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.' 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.

School funding review reignites concerns

A government review of school funding led by businessman David Gonski has reignited debate over whether Labor or Liberal will provide a better deal for non-government school funding.

With the review not due to report to well after the election, new Minister for Education Simon Crean has been assuring the non-government school sector that no school would lose 'a dollar of funding' and '...there is no schools hit list for those who want to run a scare campaign.'

This has not comforted Greg O'Kelly, the chairman of the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education, who said it left open the possibility that funding could be frozen in real terms.

'The outcome for some hundreds of Catholic parish and regional primary and secondary schools is that their funding may be frozen in real dollar terms for several years from 2013,' he said.

The Coalition has been keen to put its nose ahead on the issue and Opposition spokesman for Education, Christopher Pyne, has promised that non-government school funding will be 'enhanced' under a Coalition government.

The review of the funding system established by John Howard was initiated by Julia Gillard while Education minister and the panel has an interesting make-up. Chair David Gonski is a former student and chairman of  of Sydney Grammar School while review panel members Ken Boston and Carmen Lawrence are on the record in saying the government school should receive priority and the current funding system is flawed.

Liberals finally get organised in key election region

The Liberal Party will finalise its line-up in Western Sydney tomorrow when it finally pre-selects candidates for the seats of Greenway, Parramatta and Chifley.

After announcing Penrith local Fiona Scott as the Liberal candidate for Lindsay, the race for Greenway is between two pre-selection candidates of Filipino decent, Venus Priest and Jayme Diaz. If the Liberals were to win Greenway, either one would be the first person of Filipino background in the federal Parliament.

Greenway is held by Liberal Louise Markus but a redistribution means it is now notionally Labor and Ms Markus will contest the nearby seat of Macquarie.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott said during a visit to Penrith Paceway this week that he hoped to be campaigning in western Sydney 'as much as is humanely possible' between now and the election.

During the paceway visit, Ms Scott was asked if she believed asylum seekers was an important issue in her electorate and she instead redirected the focus to the state of Nepean Hospital. This is despite Labor being convinced that asylum seeker policy is 'killing them' in areas such as western Sydney.

Penrith preferences telling for federal poll

Western Sydney will be a crucial battlefield in the upcoming federal election and so some aspects of the results from the recent state Penrith by-election have special importance.

While the election was largely fought on state and electorate issues, the performance of minor parties and preference flows may translate federally.

The Greens received 12.1 per cent of the primary vote (6.6+) with 21.5 per cent of preferences flowing to Labor and 13.2 to Liberal. More than 65 per cent of Green votes 'exhausted' which means these voters chose not to preference.

The Christian Democratic Party was the next biggest of the minor parties with 4.4% of the vote (1.8-) with 11.2 per cent preferences to Labor and 49.1 per cent to Liberal. Only 39.7 of CDP votes exhausted, the lowest for any candidate.

Point of interest include the strong performance of the Greens in an area not usually associated with the Green vote and the general reluctance of the Green voters to preference the major parties.

The CDP must be disappointed to have lost votes at a time when the sitting member and Labor was heavily on the nose. On the positive, it is still a reasonable primary vote which sends a message regarding the importance of CDP voters and their preferences in tight election results, such as may occur in the federal poll.

Source: Preference flow information from Antony Green Election Blog.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Election date firms as ads begin and issues blur

ALP advertisements began appearing on prime time television last night, another signal that Australia is just weeks away from an early election. The ads featured a scraggy photo of Tony Abbot and an appeal not to trust him with Australia's health system.

Add to this Julia Gillard's asylum seeker policy wobble last week and plans to announce almost a replica of the Opposition's climate challenge policy tomorrow, and pundits are backing in an August 28 election.

Julia Gillard got the Prime Minister's job on the back of her reputation of being as Labor's most formidable politician and yet this took a battering last week with the on-again-of-again East Timor refugee processing centre.

Still benefiting from an electoral honeymoon, the Labor part machine is likely to recommend moving ahead quickly before it suffers from any more communication meltdowns.

At the same time, climate change is the last area to be 'tidied up' and it appears Ms Gillard's solution will be to focus on renewable energy, energy efficiencies and consultation with business. This mirrors the Opposition to some degree and removes the 'great big new tax' line from the election. It also portrays Ms Gillard as the new-style consultative Prime Minister.

Cabinet will be asked for its view on election timing tomorrow.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Politicians fail to deliver on asylum seeker policy

ACV Sunday Comment
By Peter Hallett

Prime Minister Julia Gillard carefully attempted to stake out the high moral ground when she spoke about asylum seekers and other foreign policy issues in an address to the Lowey Institute last Tuesday.

Appealing for open debate, calling for people to refrain from demonising others with different views and suggesting a regional approach to asylum seekers, for a few moments she was at her convincing best.

But as the detail (or lack of) in her policies sank in, it became obvious that not only was she was pushing the same policy for which she has lambasted the Opposition - overseas processing of asylum seekers - she was in danger of replaying the mistakes of the Rudd Government - great sounding policy and no capacity to carry it out.

In the week following the announcement, it became clear that East Timor was far from united in support of the idea, and when Papua New Guinea was suggested as an alternative, that nation gave an even colder response.

And a good clue was given as to where the Prime Minister's real concerns lay when she appeared, some would say cynically, on the deck of a navy patrol ship with none other than David Bradbury, the Labor member for the marginal seat of Lindsay in Sydney's west.

As Ms Gillard's asylum seeker policy unravelled, even Senator Stephen Fielding's idea of returning 'illegal' asylum seekers to the back of the queue in refugee camps and bringing two refugees to Australia in their place started to look plausible.

