Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gillard says no to gay marriage

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has affirmed existing Labor Party policythat marriage is between a man and a woman.

“We believe the marriage act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples,” Ms Gillard told Austereo radio.

Asked if this was also her personal belief, she said it was.

Ms Gillard's statement is being seen as strategic in not further distancing the Christian vote after yesterday's admission that she is an atheist.

Marriage and its legal definition is one of the most sensitive issues for Christian and church leaders and both former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition leader Tony Abbott were very clear in their Make it Count webcast on June 21 that they would be preserving the current marriage act.

Heavy media focus on religion and politics

The departure of Kevin Rudd has increased, not lessened, the focus on the influence of religious beliefs and politics.

Since the leadership change last Friday there has been unprecedented focus on whether Prime Minister Julia Gillard would follow her predecessor in affirming religious faith.

When she told ABC radio yesterday that she was not a Christian and would not pretend to have faith, media and internet commentary on the issue soared.

Several major news outlets are conducting their own polls on the topic. The Sydney Morning Herald is asking readers: 'Will Julia Gillard's atheism make her more open-minded on policy?' As of this posting, 2087 readers had voted with 58 per cent saying yes, and 42 per cent no.

At the same time, Radio 2UE is asking visitors to its website: 'Should a politician's religious beliefs matter to voters?' The result is not known. asked yesterday, 'Will your vote be swayed by Julia Gillard's stance on religion?' 12601 people voted with 26 per cent answering yes, 50 per cent no and 24 per cent saying they didn't care.

Last night the 7pm Project debated the same issues and what is becoming clearer is that political support is polarising more on the issue of faith.

See ACV's poll - right.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gillard directly addresses Christians and issues of faith

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been directly questioned about religious faith and the future of the Christian vote in Australia during an interview this morning on ABC Radio.

The Australian newspaper reports that Ms Gillard appeared to 'surprised' when asked whether she believed in God and how she would court the Christian vote.

'I'm not a religious person,' Ms Gillard told ABC radio.

'I was brought up in the Baptist Church but during my adult life I've, you know, found a different path. I'm of course a great respecter of religious beliefs, but they're not my beliefs.'

Gillard moves quickly to end advertising deja vu

On June 11, Australian Christian Voter posted: 'Is the mining tax Labor's version of Work Choices? Anyone else getting a sense of deja vu?' It seemed Mr Rudd had created an almost identical political environment to the one brought on by John Howard's Work Choices which helped him lose the 2007 election.

Not surprisingly, the only definite policy statement in Julia Gillard's first speech as Prime Minister on Friday was that she was ending the mining tax advertising campaign and called on the mining industry to do the same, a hurried attempt to defuse a political time bomb.

In our June 11 post we said, 'In politics, history always repeats (no one learns their lesson the first time...) But it remains to be seen if the election outcome - the tossing out of the incumbent - will also follow suit.'

Julia, no doubt a keen reader of ACV, decided not to wait around and find out, but tossed out the incumbent herself... PH

Skill, not just values, vital for political success

ACV's Monday Comment: One week ago many Christian voters watched Australian Christian Lobby's Make it Count webcast featuring Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. Today Mr Rudd is on the backbench, Mr Abbott is fighting a rear guard action and new Prime Minister Julia Gillard is enjoying rising popularity.

This change took the proverbial wind out of the sails of many Christians interested in the political process because they had come to enjoy, perhaps a little complacently, having both major parties led by people of Christian conviction.

But in politics, as in any field of endeavour, it is not only your values that count, but your ability. When journalist Chris Uhlmann was asked whether some of Julia Gillard's views, such as being an atheist, would affect her electoral prospects, he replied that what really counted was that she was Australia's most formidable politician.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Christian parties say they offer value for votes

Australian voters with a Christian perspective have been focused on the major parties with the Make it Count webcast last Monday and a new Prime Minister on Friday.

Christian voters will watch closely the performance and direction of Julia Gillard in the coming weeks to see if the engagement with the Christian community, notable under Kevin Rudd, continues.

In the meantime, with an election imminent, parties specifically aligned with Christian values continue to press their claim to receive the votes of believers.

Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace said a vote for a Christian party candidate, even if they don’t win, was never wasted.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Salt Shakers express concern over Gillard

Christian organisation Salt Shakers has published an extensive comment piece on Julia Gillard, exploring her links with the Socialist Forum and linking to a briefing paper prepared before the 2007 election.

