Jim Wallace: how should christians vote?

With a Federal election fast approaching, campaigning is in full swing. Almost every day we are learn of a new policy being announced or a new campaign-tactic being tried.  But what does this mean for Christians? How much impact will the Christian vote have at the Federal election and why should we get involved?   Christian engagement with the political sphere makes a vital difference to our nation. In a representative democracy, such as Australia, politicians are sensitive to the views of the electorate, particularly their own constituents. This means there is an opportunity for Christians to influence the way we are governed, through both an individual and combined voice. It means we can play a role in helping to shape our society to be more moral, compassionate and just.

'There are bigger things at stake than K. Rudd's future'

KEVIN Rudd has broken his silence to deny he has been leaking against Julia Gillard and to strongly back the Prime Minister for re-election.  The dumped Labor leader, who underwent surgery to have his gall bladder removed on Friday, declared that while he was disappointed about his fate, he refused to be bitter and wanted to continue to contribute to public life.

Coalition stirs $3bn fight on health

A COALITION government would spend $3.1 billion to fund 2800 new hospital beds over four years -- 1500 more beds than promised by Labor.  In its long-awaited GP and hospitals policy to be released by Tony Abbott in Sydney today, the Coalition will seek to steal some thunder from Labor's controversial reform proposals.

Gillard's upfront $500 for mums

PARENTS-TO-BE lacking essential items or battling to pay big bills will be able to receive $500 of their $5294 baby bonus upfront.  Julia Gillard announced the change yesterday saying she'd made the payments more flexible to ease cost-of-living pressures on struggling parents.  Under the Howard government's baby bonus scheme, new parents were given a lump-sum payment of $5000. But the Rudd government changed the method of payment to fortnightly instalments because it believed some money was being mismanaged.

Don't believe the Greens, we'll be running on gas

IF you thought Kyoto and Copenhagen were nonsense, wait until you see what the Greens have in store next with their global oil depletion protocol.  The big parties may be converging on significant policies but that is not an indication of a lack of serious consequences at the election outcome.

Aboriginal communities ask government for drink bans

THREE Aboriginal communities around Halls Creek have had stringent new alcohol bans imposed on their lands.  The communities in Halls Creek, one of the country's most troubled remote shires, asked the West Australian government for the bans.  Approving the restrictions yesterday, Racing and Gaming Minister Terry Waldron said fines of up to $5000 would be imposed on licensees and $2000 on anyone else who was caught bringing or possessing alcohol on their lands. Police would also have power to seize or destroy any alcohol they found.

US judge overturns gay marriage ban

A US federal judge overturned California's ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday, the latest twist in a legal saga which could have nationwide implications for the divisive social issue. In a written opinion, Judge Vaughn Walker found in favor of rights activists who argued that a November 2008 referendum which barred gays and lesbians from tying the knot was discriminatory and therefore violated the US Constitution.  Socially conservative opponents of same-sex marriage had already pledged to appeal Walker's ruling if it went against them.

Mother of all battles raging as parties vie for family vote

JOHN HOWARD embraced them as his battlers. Kevin Rudd rebadged them working families. Call them what you will, nuclear families have again emerged as the golden-haired group of this election.   Families are being showered with offerings from both the Coalition and Labor - part reward for heartland supporters and part appeal to swinging voters in key marginal seats.  Julia Gillard kicked off before the official campaign began with a promise to include school uniforms in the education tax rebate, allowing parents to claim up to $779 a child in secondary school. Tony Abbott promised also to include school fees.

Gillard buys peace with private schools - and some grief

LABOR has attempted to neutralise a potentially damaging election backlash from private schools - and angered public education advocates - by guaranteeing existing funding will stay until 2013.  The move follows a concerted push from independent and Catholic schools and should ensure no repeat of the controversy that dogged Mark Latham's campaign in 2004.   The chairman of the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education, Greg O'Kelly, met Education Minister Simon Crean on the day before the election was called to press the case for funding certainty.