And with Opposition leader Tony Abbott left vulnerable by comments that implied he might authorise the towing out to sea of refugees in leaky boats, it became clear Australia is unlikely to see sensible policy on this issue with an election so near.

One thing Ms Gillard got right - both appropriate border protection and compassionate treatment of asylum seekers are valid concerns. The best possible solution would be to remove this debate from the political arena and give it into the hands of those with serious expertise and legitimate concern. Now that would be statesman-like.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

'Very good chance' of re-election: Fielding

Victorian Senator Steve Fielding has featured in a wide-ranging interview in the Herald Sun newspaper in which he told how he wanted to hide forever after he badly fumbled a press conference.

Senator Fielding has also revelaed he has had second thoughts about whether he should have revealed he was sexually abused as a child.

Despite these concerns, Fielding, sometimes dubbed the 'accidental Senator', believes he has a 'very good chance' of being re-elected - along with a 'good chance' of being booted out.
Read the Herald Sun's full interview with Senator Fielding.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Gillard proposes East Timor regional processing centre

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has tried to re-cast the asylum seeker debate in Australia by proposing that compassion for refugees and tough border protection are not incompatible.

In a speech to the Lowy Institute today, she rejected the divisive impasse that 'slogans' and 'labels' had produced in the asylum seeker debate.

'If you are hard-headed you're dismissed as hard-hearted. If you are open-hearted you are marginalised as supporting open borders,' Ms Gillard said.

To find new ground for discussion, she unveiled a bid for new regional processing centre in East Timor that would handle asylum seeker processing for the region, effectively removing a product for people smugglers to sell but sounding more than a little reminiscent of the 'Pacific solution'.

She had spoken about the plan with the East Timorese leader President Jose Ramos-Horta, the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, and claimed all were open to the idea.

In another policy announcement, Ms Gillard commissioned a report on Australian population sustainability and said if re-elected she would toughen laws on people smuggling.

To help make up your own mind about Ms Gillard's policy announcements today, the full text of her speech follows.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Asylum seeker policy moves to centre stage

Voters can expect to see clarification of  Labor's asylum seeker policy when Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivers a major statement of foreign affairs at the Lowey Institute for International Policy in Sydney on Tuesday.

During her press conference regarding the mining tax deal yesterday, Ms Gillard said she had further policy areas to address with asylum seekers at the top of the list, followed by population policy and climate change.

The issue of asylum seekers is one of particular sensitivity to the Christian community with many churches and Christian organisations involved in advocacy and care for refugees.

In his fighting speech before being deposed as Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd warned of a 'lurching to the right' on the issue of asylum seekers if he was removed from office. He was referring to the belief in some Labor factions that the party need to toughen border protection in line with community views.

Ms Gillard, speaking to The Age, said their would be 'no quick fix' and denied that any toughening of the laws would represent a lurch to the right.

'I don't think this is appropriately diagnosed as a left-right debate. It's a practical problem that requires practical solutions,' she said.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Make your electorate aware of poverty

Micah Challenge knows a good reason to get activate in the upcoming election - every minute, 20 children die from preventable causes and another minute passes while the Millennium Development Goals remain unmet.

For this reason they are inviting interested voters to hold a Make Poverty History forum in their local federal electorate.

MPH forums are an effective way to engage the public, federal MPs and candidates in considering how to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and halve global poverty.

'Holding your own electoral forum helps raise awareness in the community on global poverty and reminds our leaders that every minute counts for those people living in extreme poverty,' reports the Micah Challenge website.

Click here to see a map of forums registered so far. If there is none in your electorate, download the information kit and register a forum.

If a forum is already planned in your electorate - plan now to attend. If there is not already a forum in your electorate, register now to run one.

ACL rules out a second Make it Count with PM Gillard

Australian Christian Lobby has ruled out running another Make it Count webcast as a result of the leadership change resulting in Julia Gillard becoming Prime Minister.

ACL Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton said it would unrealistic to stage another event before the election which could be sooner rather than later.

'A lot of work goes in to putting an event like this on – not to mention the generous co-operation of the two busiest people in politics,' Mr Shelton said on the ACL website.

'However, as always, ACL has put questions to the major parties covering a range of areas of concern to Christians. We will be publishing the answers on our Australia Votes website during the campaign period.

'We are also working to assist Christians to learn as much as possible about their local candidates and their values. Elections are always a strategic time to engage politics. We will be doing our best to encourage Christians to engage and influence the values of the candidates and parties that will shape the character of the nation after the election,' Mr Shelton said.

Gillard announces mining tax breakthrough

After days of negotiations in a 'windowless room' with 'sleeves rolled up' Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a breakthrough agreement this morning for the super profits mining tax.

The new Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) will be cut to 30 per cent, down from the previously 'not-negotiable' 40, and will only apply to coal and iron ore. Oil and gas projects will come under the current Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT) regime.

The government compromises result in a loss of revenue of $1.5 billion which means the proposed reduction of company tax will be halved. Instead of falling to 28 per cent, it will drop to 29 per cent in 2013/14 for big companies and 2012/13 for small business.

The proposed funding of a superannuation guarantee increase will go ahead and it will rise to 12 per cent, meaning more super for working Australians. A Policy Transition Group chaired by Don Argus will assist the government and mining industry in implementation of the new arrangements.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hear for yourself as Julia answers, do you believe in God?

With unprecedented media focus on the religious beliefs of new Prime Minister Julia Gillard, there is as much fiction as facts being reported.

But during a 15 minute interview with Melbourne ABC radio announcer, John Fain, Ms Gillard is asked directly, do you believe in God? She then speaks about her faith and religious upbringing for about two minutes. Click the play button on the widget below and listen for yourself.

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