Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Christian vote contributes powerfully to election result

Regardless of arguments for and against faith playing a role in the political process, one respected electoral analyst reports that the beliefs of both Christians and atheists strongly influenced voting patterns and results in the 2010 Federal Election.

Former Labor Senator John Black now runs Australian Development Strategies which includes a service called Elaborate, used to analyse the latest election results.

Elaborate is the name given to both the database and the analytical techniques developed by Australian Development Strategies principals during 35 years of experience in using demographic analysis, profiling and mapping.

Even in the the first paragraphs of he 45 page report, it becomes clear that the votes of Christians played a significant role in the election.

In describing the methodology for the 2010 election analysis, John Black's report says:

'Where we found more activist Christians, we found more voters swinging against Labor... The regression analysis weeds out the purely descriptive variables and uses only those variables which contribute real explaining power to the model. For example in the current election, the ALP copped an absolute caning in the regression analysis from activist Christian demographics in terms of both the vote and the swing. So the presence of an activist Christian vote in any electorate both described and explained behaviour.'

Australian Christian Voter's own research indicates that in the days after Julia Gillard became Prime Minister, thousands of people, presumably Christians, searched the internet for information about Ms Gillard's religious beliefs.

ACV to bring election comment to an end shortly

Australian Christian Voter will shortly go into recess after a three month journey covering the 2010 federal election. With more than 130 posts in that time, and more than 6,000 page impressions, it has proved a useful resource for Christian voters, and voters in general.

If as a Christian voter, you have been visiting various party and organisational sites to see how the voting of Christians affected the 2010 result, you probably have found very little information. This partly because there is not a clear result yet, and because of the general wear and tear on organisations after a gruelling campaign.

ACV will tomorrow bring you some insightful comment on the election result, including how the Christian and atheist vote affected the outcome. Stay tuned.

DLP claims Vic Senate seat as count continues

Possible DLP Senator John Madigan
The sixth and final Senate seat in Victoria is still up in the air with the Democratic Labor Party claiming the seat just ahead of Family First's Steve Fielding and Liberal Julian McGauran.

While the DLP only finished fifth on first preferences, behind Liberal, ALP, Greens and Family First, they do well with preferences from other minor parties, including, crucially, the Christian Democratic Party, who preferenced the DLP ahead of Family First.

However the ABC's Senate calculator is now showing the DLP being eliminated before Family First, with Family First not having enough votes to hold out Senator McGauran.

Despite this the DLP is virtually claiming victory on their website:

'After an extremely successful senate campaign and despite the fact that no one in the electronic or print media gave the DLP so much as a footnote, the people of Victoria have put John Madigan in the position of becoming the first DLP Senator in 35 years. Although the final figures will not be known for up to two weeks John is well placed to take the final Victorian Senate Seat.

'It is a shame that this possible DLP victory will come at the cost of Senators Julian McGauran and Steve Fielding who have given such strong and determined service on behalf of the people of Victoria.'

Mr Madigan is a blacksmith, skills that may well benefit him in the Senate.

Thousands of votes 'quarantined' by AEC in two electorates

In a federal election where the two major parties have virtually tied, the Australian Electoral Commission has announced that hundreds, and even thousands, of votes in two electorates will not be counted because they had 'not been handled in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act'.

The AEC website reports that 'legal advice has been received which means that 2,977 early votes cast for the Division of Boothby will not be included in the count' and separately, that '452 early votes cast for the Division of Flynn will not be included in the count'.

Boothby in SA was held by Liberal Andrew Southcott and his lead in the count was reduced by 339 votes because of the quarantining of votes from the Oaklands Park Early Voting Centre.

Although the AEC says this has not changed the position of candidates in terms of the two party preferred position, it has made it nail-bitingly close 50.81 to Liberal, 49.19 to Labor.

The Flynn result is not as close and less votes were involved.

The Electoral Commissioner, Ed Killesteyn said that this is a serious matter that has resulted in affected voters not having their votes counted.

Read the AEC's statements and see the electorate results.

Friday, August 27, 2010

An explanation of the state of the Senate

While the Senate election result is more clear cut than the House of Representatives, there is still some debate over who will win the final Senate seat in Victoria.

ABC election guru Antony Green says Family First will miss out, with the seat going to the Democratic Labor Party or the Coalition. However, Senator Fielding says he's still chance.

Read The Tally Room's summary here.

Fielding still flexing Senate muscle

With the new Senate not sitting until July 2011, Family First Senator Steven Fielding is planning to influence the shape of government, using his balance of power vote, regardless of whether he is re-elected as the Senate count continues.

Mr Fielding said he believed 'voters are not very happy with Labor' and along with independent Senator Nick Xenophon, can prevent Labor legislation from passing the Senate. Currently there are 37 Liberal Senators, 32 Labor, five Green plus Fielding and Xenophon. When the newly elected Senate sits from July next year, the Greens - with about nine Senators - will hold the balance of power.

Steve Fielding may block Labor rule

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do the new cross bench members carry their cross?

When Julia Gillard became Prime Minister there was massive interest from the Christian community as to whether she believed in God or carried Christian values.

Now that we have a handful of independents holding the balance of power, it will be interesting to see if their religious faith or otherwise receives the same scrutiny.

None of them have clear Christian identification in their publicity material but the rural independents would be well accustomed to visiting church events as part of country life.

At this stage, between four and six members of the House of Representatives will sit on the cross benches - that is, not on the Labor or Liberal side of the house.

They are the independents, Member for New England (NSW) Tony Windsor, Member for Lyne (NSW) Rob Oakeshott and Member for Kennedy (Qld) Bob Katter, all regional or rural electorates. Issues highlighted by these three include help for regional Australia, a departure from the two-party system of government to a more united parliament approach and

Also on the cross benches is Member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, who is a member of The Greens and his policies are those of The Greens. He highlighted gay marriage and a price on carbon as two of his priorities.

A possible fifth is Member for O'Connor (WA) Tony Crook who ran as a National but is reported as saying he will sit on the cross benches as an 'independent WA National'. He is staunchly anti-mining tax and ETS.

And a likely sixth member is independent Andrew Wilkie who appears to have won the seat of Denison in Tasmania. He is contacting independent Senator Nick Xenophon for advice and one of Wilkie's key issues is to combat the spread of poker machines.

Family First increases vote, Fielding still in race


Family First's Senator Steve Fielding is still in the race for the sixth senate seat in Victoria, despite widespread reports (including a reference on ACV) that he had lost his seat.

According to Family First Victoria, 'Contrary to reports in much of the media, Family First has not been swept out of the Senate by the “greenslide” – at the very least it is going to be a very close count. While the Greens have definitely won the fifth Senate spot, the final spot is coming down to a photo finish between ourselves, the DLP, and the Liberals.'

Family First is also reporting a 30 per cent increase in its vote across Australia.

Read Family First's election report.

