Sharia Law or Australian Law?

We know what the law says about religious freedom in the home of Islam because the US State Department has helpfully produced a report called the 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom.

And it has devoted an entire section to Saudi Arabia.

And I’ve gone to the trouble of reading it.

And the most important bit is this:

“Freedom of religion is neither recognized nor protected under the law and is severely restricted in practice…The public practice of any religion other than Islam is prohibited.”

Of course, when the Saudis use the word prohibited, they mean it. So they have set up a body called the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Its job is to go around enforcing Sharia law. And ensuring that the only people allowed to publicly perform marriages between bearded old men and 12 year old girls are state-sanctioned imams.

Presumably, part of their daily duties is also to lock up, kill, behead and then torture to death anyone stupid enough to dress up as a piggy in the Land of the Two Holy Mosques. I just point this out because some people have still not got a handle on the finer aspects of Sharia law. But I’m sure they’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

Bendigo Bank: It’s doing Sharia wrong.

Other than that, the US State Department’s report is a dry read.

This headline is rather more sensational: Saudi keeps ban on churches. It was printed in Victoria’s Herald Sun just under a year ago.

And, more than likely, the Equity and Diversity Bureau within the Local Community Secretariat of the Human Services Division of the Bendigo Bank printed that story out, highlighted the important bits and then faxed it to every branch manager as the new public engagement policy.

That can be the only explanation for the unAustralian decision taken by Bendigo Bank to operate an account for an Islamic group seeking to build a mosque in Bendigo while closing down the account of the local community group opposing the application.

Unfortunately for the Bendigo Bank branch in the hometown of this famous Australian financial institution, Sharia law is not the law of the land.

However, it’s clear that Bendigo Bank’s legal eagles and religious diversity commandos spend too much time boning up on the latest fatwas issued in Saudi Arabia about Sharia finance to understand this. As a result, they don’t have the slightest skerrick of a clue about the law that does apply here. So I’ll help clear up the confusion.

Commonwealth and Victorian law applies. That’s right. Dinky-di, true-blue Aussie law rules supreme on this continent, including in the township of Bendigo. That’s why such a kerfuffle was made about Ned Kelly’s antics in regional Victoria in the 19th century and the same principles apply today.

Australians aren’t too partial to bearded thugs lobbing into town and imposing their own legal systems. Although Ned Kelly is regarded as a bit of a top bloke. He’s probably the exception that proves the rule.

Just to highlight how wrong Bendigo Bank is on all of its pro-Sharia and pro-mosque predilections, I’ll quote from the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010. And to be extra helpful, Bendigo Bank’s legal team can find this part starting at the bottom of page 49.

Division 4—Discrimination in the provision of goods and services and disposal of land

44 Discrimination in the provision of goods and services

(1)    A person must not discriminate against another person—

(a)   by refusing to provide goods or services to the other person; or

(b)   in the terms on which goods or services are provided to the other person; or

(c)    by subjecting the other person to any other detriment in connection with the provision of goods or services to him or her.

(2)    Subsection (1) applies whether or not the goods or services are provided for payment.

Just for the benefit of Bendigo Bank, on page 14 of the same law it also states that ‘services’ includes ‘banking services’. That’s a gotcha moment, if ever there was one.

Furthermore, the same law also states on page 18 at subsection k that political beliefs are protected from discrimination. I believe that the correct legal terminology is that political beliefs are the kth attribute of Part 2, Section 6. And when that law was given final approval, it was signed by His Excellency the Honourable Professor David de Kretser, AC. Again, just to clear up any confusion, Professor Kretser gave royal assent on behalf of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, not King Abdullah, the dude who reigns supreme in Saudi Arabia.

Anyway, you can see ‘political beliefs’ right there on page 18, all proud in their protected legal status, nestled between physical features and pregnancy.

So if Bendigo Bank was to tell the ‘Stop the Mosque’ group that they can’t keep their bank account on account of their physical features (which, just out of interest, you can see because they don’t wear burkas during the weekly bank run) it would be unlawful discrimination. Or if Bendigo Bank was to say that pregnancy status was to affect account status, it would also not be halal.

But for some reason Bendigo Bank is stupid enough to think that it can shut down the financial operations of ‘Stop the Mosque’ because of its political beliefs. These are pretty straightforward: opposition to the proposal to build a mosque in Bendigo. You can’t get a more grassroots political stoush than a local community bunfight over a development application.

This is not painting a rosy picture of a good corporate citizen. In fact, it sounds more like ‘gotcha agin’.

It doesn’t matter that this application is for a mosque. Mosques are not protected species in Australia. Last time I checked, they still needed to jump through all the hoops that applied to other development applications. And like any other mosque proposal in Australia, there are a bazillion good reasons to oppose it.

