By state political reporter Richard Willingham
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged opening Parliament with a multi-faith ceremony instead of the Lord’s Prayer.
Religions observed by state MPs include Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism.
At the start of every day, the Speaker and President lead the Lord’s Prayer in the Upper House and Lower House.
Greens MPs wait outside for the prayer to finish before taking their seats and have long advocated for change.
Crossbench Reason Party MP Fiona Patten has also been calling for change, saying the Acknowledgement of Country should open parliament every day.
Ms Patten’s renewed push this week comes as she faces pressure over her support for the Government’s extension of tolls on CityLink by 10 years.
On Wednesday, the State Government referred the Lord’s Prayer to the procedures committee for review.
“This is a secular society and most religious people I speak to are surprised to find out that this is how we start every day here,” Ms Patten said.
“Removing the Lord’s Prayer is a nod to how diverse the Victorian Parliament is.”
“The Government has agreed to look at how we can change the way we run the parliament and do something different to the Lord’s Prayer that reflects the diversity of the community we’re here to represent.”
Lord’s Prayer recited for a century
The Premier said he was open to the idea if it had widespread support and would be welcoming of other religions.
“If it were a multi-faith moment if you like, at the beginning of the parliament day, perhaps that would be more reflective of what modern Victoria looks like,” Mr Andrews said.
But the Premier said it was also important to conserve some traditions.
State Parliament has opened each sitting day with the Lord’s Prayer for the past 100 years, but in recent years has also included an acknowledgement of traditional owners, which Liberal MP Bernie Finn has refused to stand for.
The Opposition does not support any change, Upper House Liberal leader David Davis said.
“It’s a very important part of our history, it’s a very important reflection of the Judeo-Christian tradition,” he said.
Labor’s Philip Dalidakis, who is Jewish, is among the MPs who support scrapping the prayer from the Parliament.
“I believe in the separation of church and state,” he said.
“I opposed using public school-time for religious instruction and don’t believe there is a place for organised religion in our parliament.
“People can pray in their own time,” he told the ABC.
Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz, a Catholic, said there were many religions in the parliament.
“If we need to share other prayers and recognise other religions or other traditions I am more than happy to consider that,” she said.