They express concern that 'Miss Gillard is not a social conservative or a Christian. We can expect considerable social engineering towards an even more "tolerant", socially destructive Australia.'

Find the posting about half way down on the home page of their website.

'Non-practising Baptist' brings changing political climate

'Julia Gillard may have been the first Prime Minister in Australia's history to eschew the good book when being sworn in this week. A self-described ''non-practising Baptist'', she took an affirmation rather than a Bible in hand.

'Government House does not keep records of whether any predecessors did the same, and the parliamentary library knows only that all others since [and including] Paul Keating took the oath...

'Faith in politics may not be dead under Gillard but it is certain to take on an altogether different meaning.'

So writes the Sydney Morning Herald's Joel Gibson in an analysis of the changing faith in politics climate under Julia Gillard. Read the full story here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bible and God missing from Gillard's swearing in ceremony

There has been much discussion in the Christian community about the religious beliefs or otherwise of Australia's new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

This is understandable as Christians had become accustomed to having professing Christians as Prime Minister and Opposition leader.

Few definitive statements are available on this topic although ACV posted comments yesterday showing that Ms Gillard believes connecting with Christian communities is valuable.

Today the issue of her swearing in has surfaced with people noting she did not make her affirmation on the Bible nor include words such as 'so help me God' (included, for example, in the swearing in of Governor General Quentin Bryce).

Tanner departure gives Greens hope in Melbourne

Julie Gillard's replacement of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister almost oer-shadowed the retirement from politics of Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner.

Mr Tanner announced yesterday that he would not contest the next election and made it clear that he had already discuss this with Mr Rudd and was due for final talks on the last sitting day of Parliament yesterday.

He said his decision was for family reasons and unrelated to today's leadership upheaval, and offered to continue to serve in the portfolio or stand down if it suited Julia Gilllard as she prepares to reshuffle the front bench.

Apart from leaving a whole on Labor's front bench, it makes the contest for Mr Tanner's electorate of Melbourne even more interesting as this is one of a few inner city, lower house seats that the Greens have some chance of winning.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Christian schools welcome PM Gillard

Christian Schools Australia has congratulated Julia Gillard on being sworn in as Australia's 27th Prime Minister, the first woman to occupy this high office.

A statement written by CEO Stephen O'Doherty, says 'Ms Gillard comes to her position after undertaking a significant reform agenda in education, including measures which have greatly benefited Christian schools.

'The new Prime Minister has shown herself to have an enormous capacity for work, and to exercise her many responsibilities with good grace and strong relational skills.

'She comes to her new role having built considerable goodwill within our sector.

Gillard's views on links with the Christian community

With the sudden departure of Kevin Rudd and the rise of Julia Gillard as Prime Minister, thousands of Australian Christians are searching the internet for information about her position on issues of faith. Not surprisingly, the topic is also running hot in other circles, such as atheistic forums, who are happy to see the back of Kevin Rudd.

Very little has been written about Prime Minister Gillard's own religions convictions, if any, but she did have this to say on the ABC's Compass program back in May 2005.

'I think Labor has to learn how to connect with many of the elements of our new and growing communities. And certainly the evangelical or Pentecostal churches is one of those elements. And I don’t think we should be shy, even for those of us that value the sort of secular tradition that’s grown up within the Labor Party. I don’t think we should be shy of forging connections with those sorts of community groups.'

Rudd thanks God and ACL welcomes Gillard

The Australian Christian Lobby has responded to Julia Gillard becoming Australia’s first female Prime Minister, even as Mr Rudd gives an emotional farewell speech.

'We congratulate Julia Gillard on this historic occasion,' ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said.

'However, we also want to thank Kevin Rudd for the commitment and energy he brought to issues such as homelessness, poverty, reconciliation and the importance of marriage in particular.

'Our immediate concern and prayers are for Mr Rudd, and we hope that at what must be a difficult time he can take strength in the God in whom we know he relies.'

How will Julia Gillard appeal to Christian voters?

Julie Gillard's rise today to Prime Minister came just a few days too late for the thousands of Christians who watched Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott perform in the Make it Count webcast on Monday night.