A good place to start is with the Victorian Local Government Charter, which is part of the Local Government Act 1989. It states that the purpose of councils is to provide for the peace, order and good government of the local municipality. I’m not sure how approving an application for a building that will be used by adherents of the world’s most dangerous ideological belief fits in with this. But if the fact that Islam is a violent religion doesn’t cut it, then the parking considerations and impact on local amenities are a worthwhile basis for objection as well.

Local residents are entitled to jump up and down as much as they like to campaign against this proposed mosque. And to do that, a bank account is required.

Bendigo Bank has given one to the Islamic community. And now it has taken one away from the concerned citizens. All, supposedly, in the name of values. That’s not really the truth though. It’s because Bendigo Bank has lost its Australian values and adopted those that are more at home in Saudi Arabia.

This is an open and shut case of political discrimination. It’s also proof that Bendigo Bank is ignoring Australian rule and imposing decisions that fit nicely with a different kind: Sharia law.

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of nine children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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  1. Quote: Sovereignty is for Allah, not the “law of the land”, that cannot prohibit what Allah permits, or allow what Allah prohibits.[from Hizb ut-Tahrir web site]

    Question is, who knows what Allah ever said or says? Even its existence is highly questionable!
    but this is where sharia erupted from….the minds of violent mad men who claimed to know..

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  2. I’m not against mosques or religious freedom. I think people should be able to practice their beliefs in any chosen building that accompanies their belief. I do, however, disagree with any religious practice that encourages actual violence to those who don’t share that same belief. It’s madness ANYONE would think Sharia Law is a good thing. It’s so primitive and seems out of place for Islam religion. (I say that having read the Quran out of curiosity to get my own info on what Islam is really about instead of my understanding of it being based on baseless, biased hate. I’m Christian, myself.) Anyways, again, any religious practice that encourages violence toward others should not be valued. Does this mean that anyone who practices Islam practices Sharia Law? Not at all. Let people peacefully practice peace, even if people don’t agree with their religious beliefs. Did bendigo outwardly express they supported Sharia Law? It would be the only reason I could see for shaming them.

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  3. Take your money out of Bendigo Bank. Re-finance. And let Bendigo Bank know why.

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  4. Email I just sent to Bendigo Bank
    Dear Sir/Ma’am
    With dismay I read of your unlawful and Immoral decision to close the account of and cease and dealings with the Bendigo community group “Stop the Mosque”.
    I have now reached the point where my level of disgust with your actions in this matter have made it necessary for me to find your Email address and send this email.
    However my level of disgust could reach the point whereby I will commence a letter writing campaign to the Banking Regulator as to your fitness to operate as a bank. The main reason being your arrant willingness to act outside of the Law and common sense

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  5. l find it ironically amusing that whilst Bendigo Bank shuts down the bank accounts of a group opposed to an Islamic Mosque, they are quite happy for a pig mascot to wear a Bendigo Bank shirt???

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    • I’m predicting that Bendigo Bank will ditch the pig mascot before too long…

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  6. A very well written article,you are to be commended.I have a massive problem however with the comments by Rory Donellan.I personally find all religion and dark ages belief systems repulsive(I realise that Islam is not a religion) I have grave concerns about the history of religion and the effect it is having on society.I feel that the Catholic Priests who abused young men and then denied it and to have that denial supported by the heads of the Church is despicable.For that reason l feel that the people have the right to criticize religion but other religions do not have the right to do so while defending their own beliefs.

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    • Those priests deserve to feel the full force of the law just like any one else who abuses kids, but the fact is the bible nor the catholic faith teach or condone the abuse to children. It’s similar to say, if a child care worker with all the necessary qualifications is found guilty of child abuse, do we blame the organisation who hired them? Sure there needs to be better systems in place to prevent these situations but at the end of the day these are sick and twisted people using a church/religion as a front to disguise their sick and twisted actions. I don’t see the religion it’s self being responsible instead I think the responsibility lay with the church it’s self to prevent this happening in the future.
      As for Islam? Well that a completely different story.
      Just my perspective on that issue 😉

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  7. What do others think? To be clear: is it okay for a Catholic owner of a Bread and Breakfast to refuse a bed to a gay couple?

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    • I think you posting on the wrong article mate. This arcticle addresses an Australian communities concern regarding a worshiping ground for a violent ideology which has no regard for Australian law, in their own neighbourhood and how they are being discriminated against. Nothing to do with gay couples.