CDP summary describes vote as 'encouraging'

The Christian Democrtic Party NSW Senate results are 'very encouraging', according to a summary on the CDP website.

The CDP received 82,560 votes in the 2007 Senate Election and preliminary results indicate that the CDP vote will increase by 3-4000 votes in 2010, still not enough to win a seat.

Read the full NSW CDP summary.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Barnaby might regret tangling with Windsor before election

National Senator Barnaby Joyce touched on the issue of a hung parliament in an open letter to Independent MP, Tony Windson, published in the Northern Daily Leader, Tamworth.

Implying that Mr Windsor didn't bother to turn up at parliament to participate in votes, Senator Joyce may now regret his open attack on Mr Windsor.

The letter gives an insight into the animosity between Mr Windsor, Qld Independent Bob Katter and the Nationals:

'An open letter to Tony Windsor MP

03 Jun, 2010 04:00 AM

I have read The Northern Daily Leader for many years and have always found it a fair and balanced paper. So I am sorry that The Leader has been accused of political bias (“MP accuses The Leader of political bias”, 1/6/10) from the local federal member, Tony Windsor, for simply expressing a different view.

Rural Australia front and centre in hung parliament

After years of battling drought, high living costs, reduced services and being generally ignored by government, rural Australia may well see its needs come to the fore in a big way.

Three key independents, all from regional Australia, hold the key to the next government, along with the new Green member for Melbourne Adam Bandt. Another independent in Tasmania and an 'independent National' in Western Australia, could also be in the mix.

The independents set to hold the balance of power

Family First's Fielding loses Senate seat

The ABC's election analyst Antony Green says Victorian Family First Senator Steve Fielding has lost his place in the Upper House.

He says the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate, with new senators elected in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.

The Greens had been widely tipped to increase their Senate numbers to take the balance of power.

Senator Fielding was elected to the Senate with the help of Labor preferences in 2004 but is almost certain to be replaced by Greens candidate Richard Di Natale.

Read the full Seven News report.

While we're hanging around, what's up in the Senate.

With the news focus firmly on the probability that Australia will have a hung parliament, what is happening for minor parties such as Family First and Christian Democratic Party in the Senate.

According to the latest figures from the Australian Electoral Commission, South Australian Family First candidate Bob Day is still in with the slimmest of chances of winning the sixth Senate seat.

Family First SA has 32,323 votes or .285 of a quota. However the Greens have .93 of a quota, Liberals 2.57 quotas and Labor  2.72 quotas. Which means only four of six seats are definitely decided and the final two will depend on the completion of counting and, possibly, the flow of preferences.

Family First can expect to rise on the preferences of some other minor parties but it is a slim chance indeed that they would get ahead of either Liberal, Labor or Green for the sixth senate seat. But it's not impossible and it certainly a night for the unlikely.

In WA's Seante race, the CDP polled 10,973 votes but were behind the Australian Sex Party with more than 13,000 votes. Most of the sex party preferences will flow to the Greens and there is not enough votes among other minor parties preferencing CDP to see them reach a quota.

In NSW the CDP polled about 60,000 votes, putting them ahead of the Australian Sex Party but behind the Shooters and Fishers Party. family First polled 27,706 in their first serious Senate attempt in NSW.

It will be interesting to see if the preferencing decisions of CDP and Family First affect their success in the election. Both preferenced Liberal before each other.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Adam Spencer's election update at the Swan's game...

Electoral commission offers Virtual Tally Room

If you don't plan to watch the wall-to-wall television coverage of the election results tonight, you may prefer to follow along online.

The Australian Electoral Commission has a comprehensive online Virtual Tally Room which means you can keep up to date with overall results or even follow a candidate or electorate, where ever you have internet connection.

Such as at the Swans v Bulldogs game at the SCG!

Check out the Virtual Tally Room

Good advice for last minute voters

Still to head up the street to cast your vote? In these final hours, here's a little last minute assistance:

Find your closest polling booth
Work out how to vote in the Senate
ACV's election summary
Last minute values checklist
Catering for an election night party
Election night coverage on TV
Something completely different

When I voted with my family today, the familiar aroma of a barbecue was the first sign of a polling venue, followed by the ubiquitous posters, leaflets and passionate (or bored) volunteers.

My polling booth was wet - dripping with water - tears or signs of a whitewash? I moved to a drier location, numbering all 84 preferences and taking about 10 minutes to do it!

So join the fun, and get out there and vote - polling places close at 6pm!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Double hung parliament a real possibility

As Australian's go to bed on election night, they might find they wake up Sunday morning, not with a hang over, but a double hung parliament.

Most opinion polls now have the two-party preferred vote as 50-50 with Labor's primary vote of about 36 per cent boosted by a large flow of Green preferences.

There are already three independents in the House of Representatives, Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott, who all stand a good chance of being re-elected while the Greens may win won inner city seat.

As the three current independents are either former Nationals or holding seats formerly held by the Nationals, the Coalition may have first chance of negotiating a government, however all three are in favour of Labor's national broadband plan and so this is far from clear cut.

Tony Windsor said that in the event of a hung parliament, the cross bench members would get together to work out how to proceed. Which party had the most seats and the best deal for regional Australia would be factors.

An interesting sidelight is that in the inner city seats of Melbourne, Sydney and Grandlyer, the Liberals have preferenced the Greens on their how vote card which might mean a Green candidate gets elected. They would be much less likely to deal with the Coalition.

In the Senate, unless the Coalitions picks up seats or one of the other minor parties pull of a miracle, the Greens will hold the balance of power. This means a slightly right leaning cross bench in the lower house and a left leaning Senate.

Read more hung parliament analysis:

They deserve a hung parliament: MP
'Double hung' parliament on cards
Greens prefer Labor in a hung parliament
Markets dread a hung parliament

Family First answers environment questions

Family First's lead Senate candidate in NSW Greg Swane has responded today to questions about his party's environment policy.

Mr Swane said Family First is committed to tackling issues such as climate change, deforestation and marine sanctuaries as well working to achieving a fair and equable approach to the 'carbon tax issue'.

He said his major concern and focus was how the implementation and size of any carbon tax would affect the Australian family’s ability to survive financially.

'I want to comment on the alarmist focus of The Greens that implies that the environment is collapsing,' Mr Swane said in a statement sent to churches and supporters.

ACL welcomes move to fight sexualisation of children

The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed moves by ACT Greens Party Convener, Meredith Hunter, to introduce a voluntary code of conduct for retailers to help combat the sexualisation of children.

The ACT Greens have also proposed educating students on the dangers of sexualised images on young minds.

The ACL’s ACT Director Nick Jensen said he supported moves for the ACT to become a leader in the fight against the sexualisation of children and welcomed Ms Hunter’s motion calling on the ACT Government to take action on the issue.