Now it is back to the drawing board for Christian voters with a new Labor leader and Christian leaders, churches and commentators will be anxious to see where Gillard stands on various issues of importance to the Christian community.

No doubt many will welcome the fact that a woman has finally taken the role of Prime Minister, but once that historic moment recedes, her policies and values will be under intense scrutiny.

So what do we know about Julia Gillard? First some salient points, and then some background:
  • Has long been associated with the left of the Labor party
  • Early in her career seemed not well disposed to private schools but more recently has said the public-private school division is an 'out-dated' cultural issue.
  • Has appeared to allow pragmatism to move her from a socialist to more conservative position, although some commentators are asking can a 'leopard change its spots'.
  • There is little written about her personal beliefs but she has not made any clear declaration of Christian faith as have Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott.
  • She has been the minister responsible for the school chaplaincy and has refused to guarantee funding past next year.
Miss Gillard has since 1998 been the Member of Lalor, a safe Labor seat in Melbourne's outer south-west suburbs. Since December 3, 2007 she has been the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, the first woman and the first foreign-born person to hold this position.

Historically attached to the left faction of the ALP, Miss Gillard has also been Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations; Minister for Education; and Minister for Social Inclusion.

As Minister for Education, Gillard is responsible for the government's controversial 'Building Australia's Education Revolution' program.

Julia Eileen Gillard was born in Wales on September 29, 1961 and migrated to Australia with her family in 1966, settling in Adelaide. She attended Unley High School, graduating in 1978; then on to the University of Adelaide with a later move to Melbourne. In 1986 she graduated from the University of Melbourne with arts and law degrees and, the following year, joined the law firm Slater & Gordon at Werribee, working in the area of industrial law.In 1990 she was admitted as one of their first female partners.

In 1983, Gillard became the second woman to lead the Australian Union of Students and she was also formerly the secretary of the left-wing organisation, Socialist Forum. From 1996 to 1998, Gillard served as Chief-of-Staff to Victorian Opposition Leader, John Brumby.

Gillard's partner is Tim Mathieson, a hairdresser. She does not have any children. According to Wikipedia, Gillard is notable both at home and in overseas nations such as the United States for her broad Australian accent.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rudd to contest leadership ballot at 9am tomorrow

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said at a press conference at 10.28pm that he will contest the leadership at tomorrow's ballot after Julie Gillard tonight requested a spill.

The Prime Minister said that if he is re-elected, the Labor Party will not be lurching to the right on asylum seekers and will move forward on its agenda on climate change according its own timing.

Rudd, Gillard and other ministers meeting now

Channel 7 is saying that Kevin Rudd will stand down from leadership. He's just arrived a a media conference. Julie Gillard has asked for a leadership vote and Kevin Rudd has agreed.

The Punch has a live blog of what is happening in a potential leadership challenge against Kevin Rudd tonight. ACV will bring you (below) some of these updates are click here to go to The Punch.

Update 10.10pm: Kevin Rudd is about to hold a press conference and Sky is reporting there will be a challenge first thing tomorrow morning.

Abbott to churches on parental leave, smaller government, families and more

Opposition leader Tony Abbott addressed thousands of Christians around Australia through the Make it Count webcast on Monday, night. In his 20 minute speech, he acknolwedged achievements of the Howard era and covered issues such school chaplains, reduction of government waste, paid parental leave, and his values as a person and politician. Read the full text of his speech:

ACL news feed on ACV

Australian Christian Voter has just become even more convenient by including a news feed direct from the Australian Christian Lobby website.

Scroll down and on the right of the page you will see Australian Christian Lobby News featuring five of the latest news items from ACL.

ACL is one of the best sources of news and information for Christian voters and adds to the comprehensive coverage of Christian election news available here at ACV.

Rudd to churches on schools, chaplains, homelessness, health and more

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd addressed thousands of Christians around Australia through the Make it Count webcast on Monday, night. In his 23 minute speech, he covered school funding, economic stimulus, homelessness and welfare strategies, employment, climate change and Millenium Goals. Read the full text of his speech:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Leaders perform well in successful webcast

Both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott performed well in their speeches and answers before a live audience of hundreds and internet audience of thousands during tonight's Make it Count webcast.

Both acknowledged the importance of the church in Australian society, committed themselves to the current definition of marriage, and supported the chaplaincy program for schools.