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      • Bernard answers the question: “Is it okay for Bendigo Bank to refuse the ‘Stop the Mosque’ group’s money?” with “no” (on the basis of discrimination). To be consistent, he must also answer “no” to “Is it okay for a Catholic owner of a Bread and Breakfast to refuse a bed to a gay couple?” If Bernard answers the two questions differently, I’d like to know the point of difference.

      • In that case I can’t speak on Bernard’s behave however id like to know, do you believe the bendigo banks actions are justified?

      • Fletch, I am in two minds. As the carer of someone who is staunchly Catholic, I know how genuinely they hold their beliefs. But, ultimately, I believe we’d have a much better world if there were no discrimination, in either case. So, on balance, I think it is wrong for Bendigo Bank to refuse service to anyone, just as it would be wrong for someone to deny a gay couple a roof for the night.

      • I thought briefly of joining this bunfight on the side of a man and woman marriage only, history shows us that anything else led to the dissolution of the society concerned. However faced with a choice of having a having this discussion or not and thereby avoid wasting my time I chose not to get involved. You cannot beat a ridiculous premise with a reasoned argument. Same sex marriage if the former in that statement

  8. Also, refusing to permit your son or daughter to engage in a mixed marriage with a protestant heretic is not unjust discrimination – it’s the wisdom of the Church!

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  9. Not all discrimination is unjust discrimination. Preferring a practising Catholic teacher for your children over a protestant or sodomite is not unjust discrimination.

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  10. Freedom of religion is not an absolute right. We all have a duty to worship God in His One, True Church – the Catholic Church. False religions can be tolerated as long as they don’t disturb the public peace.

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  11. “Dinky-di, true-blue Aussie law rules supreme on this continent”. Excellent. So you’re happy to follow the 2 recent unanimous High Court decisions that 1. “marriage” can include same-sex marriage; and 2. some people are born neither male nor female.

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    • Troy – marriage cannot include same-sex marriage until legislation permits that. The High Court’s view on same-sex marriage was just a view, expressed in a case in which the High Court struck down the ACT law that allowed same-sex marriage. You do realise, Troy, that the High Court tossed the ACT law permitting same-sex marriage into the garbage bin, don’t you? That High Court decision really was LAW. The Court’s views on same sex marriage were merely obiter, and do not make same-sex marriage lawful. If same-sex proponents had the guts, they would seek a national referendum on the issue. But they won’t do that – will they? That’s because they know the Australian public would comprehensively vote down that referendum in absolutely emphatic terms. Which is why the same-sex lobby now runs away in horror whenever a referendum is suggested and instead seeks to bully MPs into voting it in. Now get back on subject here, Troy, and tell us all again why Mohammed was not a paedophile for having sex with a nine-year-old girl.

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      • Jim: a referendum changes the Constitution. It requires more than a simple majority. Yet a referendum is not required because the High Court has unanimously found that “marriage” in the Constitution is wide enough to encompass same-sex marriage. The High Court has said: “When used in s 51(xxi), ‘marriage’ is a term which includes a marriage between persons of the same sex” (see The ACT law was indeed found invalid BECAUSE it was inconsistent with the Commonwealth’s law (if “marriage” was confined to only “one-man, one-woman marriage” then the ACT law would not be inconsistent). Even the Commonwealth agreed that “marriage” includes “same-sex marriage”. I got my law degree, and the Prize for Commonwealth Constitutional Law, at the ANU. Where did you get your law degree?

      • Troy – there is nothing more pathetic than a legal flob-knob waving his degree about in order to attract attention and provide his fragile self with flimsy reassurance – particularly when it comes from a place such as ANU, where all the best comrades, trendoids and other associated basket-weavers congregate like so much intellectual flotsam and jetsam bobbing about in the Molonglo. Do you cuddle your constitutional law prize every night as you drift off to sleep in lawyer la-la land? Let me say this to you s l o w l y – obiter is obiter and nothing more – you do understand that, don’t you? Go and look up the definition of that term in your legal dictionary, sonny boy. Same-sex marriage is not legal until a parliamentary law is passed that makes it legal – as any first-year law student can tell you. And if the question of same-sex marriage is ever put to the Australian people in a referendum to see what the public thinks – it never will become legal, will it? That’s why same-sex zealots run in horror whenever a referendum on the issue is suggested. Now get back to the issue of this blog, mate, which is islam – tell me again why the paedophile Mohammed is such a great bloke – I’m all ears.

      • Jim: you’re not listening. A referendum under s128 fills a gap in constitutional power. There is no constitutional gap to fill. The High Court has made it clear (ratio, not obiter) that the federal Parliament has the constitutional power because ‘marriage’ in the Constitution is not the same as Christian marriage. That is the law of the land whether you like it or not.

