MEDIA RELEASE



Monday, 26th August 2013



The Australian Christian Lobby says voters can be better informed at this election with the release of the parties’ responses on http://www.Australiavotes.org.au to 22 questions put to them by the Australian Christian Lobby.



ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the parties were asked questions in relation to issues of poverty, international justice, youth and education, family, indigenous welfare, environment, justice, and public Christianity.



He said the key points of differences between Labor and the Coalition related to treatment of charities and not-for-profits, overseas aid, marriage, national curriculum, environmental sustainability and freedom of religion.



“On overseas aid, the Labor Party has committed to a timetable for Australia reaching 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2017-18 whereas the Coalition has not committed to a timetable,” he said.



“On marriage, it is no surprise that there is a difference between both parties with the Coalition supporting the current definition of marriage and the Labor Party supporting a redefinition but allowing a conscience vote on the issue. The Coalition has also offered $200 vouchers to couples intending to marry.



“On national curriculum, the Coalition has said it’s been calling for the national curriculum to give appropriate weight to Australia’s Western and Judaeo-Christian heritage and would continue to review the national curriculum if elected. However, the Labor Party only reiterated the curriculum’s benefit.



“On the issue of environmental sustainability, Labor and Coalition have a difference of opinions when it comes to looking after the environment with Labor policy promoting an emissions trading scheme and the Coalition advocating direction action on climate change and the raising of a ‘Green Army’,” he said.



Mr Shelton believed policies from both sides of politics would be both attractive and disappointing for Christians and that meant it was important for people to examine the Australiavotes.org.au website carefully before September 7.



He said the Coalition’s answers in the questionnaire on marriage, treatment of charities, national curriculum and freedom of religion would appeal to many Christian voters but so too would Labor’s on gambling, homelessness, internet safety and overseas aid.



“The Coalition has said it will address homelessness by tackling housing cost pressures and whilst the Labor Party has said it would continue to invest in affordable housing through the National Rental Affordability Scheme it hasn’t recommitted funds to a new four-year National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness,” he said.



“Many faith-based organisations work to help keep people off the street and increasingly homelessness is an issue that affects families,’ he said.



Mr Shelton welcomed the Coalition’s initiative to provide $200 vouchers to couples intending to marry to be used for marriage or parenting education programs.



“The relationship breakdown of a child’s mother and father is one of the biggest contributing factors resulting in Australia’s record number of children living in out of home care because of abuse and neglect,” he said.



Mr Shelton also welcomed the Coalition’s commitment to protecting vulnerable religious minorities with its pledge to use international forums to advocate against apostasy laws in Pakistan and other countries.



Both major parties said there was no place for Sharia Law in Australia and both have committed to maintaining the Lord’s Prayer at the opening of each Parliamentary day.



Mr Shelton said ACL would host its Make it Count 2013 Election Panel webcast to talk about these issues with Christian experts as part of its strategy to help people make sense of the big issues before election day.



Response from several minor parties are also available on the Australiavotes.org.au website. ACL was still awaiting responses from the Australian Greens and Australian Christians political parties and will post these as soon as they are available.



The website also has the conscience vote history of parliamentarians.



Background:

• This is the 3rd federal election questionnaire ACL has produced

• ACL produces an election questionnaires as a service to the Christian community to help them be informed as they decide how they should vote

• In taking certain positions on issues ACL is not suggesting all Christians would support these issues.