'While Ms Hunter’s motion is welcome, it would be great to see her concern extend to Federal Green policies, where there is a push for X-rated material to be sold throughout Australia, support for girls to sell their bodies for sex in prostitution legislation, and opposition to ISP filtering measures to stop child pornography on the internet.'

'Big Australia' election talk an excuse for selfish neglect: Bishop

Election-time talk of population downsizing only excuses ongoing selfishness and neglect, according to the Bishop of Parramatta, the Most Rev Anthony Fisher. It is not beyond human compassion to find 'room at the inn' for more than the few who are here already, he continued, in an article on the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta website, titled 'Is Green Australia the new White Australia?'

Bishop Anthony said that to close the borders of Australia to all but a favoured few (with the right skills) would diminish the nation, not just economically but culturally, morally and spiritually.

'To close the borders of our homes to all but a favoured few babies is also impoverishing. Australia can allow and should support larger family sizes than the present rate of one or two children per family.

'Governments, churches, business and the community must play their part in addressing the big infrastructure shortages in the cities, as well as providing incentives for decentralisation.

'It is not beyond human wit to find ways of doing this without destroying ecosystems, running out of water or being trapped in carparks called motorways,' Bishop Anthony said.

'My point is simply: Australia – including Western Sydney where I live – is nowhere near population overload. Our problem is a lack of appropriate planning, infrastructure and services to match our population.'

Read Bishop Anthony's full article.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Abbott & Gillard Christian talks on pay TV tonight

Pay television subscribers will have the chance to view Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott’s messages to the Christian constituency tonight at 6:30pm.

The Australian Christian Channel will screen a 90 minute pre-election special featuring the ACL’s Make it Count event with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace’s recent interview with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

For those without pay television, you can watch Julia Gillard's interview at Australian Christian Voter and Tony Abbott's June 21 address at Australian Christian Lobby.

How to cast the perfect vote... and not cast the first stone

Final election comment
By Peter Hallett
Australian Christian Voter

Many voters will be hoping to cast the perfect vote on Saturday - one that represents the best policies, the best candidates and the best future for themselves and the nation.

Christians, and many other thoughtful people, are trained to be intentional and purposeful in all that they do, conscious of rights and wrongs and doing what is best in the eyes of God or their own conscience. This brings a kind of moral pressure to bear as we sift through the competing arguments from candidates and commentators alike.

Sometimes casting a vote almost becomes a battle to see who will cast the first stone - is there any among us worthy to pass judgement on the poor, political sinners scrambling exposed in the dust.

The hard, but relieving, truth is that the perfect vote does not exist, and never has because none of the parties or candidates are perfect. So if perfection is your goal, your are looking in the wrong place. I can think of Someone perfect, but He doesn't need your vote. He would appreciate a chat though...

So take the pressure off, sit back and read my summary of the various options based on years of journalism and a relentless reviewing of parties, policies and posting more than 110 articles on the election in the past two months.

Oh, and one thing I won't be doing is telling you how to vote... That's your decision.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Non-government school funding could still be in the balance

In the 2004 election, Mark Latham made the funding of non-government schools a divisive issue and if Labor had been elected, funding for private, church, Christian, Catholic and independent schools would have been hit hard.

Labor lost the 2004 election in a landslide.

Kevin Rudd, and more recently, Julia Gillard have sought to remove this division and despite pressure from unions, have maintained school funding in such a way that parents from a range of backgrounds can consider different schooling options for their children.

Despite this, there are still many policy uncertainties surrounding the funding of non-government schools and one of the biggest is the impact of The Greens holding the balance of power.

Christian Schools Australia is a peak body for community Christian schools in Australia and its Election 2010 web page provides background on many educational and election issues.

Visit the CSA Election 2010 resource.

Find a Family First candidate

Family First now has a comprehensive list of candidates available online, state by state. To find a Family First candidate in your state click below:

Family First Victoria
Family First South Australia
Family First Western Australia
Family First Queensland
Family First NSW

Meanwhile, Family First in NSW had a scare when NSW Upper House member, Gordon Moyes, collapsed outside parliament recently. He is reported to have spent three days in hospital with heart-related health issues but is now fully recovered.

Candidate links for the Christian Democratic Party were published recently on Australian Christian Voter

Making your vote count in the Senate

Wondering if there is any point voting for minor parties in the Senate? Won't the big parties or the Greens just get them regardless? Maybe not - check out this video explanation on Australian Christian Voter's Watching page.

Also on the Watching page, the latest Politics in Focus broadcast from Adventist Media

Labor matches Libs on chaplains and then some...

One of the election issues highlighted by many Christian organisations is the ongoing funding of the state school chaplaincy program, first introduced by the Howard government.

After Opposition leader Tony Abbott promised to continue funding at least until 2014, it seemed the Coalition was in front on this issue.

However Labor has matched and then risen the chaplaincy stakes by promising to not only maintain funding for existing chaplains for a further three years, but to extend the program.

Day of action leads to poverty policy movement

Micah Challenge and Make Poverty History's national day of action on August 11 has produced some positive commitments from politicians.

Supporters were asked to email  or tweet political leaders including Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, asking if they would remember the poor this election.

Specifically politicians were being asked to commit to increase Australia's international aid budget to 0.7 per cent of GDP, in line with UN millennium goal recommendations and to ask parties to appoint a Minister for International Department which would ensure greater awareness of aid issues and better targeting of funds.

The campaign received an immediate response from the Coalition with deputy leader of the Opposition, Julie Bishop, announcing that the Coalition, if elected, would appoint a Junior Minister for International Development.

And on the day of the poverty question campaign, Prime Minister Julia Gillard released a statement supporting the work of Christian organisation, Micah Challenge.

'Micah Challenge and the Make Poverty History campaign have done an outstanding job in reminding us all of how we can make a difference in the lives of people who have so much less than us.'

In the statement, Ms Gillard stopped short of announcing a minister for international development or increasing aid to 0.7 per cent but did say there would close ministerial attention to the aid budget and that 0.7 per cent would be considered in the future.

The Greens say in their international aid policy document that it is there goal that the aid budget be increased to 0.7 per cent in 2010. With the balance of the power likely to fall to them, they may well face pressure to negotiate hard on this and other issues.

All major parties have now made policy announcements - read them courtesy of Micah Challenge:
ALP aid policy statement
Coalition foreign policy statement
Greens aid policy statement

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

CDP candidate lists available

With less than a week before the federal election on Saturday, the Christian Democratic Party has posted complete lists of candidates for most states in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The CDP is urging Christians to vote for the CDP first before allocating preferences to other parties as a way of highlighting the strength of the Christian vote.

To see lists, and in some cases, profiles of CDP candidates in various states, click on the links below:

CDP NSW
CDP WA
CDP VIC
CDP SA

The other states and territories do not appear to have online lists of candidates.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Everything you need to know about voting, policies, candidates and preferences

As we enter the final week of the 2010 federal election campaign many voters are still trying to make up their mind who to vote for or even who the candidates are in their electorate or state.