      • Both the marriage definition in federal law and Christian marriage agrees that marriage is between a man and a woman.

      • Brian: the federal law only included the “one man, one woman” definition since 2004. It’s true that the governments have limited “marriage” to that narrow definition. However, the High Court has unanimously and unambiguously stated that “marriage” in our Constitution is different from Christian marriage. Thus, there is no constitutional impediment to the federal Parliament legislating with respect to same-sex marriage.

      • Troy: you’re not listening. The views expressed by the High Court do NOT make same-sex marriages legal – do they? If you and your very best buddy swish into the premises of the marriage celebrant of your choice in order to get married – that won’t happen, will it? Why? Because it is not lawful for one Consty Law dude to marry another Consty Law dude, no matter how much they might splutter with rage and point with angry, accusatory, trembling fingers to the words of the High Court in the ACT case. The High Court’s obiter comments don’t mean a thing – they do NOT change statute law – do they? And Troy – the whole point about a referendum is this: if you want to bring on a change as significant as radically altering the basic rules of one of the principal foundations of society (ie marriage), then you’d best get permission from the Australian people first – at a referendum. If you can’t gain that national consent, you are trying to foist upon us all something that is not wanted. Which the same-sex zealots fully understand – because they run shrieking in horrified panic whenever a referendum on same sex marriage is suggested. You understanding all of this, my dear fellow? Now, Troy – how about you get back on track and tell us all again about how great islam is, there’s a good junior solicitor.

      • Jim: you are correct when you say the High Court has not altered statute law. Instead, it has clarified something even more fundamental: the constitutional meaning of “marriage”, which, it has said clearly, is not the same as Christian marriage. This interpretation of “marriage” in the Constitution was not a comment made “by the way” (ie obiter). Rather, it was essential to the court’s decision (ratio). You confuse a “referendum”, which has a specific constitutional meaning, with a plebiscite. So your question really is: why shouldn’t we have a plebiscite on same-sex marriage? There are several reasons. First, a plebiscite is not binding. So, even if a majority of Australians supported same-sex marriage, Tony Abbott (for example) could ignore the wish of the people. Conversely, if a majority of Australians didn’t support same-sex marriage, the government could implement it anyway. It’s a waste of time and money. Second, I can point to at least 3 public opinion polls that show a clear majority of people support same-sex marriage. A plebiscite is just one big opinion poll. I don’t know where you get your confidence from that a majority of people oppose same-sex marriage. Third, imagine the advertising that groups like the ACL would do? Opponents of same-sex marriage with their vicious, ill-informed, and often vile messages could cause enormous harm to the well-being of young gay men and women, in particular. This is more than theoretical. Demonisation, marginalisation, and discrimination harms people’s lives. Fourth, you are suggesting placing the rights of a minority into the hands of the majority. This is not how minority rights are protected. Fifth, we exercise our democratic will at elections. We vote for Parliamentarians who represent our views. That is the biggest plebiscite of all.

      • Matrimony is a Sacrament over which God’s Church – the Catholic Church has the first and final word – regardless of any contrary pseudo-laws from corrupt courts.

      • Rory: your view that Catholic law somehow trumps secular law is the exact same view that Bernard rejects we he says we follow dinky-dy Australian law, not Sharia law.

      • As previously stated, one of the first steps to the rehabilitation of every pagan savage is the realisation that not all religions are equal. Australian law may trump sharia law, but no-one trumps God’s laws or the laws of the Church He founded for our salvation.
        If you have issue with God’s laws, I suggest you speak to God. If He doesn’t respond, you may try speaking to His most blessed mother like this – Ave Maria gratia plena, Dominus tecum…

      • “If same-sex proponents had the guts, they would seek a national referendum on the issue. But they won’t do that – will they? That’s because they know the Australian public would comprehensively vote down that referendum in absolutely emphatic terms. Which is why the same-sex lobby now runs away in horror whenever a referendum is suggested and instead seeks to bully MPs into voting it in.”

        Hypocrites they are. All the time they trumpet the message that polls show that most Australians support the creation of a legal fiction, which is what same sex ‘marriage’ would be, and use that to brow beat the politicians into legislating for it. But when it was suggested by Tony Windsor before the last election that a plebiscite be conducted on the question every single gay spokesperson such as Sen. Wong and Rodney Croombe came out against the idea. They know it their claim of majority support is fiction and do not want it put to the test. Some honesty would be appreciated.

