Victorian Attorney-General stands by commitment to replace parliament’s prayer rituals

Si Gladman / 08 March 2023

Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes has re-affirmed the Andrews government’s commitment to developing a replacement for the Lord’s Prayer as part of the parliament’s formal proceedings.

In an answer to a question in the Legislative Council yesterday, Ms Symes said she stood by the commitment given in 2021 that a re-elected Labor government would workshop a new model that would be “purpose-built” for Victoria.

Cannabis Victoria MLC David Ettershank asked the Attorney-General whether the workshopping had occurred yet and what the timeline would be for producing a replacement model.

“Indeed it was a commitment that I gave in the last government to workshop potential replacements for the Lord’s prayer. We know that it is a vastly different chamber and a vastly different community from a hundred years ago, when the Lord’s Prayer was established,” said Ms Symes, according to Hansard.

“I reiterate that commitment. It is something that has been raised with me from a number of members in this chamber from a variety of parties. I think it is not a matter for the government; it is not a matter for the executive. It is a matter for this chamber and a matter for the other chamber.

“I concur that consistency is appropriate, and I am sure many people in this chamber would have a view. I am certainly happy to collate that and come up with a proposal following those discussions and discussions across the way. It is a commitment that is not yet met, so I stand by that commitment.” 

In a follow-up question, Mr Ettershank argued that reciting the Lord’s Prayer before the Acknowledgement of Country was “rather arse about” and asked whether the consultative process would consider the ordering.

Ms Symes said re-ordering the proceedings to open with an Acknowledgement of Country would be “worthy of conversation”.

The Rationalist Society of Australia has urged the re-elected Victorian government to deliver on its promise to replace daily Christian prayer rituals in parliament with a new model that would better reflect the state’s diversity.

In a letter to Premier Daniel Andrews and the Attorney-General late last year, RSA president Meredith Doig said the government should introduce secular and more inclusive opening rituals in both houses of the state parliament.

Since then, 21 Victorian councillors have signed a joint letter asking the state government to address the issue of prayer recitals as part of council meetings.

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Image: Jaclyn Symes (Facebook)

All the more reason.