And while we are being inundated with mindless campaign advertising, there are some great online resources for doing personal research.

For some voters, the main concern is to discover the policies of the various parties on the issues that matter to them, and there is a wealth of material available.

Read Peter Hallett and Australian Christian Voter's full election resources rundown exclusively in the online Sight Magazine.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Parties exploit loophole with late launches

Have you been wondering why political parties have their official campaign launch when the election campaign is nearly over. The Coalition campaign was at the start of the week and Labor's is tomorrow. Here's why:

'...a loophole in Department of Finance policy means the sizeable daily travel allowances for politicians and staffers are paid out of the public purse until the day of the respective political parties' campaign launch.

'The Liberal Party and the Nationals have been carrying their own costs for a week and will ultimately be financially responsible for nine days of the 33-day campaign.

'However, the ALP will continue to have public funding until the conclusion of tomorrow's ''official'' campaign launch in Brisbane, leaving Labor with just five days to pay for.' (SMH)

This is in addition to the $2.31 all candidates receive retrospectively if they achieve at least 4 per cent of the vote. The total campaign cost for the taxpayer is expected to exceed the 2007 record of $163 million. Not bad for five weeks of risk aversion...

Internal problems confront Greens, Family First

Two minor parties, The Greens and Family First, are experiencing the rough and tumble of federal politics this weekend, both featuring in major newspaper articles detailing their difficulties.

Family First was the subject of story in the Fairfax media headlined, 'Sex, debt and heads that roll: a Family saga of biblical proportions'. The story highlights alleged financial difficulties and organisational problems including the dumping of a Victorian candidate after he came out in support of gay marriage.

Family First dispute the financial allegations and are not the only party caught out by running a candidate who they had to disendorse. The Liberals have done this twice, in NSW and Northern Territory.

Read the full article on Family First.

Meanwhile The Greens are divided over their policy on funding for non-government schools, an issue of concern for Christians in particular as many families choose to place their children in Catholic, Anglican or Christian schools.

In an article title 'School policy fractures Greens', the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Greens leader Bob Brown believed it was no longer to remove '$1000 per student' of funding from private schools. However NSW Greens upper house member John Kaye quickly responded saying he was disappointed by the Senate team's attitude.

The dispute is the thin edge of the wedge as The Greens come to terms with the electorates response to some of their more radical policies and the pressure a uniform national preference deal with Labor will bring.

Read the full article on The Greens.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Greens could have 10 in Senate while Family First out: Morgan poll

Roy Morgan Research has released the first Senate polling for this election showing The Greens strongly increasing their vote and Family First losing its Victorian Senator although in with a chance in South Australia.

Conducted in July and involving interviews with more than 5000 participants nationwide, the poll shows: 'support for the ALP in the Senate was 40 per cent (down 0.3 per cent since the November 24, 2007 half-Senate election). Coalition support was 36 per cent (down 3.9 per cent) and Greens support 15.5 per cent (up 6.5 per cent). Support for minor parties was Family First 2.5 per cent (up 0.9per cent), One Nation 0.5per cent (up 0.1per cent), and other parties and independent candidates 5.5 per cent (down 3.3 per cent).

'On these figures the Senate composition would be ALP 33-34 Senators, LNP 31-32 Senators, Greens 10 Senators and 1 Independent, Nick Xenophon...'

In Victoria, while the Family First vote has remained the same (about 2.5 per cent), according to the Morgan poll, the decision by Labor to preference The Greens makes it nearly impossible for Senator Fielding to be elected.

However in South Australia, the Family First vote is up to 3.5 per cent and although this far from a quota, it may help Family First survive long enough to gain some preference boosts. The confusing thing in SA is that Nixk Xenophon polled 3.5 per cent even though he is not up for election this time. So once voters realise he is not there, a flow to other minor parties or independents may occur.

There are 76 members in the Senate and currently the ALP has 32, the Coalition 37, with five Greens, one Family First and one independent. To get something through, the Government needs 39 votes. For legislation to be blocked, 38 votes are needed. Half of the senate seats are up for election on August 21 - six in each states and one each in the ACT and Northern Territory.

Check out the full Senate poll results.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Disendorsed Liberal now a Senate candidate

Disendorsed former Liberal candidate for the NSW seat of Chifley, David Barker, is now running for the Senate and has attacked the Christian Democratic Party and Family First preference arrangements.

Mr Barker was disendorsed by the Liberals last month after posting anti-Muslim comments on Facebook.

Now running as a 'Christian independent', Mr Barker said the allocation of preferences by the Christian Democratic Party has increased the danger of a Greens senator being elected in NSW.

Family First candidate warns church leaders on Greens policies

NSW Family First Senate candidate Greg Swane is urging church leaders to highlight the 'threat to marriage' that would occur if The Greens gain the balance of power in the Senate.
Mr Swane said that while all three Christian-based parties as well as Liberal and Labor uphold the current Marriage Act, Tasmanian Greens Senator Christine Milne said her party would be introducing legislation to make gay marriage legal.

'I recently took part in a short debate on gay marriage (Channel 7’s Good Morning program, Friday, August 6) and you can see that I am not only a passionate defender of the family, but also not afraid to discuss contentious issues publicly in a non-emotive manner,' Mr Swane said.

'My past experience has shown that this achieves more than taking a moralistic, judgemental and confrontational approach. That approach has proved not to work in the Australian culture.'

Mr Swane also highlighted that The Greens had chosen not to answer a range of question in the recent Australian Christian Lobby survey covering family, euthanasia, abortion, chaplaincy in schools, youth unemployment, national curriculum, funding for faith-based and independent schools, marriage, parenting, sexualisation of children, internet safety, freedom of religion, religious security, and fringe benefit tax considerations for churches and faith-based charities.

'Their attitude and policies are a real threat to Australian families. Please compare and analysis our policies. The great attraction of The Greens for many has been their fight for the environment and more recently carbon tax. However their high profile views on these issues has masked their social reform agenda,' he said.

Homeless and affordable housing ignored by politicians

ACV Reader's Comment
By Brett Christensen


I am amazed at what the political parties can get away with in an election campaign. They set the agenda and key issues, rather than the voters. And voters let them, as do the media.

Homelessness barely rates a mention. The related issue of housing affordability has been noticeably absent also. Bank bashing is a more popular practice, so interest rates do get trotted out for a mention by the pollies. But banks don't set the price of houses, and interest rates (which are quite low, compared to when I first entered the market) would pose little concern for home buyers if house prices were not so high.

I have yet to hear a politician bemoan the fact that, proportionate to mean income, Australian houses are the most expensive in the world. A few lonely voices are out there calling attention to this problem, but they're not running for seats in parliament.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Will we remember the world's poor this election?

