lord’s Prayer at the start of each sitting, but that the additional daily prayer offers Legislative Council senators “an appropriate opportunity to reflect upon their role and that of the Council prior to the commencement of proceedings”.

The House has yet to vote on the recommendation but submissions to the committee suggest that the vote will endorse the “minor changes” proposed. One of the submissions simply scrawled ‘No’ on the letter sent inviting his views, but others were much more considered. Several cited the view that ‘man’ refers to ‘mankind’ rather than any exclusion of women and that the inclusion of Her Majesty is justified as long as Australia retains the Monarch as Head of State.

I was reminded of the time many years ago when I returned from darkest Africa to a UK just emerging into the new dawn of political correctness. I was much amused by a classified advertisement from a construction company which sought a building site labourer – “must be prepared to work shirtless.”

Len Horne in the Old Codgers’ Corner

Photo courtesy of WA Parliament

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