They were also careful to emphasis that government is not just for Christians but for people of all faiths and no faith.

Abbott gave more detail to a question on the sexualisation of children and said he supported a further review of this issue and an overhaul of the 'broken' censorship system.

Rudd said he was committed to an emissions trading scheme and was waiting for a 'dfferent' parliament after the election to pursue this. He spoke of continuing to move to fulfil the Millennium Goals and specifically mentioned Christian group, Micah Challenge, which is lobbying strongly for this.

Abbott gave an undertaking to fund school chaplains to 2014 while Rudd said funding would continue through to 2011 and he believed a review would support extended funding, but stopped short of a further commitment.

Abbott emphasised the need for real relationship between indigenous and other Australians before lasting reconciliation could occur while Rudd highlighted his government's compassionate stand on asylum seekers.

For a full transcript of both 20 minute speeches from the leaders, keep watching Australian Christian Voters. Use the Subscribe option in the right column to receive updates.

419 venues registered for Make it Count

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will tonight address Christians gathering in 418 churches in Australia and a venue in New Zealand through the Australian Christian Lobby's Make It Count webcast.

About 200 church leaders will meet with the two political leaders in Old Parliament House for the live broadcasts at 7pm on the east coat, 6.30pm in South Australia and Northern Territory and a delayed telecast at 7.30pm in Western Australia.

Christian denominational heads will also get one on one time with both the Prime Minister and Mr Rudd during this afternoon before preparing to question them as part of the webcast.

Apart from a prepared speech from both party leaders, church leaders will ask carefully managed questions to cover a range of topics and both leaders will receive the same questions, to avoid any suggestion of bias.

ACL are hoping for a strong attendance at all webcast venues and will use collate numbers as a sign of the strength of the Christian vote. To find a venue near you, click here.

Australian Christian Voter will give an independent report on the webcast tomorrow, Tuesday, June 22.

Friday, June 18, 2010

August election firms with PM's clarification

Election date predictions are running hot after Kevin Rudd's comments on ABC television last night a clarifying statement today.

Mr Rudd told the 7.30 Report, 'We have an election due by whatever it is, March or April next year, and we only have three-year terms. You've got to use the time effectively.'

This led to speculation that he would until next year to call an election. However he quickly moved to confirm the election would be in 2010.

'The Prime Minister has made clear on several occasions, as recently as last week, that the election will be held this year,' a spokesman said. 'The Prime Minister has also explained many times in response to questions that despite this an election could technically be held at any time up to April 2011.'

So now it is definite the election is this year, political pundits are fine-tuning their estimates as to which month it will be.

Some point to Mr Rudd's repeated stressing of his preference to run a full term. The 2007 election was on November 24 meaning a November election could be the choice. Greens leader Bob Brown favours this suggestion.

However ABC political reporter Antony Green gives strong reasoning for an August election:

'...the fixed term election dates for Victoria on 27 November 2010 and NSW on 26 March 2011 mean that the Federal election will have to be over by the end of October to avoid overlap with state polls.

'With football finals in September, and Commonwealth Games in October, that means the date for the Federal election date is likely to be either in August, early September, or between the 16th and 30th of October.

'Maybe 21 August, the same date that John Curtin led Labor to its greatest ever election victory in 1943.'

Antony Green also includes new electoral enrolment procedures for  Victoria as a factor. Victoria is about to follow NSW's model an automatically register 18 year olds to vote in state elections, but not federally. To vote in a federal poll, they must still enrol through the Australian Electoral Commission.

To avoid this confusion, Green says, August is the best date. Read his full blog posting here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Abbott to go surfing with Afghan refugee thanks to GetUp!

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will share a private surfing lesson with six Afghan refugees thanks to his 'purchase' in a charity auction by left wing activist organisation, GetUp!

GetUp! paid $16,100 for Mr Abbott as part of the parliamentary press gallery's Midwinter Ball charity fundraising auction conducted on EBay.

GetUp says refugee Riz Wakil will have the surfing lesson with Mr Abbott on Sydney's northern beaches. Five fellow refugees will join the Liberal leader and Mr Wakil afterwards for breakfast.

Mr Wakil fled Afghanistan aged 18. He came to Australia in 1999 and spent nine months in the Curtin immigration detention centre.