Christian social justice organistion Micah Challenge and Make Poverty History are hoping to mobilise thousands of Australians to help focus politicians attention on the needs of the world's poor during the August 21 election campaign.

On August 11, they are making resources available for thousands of people on one day to ask the same question to the politicians, 'will you remember the world's poor?'

'It seems to me that our political leaders haven't asked themselves that question this election,' said MC national coordinator, John Beckett. 'We think it's an important question. It's a life and death question for millions of people in our world!

'In fact we think it is one of the most important questions that anyone promoting themselves as the potential leader of a large and wealthy nation should be asking themselves. Since they seem to have forgotten to ask themselves this question, we're going to ask it for them,' Mr Beckett said.


He urged people to raise the poverty question in unison this Wedneday, August 11 from 9am by visiting The Poverty Question page and following directions.

Green Christian fends off anti-Christian claims

With news today that the Greens primary vote appears to be slipping, it is timely to consider a defence of the party against those that claim it is anti-Christian.

In today’s Essential Report, the Coalition has increased 3 per cent to 42 per cent, Labor has increased 1 per cent to 41 per cent and The Greens have dropped to 10 per cent%, their lowest level of support since May. The two-party preferred vote is 52-48 per cent.

Meanwhile, Greens Senate candidate for the ACT Lin Hatfield Dodd has been busily defending her party from accusations of being anti-Christian.

The Australian Christian Lobby criticised The Greens for only answering six out of 24 questions it put to all political parties on Christian issues.

Mr Wallace said the Greens' refusal to answer the majority of questions showed they were trying to hide their 'antagonism to faith'.

'I think the main thing that's come out of this is the position of the Greens. The Greens actually only answered six of 24 questions,' he said. 'Clearly they felt they couldn't answer the other 18 questions without exposing their antagonism to faith.'

The on Sunday in an opinion piece in the Sunday Telegraph, Cardinal Pell labelled the Greens 'anti-Christian' and 'sweet-camouflaged poison'.

Cardinal Pell also claimed the Greens policies are expensive and will not help poor people.

Ms Hatfield Dodds rejected ACL's criticism.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Watch Julia Gillards interview with Christian lobby

When Julie Gillard became Prime Minister it was just four days after the national Make it Count webcast in which then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition leader Tony Abbott introduced their policies and answered eight questions from church leaders.

Ms Gillard's rise to Australia's top job was greeted with a rush by voters to discover her values and beliefs and Australian Christian Voter carried numerous stories on these topics.

Now, at a time when the election result appears to be on a knife-edge, Julia Gillard agreed to follow through with a 2005 pledge to engage with the Christian community as as part of that, did an interview with the Australian Christian Lobby, answering the same eight questions as her predecessor.

Watch the video now.


Make it Count 2010 Ms Julia Gillard Questions from Australian Christian Lobby on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gillard's Christian questions video up tonight

The Australian Christian Lobby will upload footage of its interview with Prime Minister Julia Gillard to its Australia Votes website tonight.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace yesterday asked Ms Gillard the same questions asked of the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott at ACL’s June 21 Make it Count event.

Ms Gillard reaffirmed her and Labor’s commitment to marriage and support for school chaplaincy.

Off course not everyone is happy she chose to meet with the ACL.

Policy seeks to break youth welfare subculture

The high rate of youth unemployment and the welfare entrenchment of a generation has finally received some attention in the election campaign.

In an exclusive report in today's Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Hartcher writes, 'Tony Abbott wants to implement a big reform of youth welfare, where young people volunteer to give up their benefits in return for a guaranteed job.


'In declaring his intention to "break the youth welfare subculture" if elected, Mr Abbott was advancing the most ambitious idea of the election campaign so far.'

Read the full story.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Galaxy poll shows swing to Coalition in marginal seats

The latest polling has led television news reports tonight to claim the election will be decided by the religious vote based on results in marginal seats. Crikey.com.au's Poll Bludger blog has the following report:

'We learn via Channel Nine that Galaxy has conducted a poll of two marginal seats in NSW, Macarthur and Eden-Monaro, and two in Queensland, Bonner and Bowman. We are told only of a 2.8 per cent swing against Labor, which I’m guessing means a composite result of 51-49 in favour of the Coalition from the four seats in question, which collectively produced a Labor two-party vote of about 51.8 per cent in 2007. On the primary vote, Labor is said to be down six points to 39 per cent and the Coalition steady on 44 per cent.'

Nielson Poll results are expected at 10.40am tonight

Gillard to answer Make it Count questions for ACL

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has agreed to be interviewed by the Australian Christian Lobby today to add her comments to those made by Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd in the Make it Count national webcast conducted on June 21, three days before Mr Rudd was toppled as Prime Minister.

In a move perceived to be an attempt to recover ground with churchgoers, this afternoon Ms Gillard will answer the same eight questions from Make it Count, put by ACL director Jim Wallace, and the video will be posted on the Australia Votes website which was launched yesterday.

Read the full Brisbane Times story.

Gillard agrees to meet Christians?

Coinciding with media focus on the Christian vote in Queensland and the launch of Australian Christian Lobby's Australia Votes website, media reports have begun circulating that 'questions of faith are set to emerge from the shadows'.

The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday afternoon carried an AAP story that Prime Minister Julia Gillard has agreed to meet with the ACL after last night attending a fundraiser for Mary McKillop.

Watch Australian Christian Voter today for more details and read the full AAP story.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Candidate forums target marginal seats

The Australian Christian Lobby is encouraging Christian voters to attend candidate forums being held in many electorates across the nation. These are meant to be non-confrontational forums to canvass candidates views and are especially targeted at marginal seats.

Watch a short video on candidate forums.

Candidate forum events as of August 5, 2010 (electorate name in block letters):

Millions to learn of Australian voting website answering Christian concerns

By Glynis Quinlan,
Public Relations Manager
Australian Christian Lobby
 

With little more than two weeks to go until the Federal election, the Australian Christian Lobby today launched a website – promoted by a million fliers and booklets sent to churches throughout Australia – informing Christians about the different political party standpoints on key issues they care about.

The Australiavotes website provides the responses of eight political parties, including the Coalition and Labor, to 24 questions on issues of interest to Christians ranging from homelessness and foreign aid to freedom of religion and the sexualisation of children. Tellingly, the Australian Greens only answered six of the questions, choosing to avoid scrutiny on a variety of issues where their policy is unlikely to be well-received by most Christians.

'The failure of the Australian Greens to answer 18 of the 24 questions – even where they have known positions on the issue such as their support for gay marriage and removing school chaplains – can only be seen as a cynical exercise to avoid scrutiny of their more radical policy positions,' ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said.

'But as disturbing as the deception in not declaring their antagonism to faith in society, is the failure to comment on issues like youth unemployment, the funding of private schools and the sexualisation of children – all issues of concern to a broader constituency,' he said.

'This deception and narrow agenda is hardly the stuff of a legitimate third force in politics.'