    • Good to see young Troy the legal dude back-peddling in overdrive! So the views of the High Court case as to same-sex marriages do NOT mean that same-sex marriages are legal – good! We are all agreed on that, then. And they never will be legal, until statute law changes. Troy – the simple fact is this: in Australia, if you want to introduce a change as big as that which you so enthusiastically applaud and promote, it should only be done AFTER the Australian people have been consulted. And you know full well, given the history of referenda and plebiscites in this country, that the Australian people are odds-on to reject such a proposal – aren’t they? I note you bravely state that you believe otherwise, and point to a variety of opinion polls you say prove that the majority of Australians are in favour of same-sex marriage. My advice to you, young Troy, is to take it to the people if that is really what you believe. Suck it and see! Go on – have some guts and give it a go! I dare you! But you don’t really believe that, do you? And you won’t take it to the people because you know you haven’t got a snowball’s chance in hell – eh, matey? And so you and your grubby mates in favour of same-sex marriage – the ones who attend the Gay Mardi Gras every year with their backsides waving about in the rain – do everything you can to avoid a public vote on the issue and continue to do everything you can to force the issue through the bullying of parliamentarians to force statutory reform. Well, mate, you’ve got a fight on your hands and you will not succeed. If you and your boyfriend want to embrace personal extinction as you embrace each other – that’s your business. But you have no right to demand the trappings of the institution of marriage when, like the great majority of homosexual “couples” (or triples, or quadruples), you cannot have children and have no interest in having children – which is what marriage is all about. Paul Keating was right: “Two poofs with moustaches and a spaniel do not make a family”. Get used to it, Troy, and face this undeniable fact: the vast majority of homosexuals remove themselves from the human gene pool because they have no interest in having kids and their predilection to sodomy means they never will have children. Their attachment to homosexuality guarantees their very own, personal extinction. The ultimate “own goal”, one might observe. Now – how about some of your lawyerly wisdom on islam, Big Mo and everything mohammedan?

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      • Jim: you say same-sex marriage “should only be done AFTER the Australian people have been consulted”. As I mentioned before, that is what elections are for. As for the history of referendums, one of the reasons for the low success rate is one needs more than just 50% of the population to agree to it. One needs a majority of voters nationwide AND a majority of voters in a majority of States. Plus, referendums change the Constitution. As I have kept saying, there is nothing to change in the Constitution. “Marriage” under the Constitution is *not* the same as Christian marriage; marriage includes same-sex marriage. I don’t know how I, or the High Court, can be any clearer.

      • Troy says that referenda are unnecessary, because the voice of the Australian people is heard at elections. If that is so, Troy, then I am pleased – at the last Federal election, the people spoke with clarity and precision, and elected a coalition that is absolutely opposed to same-sex marriage. Case closed – the people have spoken – same-sex marriage has been assigned to the garbage bin of history. You may now cease your bleating about something that Australians have overwhelmingly stated they do not want.

  12. I take it you have not read the part where City of Greater Bendigo stepped in and started sprouting about how they will not be persuaded by the Local people yes the public they refer to as a lobby group I do not quite understand why the needed to get involved little bit suspicious. And I hope that Elise Chapman a local Mp is protected as she spoke up telling them this is wrong. Its all in this link

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  13. A great article Bernard and clearly states what is common sense, but then we don’t see too much of that employed lately.

    I can not believe that Bendigo long term residents, would even consider the idea of a mosque when one of their own was brutally raped in her own bedroom by one of these peaceful islamic imports.

    The legal system is failing innocent Australian women and children, as it gives more protection to the guilty. The frustration for the AFP must be enormous when they have repeat offenders being released back into the community to strike again.

    When will Australians say enough and stop this active push to destroy the very fabric of Australian Society?

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  14. We know they are wrong. So what are we going to do about it? Suggestions.

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    • I would like to see this taken to the Victorian Equal Opportunities Commission. There are sympathetic lawyers, but action ultimately rests with the Stop the Mosque group.

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      • I agree .. we cannot have a Nazi Bank ruling its customers like this. I am willing to donate $10.00 out of my pension to support this. By the way We have just all but closed our account with Bendigo Bank and deposited the money else where. Wonder how many others have done this??

    • I think an email bombardment would be a good start. Go to the Bendigo Bank website, find their ‘contact us’ page and you’ll find phone number, mail address and email contact details. It’s a small start, but it can be done by individuals from their own desk and must have some impact. This individual will certainly give them a polite serve! And forwarding the link to this page to our contacts can’t hurt, either.

      I also note from the bank’s website that they have a ‘Bendigo Oxfam Community Investment Account’ where interest donated by depositors goes to Oxfam. While Oxfam does some good work, their BDS record is dreadful. I think it speaks volumes about where Bendigo Bank’s values lie.

      Bernard, thanks for your fantastic work. Now, if you could just put a little something together regarding Bob Carr…

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