'Mr Abbott can teach me a thing or two about surfing and I'll teach him about what refugees go through to build a new life in Australia,' Mr Wakil told

Mr Abbott attracted 46 bids and was much more profitable for charity than Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who attracted $12,600 from 14 bids. The winning bidder was Channel 10's 7pm Project who are askin viewers to help them decide to have at dinner for six with Mr Rudd or go bare foot bowling with Mr Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan.
$10,100 was paid for dinner with Julia Gillard while only $7,100 was paid for dinner with all five Green senators.
Mr Abbott's purchase included free postage and handling but there was a no returns policy in place...

Fielding's abortion comments attract criticism

Senator Steve Fielding has been criticised for suggesting that some women may get pregnant and then have a late term abortion so they can receive taxpayer money in the form of paid parental leave.

Senator Fielding's comments came during the largely bipartisan debate about the government scheme. It became heated when the Family First senator introduced amendments dealing with abortion.

He called for a stricter definition of a mother's eligibility in the event of a late-term abortion - to ensure those women are not eligible for any paid parental leave.

The debate moved to the difference between stillborn babies and those that had been aborted.

'We don't need assurances, we need to make sure this is in the law,' Senator Fielding told parliament on Wednesday.

'There may be mums out there who want to cheat the system in an horrific way.'

Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce called the Family First senator Steve Fielding a 'minor pawn' playing politics in 'the most base way'.

Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young accused the senator of 'dirt politics'. Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield accused Senator Fielding of attempting to wage a proxy battle on abortion through unrelated legislation.

Source: Ninemsn

Friday, June 11, 2010

Christians make their voice heard

Two major Christian events will impact Australia's political landscape later this month, bringing the concerns of Christian voters to the very seat of power.

Some 318 delegates representing 98 electorates will meet more than 100 politicians as part of Micah Challenge's Voices of Justice conference in Canberra from June 19 to 22.

Micah Challenge is an evangelical Christian organisation established globally to to inspire and equip Christians to speak out against poverty and injustice. In particular MC asks governments to achieve the Unite Nation's Millennium Development Goals and halve global poverty by 2015.

In Australia, Micah Challenge is asking the Australian government to:
  • Give more aid - a timetabled pre-election commitment to increasing aid to 0.7% GNI
  • Give better aid - specifically towards child and maternal health
  • Tackle climate change and the impact it is having on the world's poor
Micah Challenge National Coordinator, John Beckett, has called on churches to 'pray for Voices of Justice participants, our politicians, and the poor around the world for whom (and with whom) we are advocating (and for our organising team!)

'This year we have unprecedented access to politicians in Parliament House. We are issuing a call to prayer on Sunday, June 20. We want thousands of voices bringing us before God as we bring the message of justice for the poor before these leaders,' Mr Beckett said. 

'Pray that our message will be heard and our Government will take the action that is needed to overcome poverty in our region and beyond to end the pointless suffering of millions. Pray that we will all be transformed to live more justly and with compassion.'
As of today, 262 churches across Australia have registered for Make it Count, a national webcast of Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott organised by the Australian Christian Lobby for Monday evening, June 21.

The event will be webcast from old Parliament House where Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott will address churches across the nation and answer questions from Christian leaders at the venue.

'The political landscape has changed rapidly over the past six months and pundits are now predicting that this year’s election is up for grabs and that whoever wins, neither major Party will have a majority in the Senate,' an ACL spokesperson said.

'This is why it is vital that Christians tune in to the live Make It Count webcast with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

'By turning out in big numbers on Monday, June 21 we will send a message to politicians that there is a large constituency in the Christian community to be won. We will also be honouring the commitment Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott have made to us by giving their time to this event.'

Click here to register for the event or to find participating churches.

Is the mining tax Labor's version of Work Choices?

Anyone else getting a sense of deja vu? In the lead up to the 2007 federal election John Howard's Coalition dug its heels in on Work Choices, refusing to moderate some of its more hard-hitting components. In doing so they awakened a slightly sleepy giant, the union movement, who spent millions of dollars opposing the Coalition on that one issue. The Coalition in turn authorised millions of dollars of 'government' advertising in support of Work Choices.