Christian vote gets prime radio coverage

ABC Radio's popular AM program today gave prominence to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's atheism and the impact of this on Christian voters in marginal Queensland seats.

The interview with group of female voters who identified themselves as Christians gave an insight into the strength of feeling in Queensland, arguably Australia's most conservatively Christian state.

Listen to AM's story, Brisbane Christian's won't vote Labor.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Excellent election info for voters

As we head into the home straight for the election, there are a few good websites about that help with the mechanics of voting or with overviews of electorates.

Below the Line is a great site for helping you work out who is running for the Senate in your site and, if you choose to mark all the preferences for yourself, will help you prepare in advance.

The Tally Room is a great blog that provides profiles for every federal electorate in Australia. You can search them alphabetically and each profile includes a map, background, sitting member and last election results.

The Poll Bludger is a Crickey.com blog that provides more details on polls than you might ever imagine needing.

The Australian Electoral Commission is of course the official source of information for the federal election and you can do everything from finding a polling booth to working out how to cast a postal or pre-poll vote.

And stay tuned for Australia Votes which is not up as of today but will be a comprehensive election site provided by the Australian Christian Lobby.

Each of this links will appear permanently on Australian Christian Voter website in the right column.

Brief video report of Christian election issues

Adventists Media's latest Politics in Focus video report is available on Australian Christian Voter's Watching page. It features a brief rundown of Christian issues in the August 21 election campaign with Australian Christian Lobby managing director, Jim Wallace.

Christian voter checklist released

Australian Christian Values Institute has released its checklist for the August 21 election in which major parties are rated on their policy or statements on a range of issues.

The purpose of the checklist is to 'help the Christian community and those who are sympathetic to Christian values make a more informed choice when it comes to voting'.

According to the the Australian Christian Values Institute website, it is 'an initiative of the board of Australian Heart Ministries, a non-profit charity dedicated to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Australian Christian Values Institute has a vision to "renew the Christian vision of Australia for the common good".'

The answers appearing on the checklist from the major parties are prepared from 'party policy statements, public statements, media reports... In some cases the voting record of the parties over the past few years has also been considered'.


 
 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Aid commitment remains despite $300m cut

The Coalition has affirmed its commitment to increasing overseas aid and development to 0.5 per cent of national income by 2015 despite axing $300 million worth of foreign aid programs designed to mitigate the affects of climate change.

While the cut has been criticised by aid organisations such as Oxfam and Caritas, Opposition's Foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop claims Labor padded the aid budget with the climate funding to garner support for a UN security council seat.

'The Coalition remains committed to increasing the foreign aid budget up to 0.5 per cent of GNI by 2015. We will be changing the focus, and we will be ensuring that aid is delivered in the main in our region where it can have the most effect,' Ms Bishop said today.
 
But the head of Catholic aid organisation, Caritas is not convinced. 'Countries, like Australia, who have amassed their wealth from the production of greenhouse gasses, cannot simply walk away from their responsibility to assist, as the coalition appears to be doing,' said Caritas CEO Jack De Groot.
 
Australia's aid and development sector for has been calling on politicians to meet the UN's Millennium Goals which include a recommendation for foreign development assistance to rise to 0.7 per cent of GNI by 2015, but both the government and the opposition remain committed to 0.5 per cent.
 
Read Caritas's full media release.
 
Read Fiona Bishop's response. 

Christians should be willing to change voting patterns: Dickson

'Much has been said about the ''Christian vote'', an expression often associated with those nasty-right-wing-religious-nuts imposing their morals on a secular society', writes the Centre for Public Christianity's John Dickson in the Sydney Morning Herald.

'Given that 64 per cent of Australians call themselves Christian, according to the census, it is important to clarify what the Christian vote means.

'Christians should be willing to change voting patterns after Christian reflection on particular policies. A believer who cannot imagine voting for the ''other side'' has either determined that only one party aligns with the will of God or, more likely, is more attached to their cultural context than to the wisdom of scripture.'

Read John Dickson's full article.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Newcastle businessman leads Family First's NSW Senate ticket

Family First NSW announced this week the selection of Newcastle businessman, Greg Swane, as its lead Senate candidate.

In announcing the selection, chairman Neville Cox said Mr Swane brings with him extensive experience in small business, including retail, manufacturing and the building industry.

'Greg is passionate about social justice and is totally committed to families influencing government rather than government policy impacting on the family unit unfairly,'  a statement from Mr Cox said.

'Mr Swane attends the Salvation Army, Belmont and shares with them a heart and commitment for those who suffer from life’s injustices. Greg and his wife Julie have been married for 23 years. He has three children David, Elizabeth, Amy, and two grandchildren.

In his first media statement, Mr Swane, questioned the bland showing in the campaign so far of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott.

Call to Christian values in Canberra Declaration

The Canberra Declaration drafted by more than 20 Christian leaders and calling the nation to Christian values was was officially launched on the lawns of Parliament House on Friday, July 23, as part of the Government of God conference.

In the lead up to the August 21 federal election, The Canberra Declaration follows the 2009 Manhattan Declaration and the 2010 Westminster Declaration in declaring that when 'Christian values are respected and allowed freedom of expression, not just confined to so-called sacred spaces but in the public arena as well, society is richer and healthier'.

The Declaration emphasises three areas in contemporary Australian society - religious freedom, marriage and the family, and the sanctity of human life.

About 3000 people have so far signed the declaration which can be viewed at the Canberra Declaration website or read in full on the In Depth page of Australian Christian Voter.

Christian parties learn tough lessons

ACV Comment
Peter Hallett

There is nothing quite like the heat of an election campaign to test out both frontline candidates and the party machines behind them.

Labor and Liberal have both had their problems during this campaign with leaks, bad candidate choices and apparent contradictions between spokespersons.

At a state level, we've even had the NSW Premier and her Education minister publicly at odds over a major policy announcement.

If these major parties are having problems, with their massive infrastructure and budgets, we might expect to find smaller parties appearing a bit rough around the edges.

And so when a junior staffer of Senator Fielding, charged with establishing connection with minor parties, contacts The Australian Sex Party, has a coffee with the media savvy Fiona Patten, and thinks he or she is going to get out alive... I don't think so.

The moment contact was initiated from the Family First Senator's office, a major media story was just a matter of time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sex Party claims lead to unholy row between Family First and CDP

An unholy row has broken out between Family First and the Christian Democratic Party over claims Family First considered a preference deal with the Australian Sex Party.

As ACV reported yesterday, Sex Party candidate, Fiona Patten, told the media that Family First approached her about a preference deal. This was strenuously denied by Family First saying they would never do any kind of deal with the Australian Sex Party and any meetings conducted were more about deciding who not to preference.

But a flurry of emails began this afternoon from both parties to churches and Christian leaders after Rev Fred Nile sought to damage Family First politically by publicising the claims through a press release.

