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Jesuit defends Abbott impartiality


Fr Michael Kelly, who is on a committee convened by Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott to prepare a national HIV/AIDS draft strategy, has contradicted claims that moral views inspired by the Minister's Catholic faith are unduly influencing the strategy.

This Sunday's Catholic Leader addresses claims published in The Age on Monday that Government sexual health advisers are unhappy that Health Department bureaucrats changed the draft strategy, written by an HIV/AIDS advisory committee, to include recommendations on teenage sexual abstinence.

The newspaper quoted one source suggesting department officials appeared to have changed the draft to reflect views that Mr Abbott (pictured) would want, and another source claiming Mr Abbott's office had intervened directly.

A spokeswoman for Mr Abbott said the strategy would "cover a range of measures including education and different types of behaviour, but it is really a matter for the committee to consider and prepare".

Fr Kelly said he had not read all the documentation of the draft because there was still two weeks before the committee's next meeting.

Seeking to put the committee's work in perspective, Fr Kelly said there has been relative neglect in Australia of other sexually transmitted infections besides HIV/AIDS, diseases such as hepatitis C among drug users and chlamydia, which can cause infertility in women.

Fr Kelly - who is CEO of Church Resources, publisher of CathNews - had to defend his own membership of the committee, following his appointment last year. He make it clear that he would be making decisions on the basis of "common sense, the facts, the available money and the opportunities for proper and responsible public health behaviours".

SOURCE
AIDS strategy 'not skewed' (Catholic Leader 6/3/05)

ARCHIVE
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Abbott backs new anti-abortion lobby (CathNews 1/2/05)
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Liberals
say Abbott will pay for commitment to faith before politics (CathNews 8/11/04)




4 Mar 2005