A Win and a Prayer: Scenes From the 2004 Australian Election (Briefings)Three years later and Kevin Rudd's ALP appears to have dug its heels in on the mining super profit tax and, at this stage, is refusing to moderate the more controversial components. Another slightly sleepy giant has been awakened, this time the mining industry, and a faintly reminiscent advertising campaign costing millions of dollars is in full swing, opposing the ALP on this one issue. And you guessed it, the ALP has in turn authorised millions of dollars of 'government' advertising in support of the tax. 

In politics, history always repeats (no one learns their lesson the first time...) But it remains to be seen if the election outcome - the tossing out of the incumbent, will also follow suit.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Greens main electoral chance in inner city

With opinion polls showing support for the Greens as high as 16 per cent, the next question is how would this translate to seats in the House of Representatives.
Putting aside the history of the Greens spiking between elections but falling short on election day, even if general support stayed at 16 per cent, they would need this level of support or even higher in individual electorates to actually win a lower house seat.

The only electorates where this could possibly occur are the inner city Labor seats of Melbourne in Victoria (see the Greens campaign strategy for Melbourne on AVC's Watching page), along with Sydney and Grandlyer in NSW. In each case it would be sitting Labor party members who would lose - Lindsay Tanner, Tanya Plibersek and Anthony Albanese respectively.

The Oxford Companion to Australian Politics (Oxford Companions)Further, the Greens candidate would have to finish ahead of the Liberal candidate in these seats and for the Liberals to send their preferences to the Greens candidate, to have some chance of passing the Labor candidate.

Given the Liberals distance from the Greens, it would seem unlikely they would give their preferences to the Greens unless they were given Green preferences in other marginal seats - also very unlikely.

Another, even more remote, possibility is that if minor parties and independents in those electorates also experienced an upswing, as shown by the polls, and their preferences flowed heavily to the Greens, then Labor could be defeated. Given that Christian Democratic Party and Family First candidates will be in this mix, Christians who vote for them could have a role in how far the Greens get with their lower house dream.

As for the Senate, if the opinion poll results carried over uniformly to each state on a election day, then the Greens could increased numbers.

Gerard Henderson, executive director of The Sydney Institute, writes in the Sydney Morning Herald: 'For all the current media hype, this year's election looks like a not untypical close encounter between Labor and the Coalition - with both parties hoping to maximise preferences from the Greens, minor parties such as Family First and independents.

'Even if the Liberals make it possible for the Greens to win, say, three seats, the Greens would have no greater representation than enjoyed now by independents Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott.
'The Greens might win House of Representative seats and just might have a role to play in a hung parliament. But it is unlikely Bob Brown and his colleagues will be anything other than influential senators.'

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Comedians, models, footballers urge young to register to vote

The Australian Electoral Commission has enlisted high profile personalities from various fields to encourage young Australians to enrol to vote, on the basis that many don't even know a federal election is likely this year.

Comedian Dave Hughes, TV presenter Ruby Rose, swimmer Eamon Sullivan, actors Aaron Pederson and Matthew Werkmeister, models Tahnee Atkinson and Laura Dundovic and AFL footballers Tom Scully and Jack Watts are among those who have lent their names to the AEC campaign.

With more than 1.4 million people missing from the electoral roll, with about 70 per cent of those aged 18 to 39, the AEC wants to remind Australians that "even famous people vote".

Hughes is among the celebrities who has made a short video clip urging Australians to add their names to the roll before the election and you can see his impromptu effort on Australian Christian Voter's Watching page.

And the latest on the program is that when asked about Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, one of the footballers featured didn't know which party he belonged too - further proof of the need to encourage younger people to be aware of the political process. More on this later. PH

Monday, June 7, 2010

Jim Wallace rejects Fred Nile's claims of bias

Claims that the 2007 Make it Count webcast was biased against John Howard and helped him lose the election were rejected today by Australian Christian Lobby managing director, Jim Wallace.

The claims were made by Rev Fred Nile in a Christian Democratic Party email newsletter sent on Saturday. Mr Nile, referring to the upcoming Make it Count webcast with Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, said he hoped it wasn't as biased on the 2007 webcast. Click here for ACV's full report.

Mr Wallace said Rev Nile's comments were unsubstantiated and that the ACL was 'determinedly non-partisan'.

'Rev Fred Nile’s claims about the 2007 Make it Count event being biased are completely without foundation. Both Howard and Rudd were given equal time to speak and for the most part were asked similar questions. If anything, the warm applause Howard received had some people saying the night had favoured him!' Mr Wallace told ACV.