CDP takes strong stance against Gillard, Greens

The Christian Democratic Party's Rev Red Nile believes the August 21 election is the most important in Australia's history with voters facing a clear choice between 'an atheistic ALP Prime Minister' and an alternate Prime Minister who is 'strongly committed' to the Christian faith.

In his latest press release, Rev Nile describes Prime Minister Julia Gillard as 'a founding member of the pro-abortion Emily's List and is a socialist left-wing supporter of the Fabian Society'.

On the other side, Tony Abbott  is 'strongly committed to the Christian faith, Judeo-Christian moral values and our Commonwealth Constitution as are our CDP House of Representative Candidates', Rev Nile said.

Rev Nile saves his fiercest criticism for The Greens with whom the CDP will battle for influence in the Senate.

'Every voter also faces a clear choice for the federal Senate, between our CDP Senate team led by Mayor Paul Green, who will courageously stand up for our Aussie Christian family values and for one law for all Australians - no Sharia law!

'Or the radical anti-Christian, pagan, Green Party Senate candidates led by Lee Rhiannon a former member of the Stalinist Socialist Party, who actively campaigned in the Upper House for same-sex "marriage", marijuana, x-rated videos, abortion, euthanasia, etc,' Rev Nile continues.


'Your vote is urgently needed, so we can ensure the election of Paul Green and defeat the watermelon (green outside but 'red' inside) Green political party.'

The real turning point in the election?



Archbishop questions future under Gillard

Reasonably balanced comments from the Catholic Archbishop in Perth about Prime Minister Julia Gillard are being splashed across Australia's media as a damaging blow to her campaign.

One commentator said the Archbishop had 'pole-vaulted' to the centre of the election campaign with his concerns about Ms Gillard's atheism.

'While there is no indication that the present Prime Minister will undermine the special privileges that churches enjoy, some wonder what the future will bring. This may well influence their votes,' Archbishop Hickey  said, in a report from The West Australian.


'Many Christians are concerned that someone who does not believe in God may not endorse the Christian traditions of respect for human life, for the sanctity of marriage and the independence of Churches, church schools and church social welfare agencies.'

Archbishop Hickey said he would not seek to influence the way Catholics voted, he urged people with strong religious convictions to be politically active. 'Some will undoubtedly vote for Mr Abbott because they appreciate his strong Christian faith,' The West Australian reports.

Read the full story.

ACV Comment: This is hardly unexpected comment from the Catholic Church and seems to be more an acknowledgement that voters do consider beliefs and values alongside stated policies when considering how to vote. On the other hand, the Archbishop holds a position of influence and so any political reflection will be perceived as an attempt to sway voters and candidates.
 
While Julia Gillard has acknowledged her atheism, she also promised to engage in a proactive manner with Christians and churches. Opposition leader Tony Abbott, while a practicing Catholic, also told the Make it Count webcast that his faith would not influence his political life, in the sense that he would seek to govern for all Australians.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Family First denies approaching sex party for preference deal

Family First has denied claims by the Australian Sex Party that it was approached about doing a preference deal for the federal election.


A spokesman for Family First Senator Steve Fielding has confirmed a staff member met the Sex Party but also met all other parties to discuss policy and candidates for the election.

Family First federal chairman Bob Day said no preference offer was made and that raising the issue was part of a Sex Party campaign to discredit Family First.

Read the full article on ABC Online.

ABC religion editor sinks his own boat in vent against Christian lobby

By Peter Hallett
ACV editor

Religion and Ethics editor for ABC Online, Scott Stephens, brings into question the validity of his own position when he condemns the Australian Christian Lobby, saying it should not even exist. If it should not exist, then by the same logic, neither should a Religion and Ethics editor on ABC Online.

In Stephen's July 19 post, which Australian Christian Voter previously highlighted as a way to encourage engagement and debate,  he rightly says that there is no such thing as a uniform Christian vote 'given the sheer diversity of conviction, belief and moral sensibility that is represented across churches in this country'.

But he wrongly concludes that this means an organisation such as Australian Christian Lobby should not exist. The two ideas do not necessarily follow and if they did, how could the ABC justify having just one Religion and Ethics portal for such a diverse community. The argument is unsustainable.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Liberal organisational failure leads to candidate chaos

The disendorsement of a Liberal candidate for making anti-Muslim comments is a story of organisational incompetence.

David Barker became the Liberal candidate for the safe Labor seat of Chifley in Sydney's west because no other candidates could be found. He was endorsed directly by the state office rather than pre-selected by the local Liberal branch.

A Liberal party source was quoted in The Australian  as saying 'Mr Barker was a vulnerable disability pensioner' and the source was 'critical of party officials for failing to predict he would not withstand media scrutiny'.

Identifying himself as a Christian, Mr Barker's comments did not assist serious Christian engagement in the political process. 'When I get in, I will give my votes, all of them, to God who is on the side of the Liberal Right...' is just one example.

This incident has raised questions of due-diligence in candidate selection but it also points to the strain placed on party structures as they seek to run candidates across the nation.

Smaller parties, while hopefully avoiding this kind of mistake, are struggling to not only get candidates up and running but to communicate with the media and the electorate.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

ABC's online religion portal dismisses Christian vote

'The last two federal elections were deformed by the way that leading figures from both political parties blatantly fawned to that most gullible of electoral commodities: the so-called "Christian vote." But because there can be no such thing as a "Christian vote," given the sheer diversity of conviction, belief and moral sensibility that is represented across churches in this country, such a description must necessary act as code for one variety of Christianity in Australia - unfortunately, the most unengaged, uninformed, easily seduced kind.'

So writes Scott Stephens, the Religion and Ethics editor for ABC Online. Read his full article.

Worm loses debate while Gillard and Abbott even

The clear outcome of tonight's political leader's debate was that the Channel 9 worm lost, or possibly died, while Channel 7s polliegraph, showing much more liveliness, was the winner.

As viewers in lounge rooms around the nation were just beginning to ask why the blue worm was flat-lining, the worm disappeared altogether, presumably for resuscitation.

Meanwhile, both the Channel 7 and Channel 9 studio audiences gave the debate to Prime Minister Julia Gillard although Channel 9 political commentator, Laurie Oaks, disagreed with his channel's 'wormers' and said that Opposition leader Tony Abbott won.

Given that Abbott was expected to lose badly, the fact that he was a close second virtually negates any political benefit to Ms Gillard.

And what was obvious to everyone is that both leaders are trying to be small targets, avoiding controversy and sounding similar in many policy areas.

Possibly the clearest difference on the night was their gender and their hair colour.... PH

Gay Cabinet Minister supports traditional marriage view

Labor's Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, the nation’s first openly homosexual cabinet minister, told Channel 10 today that says she agrees with her party’s opposition to same-sex marriage.


‘On the issue of marriage I think the reality is there is a cultural, religious, historical view around that which we have to respect,’’ Ms Wong said.

