Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources





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".

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

Abbott accused of pushing teenage sexual abstinence (CathNews 28/2/05)
Jesuit defends Catholic voice on AIDS subcommittee (CathNews 5/3/04)
Overjoyed Abbott pleads case for adoption (CathNews 22/2/05)
Abbott backs new anti-abortion lobby (CathNews 1/2/05)
Meeting of Bishops' taskforce on pastoral responses to abortion (CathNews 24/12/04)
Bishops propose abortion alternatives (CathNews 26/11/04)
Persecution today for 'mad monk' Abbott (CathNews 10/12/04)
Melbourne Archbishop welcomes abortion debate (CathNews 10/11/04)
say Abbott will pay for commitment to faith before politics (CathNews 8/11/04)

4 Mar 2005