'The reality is that ACL was providing an opportunity for the two leaders to present themselves and their beliefs and policies to Christian voters in an unbiased way and we believe that we achieved that aim. ACL is determinedly non partisan, but if others have a bias when they watch the event, it will almost surely colour their perception, as seems to be the case here.'

Further comment has also been sought from Rev Nile. An ACV reader, 'Milton', commented on the original story and said, 'I was at the event at a church in Cardiff NSW. I do believe that not challenging the fudging of the Christian commitment by Rudd was not helpful as it made him more palatable to the Christian community... I am confident that a bias in favour of the perceived social justice of the ALP came through.'

The next Make it Count webcast in on June 21 and so far 156 churches have registered.

Are we seeing a UK-style, third party scenario emerging?

MONDAY COMMENT: A week is a long time in politics... and yet we have started this week as we did the last with a major newspaper poll showing that the Coalition is in front of Labor, both major party leaders are losing popularity and minor parties, notably the Greens, are receiving record levels of support.

Taken together, these polls suggest that one in four Australians are either 'parking' their vote outside the major parties or planning to vote for a minor party. The Greens, as the largest of these, gain most of the media attention.

Minor parties thought to represent Christians voters, such as Family First or Christian Democratic Party, are not mentioned as their poll support is too low.

But one issue not mentioned in relation to these latest polls, is how will the broad sweep of Christians vote? This is an issue not to be ignored as it may well have been the deciding factor for the past two federal elections.

And Christians need to engage with the political process at some level because Australia could, at some point, follow the path of the UK where a third party emerged in the two-party system and is now sharing power in Government.

Coalition ahead of Labor and minor parties surge

The Herald/Nielson poll published today confirms last week's Newspoll showing that primary vote support for both major parties has fallen with increased support for The Greens, other minor parties (such as Family First) and independents.
At the same time, on a two party-preferred basis, the Coalition has 53% support compared to the ALP's 47%. Both major party leaders are less popular with an approval rating of 41% each. This is being touted as the first poll to show the government would actually lose the next election, due to the large margin in favour of the Coalition.

It would seem credibility gaps for both Labor and Liberal are, for the purpose of polling at least, pushing voters towards alternatives, making it a key time for these parties to press their claims.

Greens leader Bob Brown is doing just that and has said given record levels of support in polling, he should be allowed to participate in the leaders' debate during the election campaign. Read more poll results in the SMH.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Green candidates to counter Brown

The Christian Democratic Party has found a new strategy for countering the effect of The Greens - field candidates whose names are Green.

Their lead NSW Senate candidate is Paul Green, mayor of Shoalhaven City Council, while in the NSW by-election for Penrith their candidate is Andrew Green.

Could be a good tactic... Now all we need to know is how did someone called Brown get to lead the Greens?

If you would like to assist Andrew Green in the Penrith by-election, call him on 0419 294 055. To show support for Paul Green in the Senate battle,  click here. PH

Nile hopes for less 'bias' in Make it Count webcast

Christian Democratic Party leader Rev Fred Nile believes John Howard's election loss was partly caused by bias in the 2007 Make it Count webcast and expressed hope that a similar upcoming event would be less biased towards Tony Abbott.

Make it Count is a national political webcast conducted by the Australian Christian Lobby in which the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition are invited to address Christians viewing in churches and answer questions by a selected studio audience. The 2007 webcast attracted more than 500 churches and 300,000 viewers and another is scheduled for June 21.

Commenting today on the two leaders' electoral prospects, Rev Nile said, 'The belief that Kevin Rudd could not be beaten has been shattered by the unexpected electorate support for Tony Abbott, whom I have known since 1979 when he was a University student.

'They will now debate together on Monday, June 21 2010 in Canberra,' Rev Nile said. 'We hope it will not be as biased against Tony as it was against John Howard, which helped to cause his defeat in 2007.'

The comments were contained in an email sent to churches and supporters titled 'Salt and Light - A black and white voice in a grey world of politics'.

Rev Nile continued: 'Kevin Rudd, by his policy failures, has lost the support of the Australian people and does not deserve to be re-elected. Tony Abbott MP, as our future Prime Minister, would provide positive Christian and economic leadership at this critical time in our Nation’s history.

'Please pray that God’s will be done in the Federal Election.'