Read the full story in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Support school chaplaincy campaign launched

The future of government-funded chaplains in public schools was a hot topic in the Make it Count webcast with Opposition leader Tony Abbott committing to three years funding from 2011 while then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said future funding was dependent on a review of the scheme.

While Mr Rudd was confident the review would support the ongoing support of school chaplaincy, and Ms Gillard is thought to have the same view, it does leave the door open for the scheme to end. Likewise, Mr Abbott's commitment does not cover funding growing with inflation which means positions could be lost.

To shore up these commitments, the National School Chaplaincy Association is calling on voters to email their Federal member during the election campaign to press home the importance of school chaplaincy.

'Now is the time to contact your local federal MP to inform them of your support of the school chaplaincy program and your wish to see it extended beyond 2011,' the campaign website says.

Australian Christian Voter on Vision Radio

Australian Christian Voter will feature in a series of interviews on Neil Johnson's Twenty20 program on Vision Radio starting from next week.

Vision is a national community radio network from a Christian perspective and Twenty20 can be heard weekdays at midday (eastern) or 10am (western) and a 'best of' highlights package also airs each weekend.

Click here to find a full listing of Vision radio frequencies 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Smaller parties race to get candidates up

Parties specifically representing Christian values are rushing to get their candidates and campaigns on track and due to smaller organisations and budgets, are a fair way behind Liberal, Labor and the Greens.

Most interest for these parties is in the Senate where in 2004 CDP leader Fred Nile went close to winning a seat in NSW and Family First's Steve Fielding was elected on the back of Labor preferences in Victoria.

The CDP have announced Shoalhaven mayor Paul Green as their lead Senate candidate in NSW and further candidates are expected to be announced across the nation shortly.

Family First have just announced Greg Swane as their lead candidate for the Senate in NSW along with Linda Rose in Western Australia and Bod Day in South Australia.

SA is Family First's strongest state and they have a small chance of winning the sixth seat in that state. Senator Fielding is likely to struggle in Victoria without another unusual preference deal while both CDP and Family First had a strong showing in WA and one or the other could go close on preferences.

Family First is relatively new in NSW with Rev Gordon Moyes becoming the first parliamentarian when he left CDP to join Family First as a sitting member in the NSW Legislative Council.

The senator positions up for election in 2010 are those who were elected in 2004, the year Mark Latham gave John Howard a resounding victory. Whereas usually the six seats are split three right, three left in each state, Barnaby Joyce stole a 'left' seat in Queensland and Steve Fielding did the same in Victoria. With Labor now in a much stronger position and the Greens polling extremely well, it is more likely that Labor and the Greens will fight over the final senate position in most states.

For an excellent breakdown of how senate results may look, read Tom Colebatch's article in The Brisbane Times

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Internet filtering briefing linked to Queensland marginal seats

The Australian newspaper has linked a briefing given to the Australian Christian Lobby before the internet filtering announcement with Labor's concerns about marginal seats in Queensland.

The article implies that the briefing, given the day before Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced a delay in implementing internet filtering, was partly motivated by the ACL's strong support base in Queensland.

A spokesperson of the minister said the briefing was part of the normal process of communicating with stakeholders while ACL chief of staff described as rubbish the suggestion the government was only interested in the filtering idea in an attempt to hold on to the Christian vote.

Read the full article in The Australian.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fielding's task harder after Green preference deal

The re-election of Family First Senator Stephen Fielding has become a much more difficult prospect following the deal today of a tight preference swap between Labor and the Greens.

Senator Fielding was elected in 2004 when a preference deal with Labor saw him clinch the sixth senate seat with about two per cent of the primary vote.

Back in 2007 he warned Kevin Rudd not to do a preference deal with the Greens because their policies were anti-family but with the removal of Rudd, and his more open engagement with Christians, the preference deal has slipped away from Family First.

Greens leaders Senator Bob Brown described the election of Senator Fielding with just two per cent of the vote as 'peverse' but also said he recommended Green voters ignore official preferences and vote beneath the line to set their own preferences.

On Q & A, Liberal deputy leader, Fiona Bishop criticised the Greens for making a deal with Labor even before their climate change policy had been released. She said it made a mockery of their commitment to environmental issues.

World Vision boss calls for bigger hearts, stronger borders

It is already clear that asylum seekers and 'stopping the boats' will be a critical element of this election. Yet the politics of asylum seekers is both deflating and confounding.

Why do asylum seekers arriving by boat cause so much alarm in some sections of the Australian community?

Read Tim Costello's full article in the Sydney Morning Herald

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Australia to vote in federal election in 35 days

Australians will vote in a federal election in 35 days from now after Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced on August 21 election today, just 23 days after she ousted Kevin Rudd from office.

It is the first winter election since 1987 and with a uniform swing of just 1.7 per cent needed for a change of government, Ms Gillard will be hoping August 21 in a fine, sunny winter's day.

A few key issues of interest to Christians or that will influence the election result are:
  • Christian voters will again have a key influence, particularly in the marginal areas of western Sydney and more generally in Queensland.
  • The Greens hold strong hopes of winning lower house seats in the inner city seats in Sydney and Melbourne and to hold the balance of power in the Senate.
  • Both Prime Minister Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott are untried as leaders in an election campaign and probably have shared the honours in the past few weeks. A distinctively good or bad campaign from either of them could decide the election, as it did when Mark Latham led Labor in 2004.
  • Family First's only federal parliamentarian, Senator Steve Fielding, has real fight on his hand to be real elected. If he loses, the seat could go the the Greens.
  • Both parties representing Christian values, Family First and Christian Democratic Party, seemed to be some way from finalising candidates, but should announce some key names shortly.
  • The CDP have their best chance in NSW or Western Australia - they just lost to the Greens the final senate seat in WA in 2007.
  • For Christians, issues such as non-government school funding, Christian chaplaincy, internet filtering, Millennium Goal fulfillment, asylum seeker policy will be important although the two major parties have attempted to neutralise each other on most of these issues.
In working out how to vote on August 21, Australian Christian Voter will provide timely news and commentary and will also link to the work of organisations such as Australian Christian Lobby and Micah Challenge in understanding key issues.

Both ACL and Micah Challenge encourage voters to organise electorate forums to meet candidates to learn of their values and policies.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gillard to call election tomorrow: ABC

The ABC is reporting that it 'understands' Prime Minister Julia Gillard will tomorrow call an election for August 28.

The ABC website says that according to Labor sources, 'Ms Gillard is expected to visit Quentin Bryce in Canberra tomorrow morning. But it is believed that the issuing of the writs will be delayed until next Wednesday to allow more time for people to enrol to vote.'

Crikey.com is passing on the ABC's story with the comment that Ms Gillard will have to be out to Yarralumla early to meet the Governor General before Ms Bryce catches a plane to France to attend the dedication of the Fromelles Military Cemetery.