Australian Christian Voter is seeking a response from Australian Christian Lobby to Rev Nile's comments about the Make it Count webcast. As of today, 143 churches across the nation have registered for the webcast.

Did you attend the 2007 Make it Count webcast and if so, do you believe it was biased? Please use the comment option below this posting for discussion of Rev Nile's comments.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fox tells Rudd: follow Jesus' example

It's been a torrid time for both Labor and Liberal leaders in recent weeks, with the credibility of Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott both called into question.

So today's advice from one of Australia's leading businessmen, Lindsay Fox, to follow Jesus' leadership example could only be described as timely.

Mr Fox said that the Prime Minister needed to learn how to delegate and referred to Jesus unwritten leadership book.

‘You have to delegate some authority [to ministers],’ Mr Fox said.

‘In the case of Jesus Christ, he had 12 disciples and those disciples carried his message long after he was gone.’

Given that both Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott would count themselves as disciples of Jesus, let's hope that as we head towards an election that its not just the principle of delegation of which they take note. PH

Was Malcolm the first to take an Ipad to Parliament?

Liberal backbencher and former retiree, Malcolm Turnbull spent some of question time on Monday showing off his weekend purchase of a 64-gig, WiFi and 3G-connected iPad. This follows his previous early-adoption and display of the ebook reader, the Kindle.

Sydney Morning Herald journalist, David Marr observed: 'To his bemused companions he demonstrated the iPad's capabilities, tapping the screen as if totting up a cafe bill. Two flat whites: tap. The pastrami baguette: tap. Sparkling mineral water: tap. And when a vote required him to swap benches, 'Turnbull tucked his new toy under his arm and carried it across the chamber. He wasn't going to trust it to Labor. And he could show it off to fresh companions.'

Moderate Liberal retires with eloquent commentary

'I once said to journalist Michael Gordon that "in life there are many things that you'd like to walk past and not notice. Lots. But sometimes you do notice and when you notice, you have to do something". Well I have noticed some things, and I have tried not to walk past.' Petro Georgiou, retiring Liberal Member for Kooyong.

Member for Kooyong, Petro Georgiou, gave his valedictory speech to parliament yesterday as he retires from federal politics.

Mr Georgiou served in politics for 35 years, 16 as the member for Kooyong and is well known as a principled politician who strongly supported multiculturalism and the humane treatment of asylum seekers.

His speech gives insightful commentary, not only on the Liberal Party, but on the direction of Parliamentary policy. Keep reading to see the full text of his speech.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Election date odds firming

The earliest date a full term federal election can be held under section 13 of the constitution is August 7 with the latest being April 16 next year.

Government letters linked to the controversial mining advertising campaign showed that it would run until August and so a date soon after this is firming.

In any case, with Christmas and fixed term elections in NSW (March 2011)and Victoria (November 2010), a date before the end of October is almost certain - which means an announcement should come as soon as some of the current political 'dust' settles.

100 churches so far for Make it Count

With the political spotlight on the credibility and performance of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition lead Tony Abbott, the Make it Count live webcast on June 21 assumes even more significance.

Australian Christian Lobby has secured the two leaders for the webcast in which they will both speak and answer questions from a studio audience of Christian clergy and leaders.

As of today, exactly 100 churches have registered for the event, but the ACL is hoping this will grow past the 846 churches and 100,000 viewers that signed up for a similar webcast in the 2007 election.

To register your church or see the closest webcast location, visit Make it Count.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Greens surge, hung possibility emerges

A huge increase in support for The Greens and the possibility of a hung parliament are two key elements of the latest Newspoll survey published in The Australian today.

Conducted last weekend the poll shows that support for both the Coalition and Labor Party has dropped in recent weeks while along with The Greens 16 per cent, support for other parties has risen to eight per cent, meaning nearly one in four voters is considering a non-major party vote.
  • Labor        2007 election 43.3; today 35
  • Liberal      2007 election 36.6; today 38
  • National   2007 election 05.5; today 03
  • Greens      2007 election 07.8; today 16
  • Others      2007 election 06.8; today 08
Credibility issues for both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have dinted their 'satisfaction' rating to 35% and 37% respectively.

If voting followed this survey the possibility of a hung parliament - no party with a clear majority - is more of a possibility. The role of the minor parties and independents could become significant.