The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen

MONICA ATTARD: Amongst all the issue raised during this election campaign religion has been a quiet undercurrent until this week when the Australian Christian lobby launched a new website to focus Christian minds on the policies of the major parties.  So how might the so-called Christian vote play out come election day? And do the personal beliefs of political leaders - Tony Abbott's Roman Catholicism, Julia Gillard's declared atheism - have any effect at the ballot box?  Hello, I'm Monica Attard. And to ponder those questions on religion and politics my guest today on Sunday Profile is the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Dr Peter Jensen.

Campaign heats up for Christians

The so-called Christian vote entered the election spotlight at the weekend with journalists asking questions about atheism, Catholic leaders and the ACL voting guide. Julia Gillard also appeared to court the Christian community, recording an interview directed at churches.  Sunday saw the distribution, through churches, of an ACL brochure outlining the party platforms of many issue of interest to the Christian community.  Archbishop Peter Jensen was interviewed by Seven news on a poll which asked a series of social and religious questions about the leaders. The news story, which aired on Friday, indicated that although only 9 percent of Australians would be troubled having a catholic as Prime Minister, almost one voter in four had difficulty with a Prime Minister who didn’t believe in God.

Election week 3: Ghost of leaders past

As the election campaign enters its most critical week, Labor is still desperately seeking traction. No less than two former leaders have appeared on the campaign trail and to judge from the frosty body language between Rudd and Gillard, there won’t be too many joint appearances between now and 21 August.   Mark Latham’s sudden appearance was like an icy wind - most unwelcome. It only served to remind us of Labor’s past poor leadership choices.  Latham’s re-emergence into the limelight even overshadowed the surprise appearance of Cheryl Kernot last week. Seems like too much politics is never enough for some people. This correspondent was slack-jawed at the sight.

Elections - Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney

Recently while on parish visitation I met the young adults group for an evening's discussion.  One of them asked me how he should vote in the coming Federal election.  I replied that it was not my role to tell them how to vote, but I would make a couple of points.  First of all they should look at the policies and personal views of the individual candidates.  Good and wise people are needed in the major political parties.  Many people, including myself, are concerned about the environment, so my second point was to urge my listeners to examine the policies of the Greens on their website and judge for themselves how thoroughly anti-Christian they are.

Family First disendorses La Trobe candidate David Barrow over same-sex marriage views

FAMILY First has disendorsed its candidate for the Victorian federal seat of La Trobe after he posted comments online supporting same-sex marriage.  It comes as the socially conservative party's Queensland Senate candidate was slammed for a tweet that said children of same-sex parents were subject to a form of abuse.  Family First Victoria chairman Peter Lake said the candidate for La Trobe, David Barrow, had misrepresented his views to the party and had even signed a "secret affidavit" denouncing its values.  Mr Lake told AAP the party yesterday became aware Mr Barrow had posted his views on same-sex marriage and other issues that were contrary to Family First policies on social networking site Twitter.

Family First's Wendy Francis denies she is homophobic after retracting 'gay marriage like child abuse' Tweet

SHE believes a prime minister in a de facto relationship isn't role-model material, says the burqa stops women from showing who they really are and has likened gay marriage to child abuse and she's running for the Australian Senate.  At 49, Mitchelton grandmother Wendy Francis is in the race of her life.  The top Senate candidate for Family First in Queensland found her views in the eye of a social media storm yesterday after she was forced to delete a Twitter post quickly dubbed offensive.  It read: "Children in homosexual relationships are subject to emotional abuse. Legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse''.

Kerb crawlers in St Kilda face bans of up to 72 hours under new laws

KERB crawlers in St Kilda face bans of up to 72 hours under new laws.  Drivers who cruise the streets looking for prostitutes will be fined $238 on the spot for breaching a banning order, or $2400 if prosecuted.  Insp Lisa Hardeman said the new laws would help cut the high level of assaults on the working girls and improve the local area for residents.  The crackdown is part of a wider crackdown on illegal brothels and street prostitution, and increased powers to seize criminals' assets.

Nerds converge to hear Turnbull offer last rites for internet filter

"I'VE never seen so many nerds here before," a Paddington RSL worker mumbled under their breath over the weekend. The club, in Malcolm Turnbull's eastern suburbs heartland, was the venue for a one-sided talkfest on Julia Gillard's mandatory internet filter.  The former opposition leader seemed pleased with attendance of about 100 people who could have chosen to go to the beach.

Tax cuts at centre of Tony Abbott's agenda

TONY Abbott has pledged to cut Australia's overall tax burden when the budget returns to surplus.  Mr Abbott says a 25 per cent company rate is a "sound idea" and that his "instinctive priority" has always been for more personal income tax cuts.  Interviewed by The Australian yesterday, the Opposition Leader said he would retain Ken Henry as Treasury secretary, and use his landmark report to produce a tax reform plan within 12 months.

Julia Gillard's cash bonus for top teachers

TOP teachers will receive cash bonuses worth 10 per cent of their salary under the first national system of performance pay.  It is the latest initiative by the Gillard government in its bid to boost education standards.  As part of its second wave of school reform, Julia Gillard yesterday outlined a scheme paying the top 10 per cent of teachers, about 25,000 staff, a one-off bonus based on their performance, including their students' results and involvement in their school.  Based on current salary levels, the bonus payments are worth up to $8100 for senior teachers and about $5400 for beginning teachers.

A quarter of us abuse alcohol

AUSTRALIA has one of the world's highest rates of alcohol abuse.  Nearly one-quarter of the general population -- and one-third of men -- are likely to develop some form of drinking problem during their lives.  The figures are part of new research that shows 18 per cent of Australians will abuse alcohol, and a further 4 per cent will become alcohol-dependent at some point.  Yet continuing stigma and limited services mean only a fraction of those receive help, with four out of five cases going untreated.

Abbott denies he will change abortion law

TONY Abbott has promised to make no changes to abortion laws if he is elected.  And he says he will not ban Medicare funding for terminations.  The Opposition Leader also vowed he would not try to ban the abortion drug RU-486.  And Mr Abbott said he would not list terminations as a separate Medicare item number.  "The answer is no, we're not going to do any of those things," Mr Abbott said yesterday in Brisbane. "We have no plans whatsoever for any change in that area."  Health Minister Nicola Roxon has accused Mr Abbott, who is a socially conservative Catholic, of letting his religious views get in the way of policy formulation. As a former health minister in the Howard government, Mr Abbott said he saw reducing the number of abortions each year as a national priority.

Women's group takes on Tony

AFFIRMATIVE action fundraising organisation Emily's List will target women voters in marginal seats. It plans to use material painting Tony Abbott as sexist and out of touch in order to help Julia Gillard's election chances.  The group also urged women to flood Twitter with positive comments about the Prime Minister during her appearance on last night's ABC Q&A program.  "We are calling on you to Twitter for Gillard tomorrow night by showing women support her and the 39 other progressive women running for parliament," the group urged yesterday. "Torpedo the Speedo, Let's Make History, Women Can't Trust Tony . . . let's see what effect we can have raising progressive women's policy issues and pro-Julia (and anti-Abbott messages) on the Q&A twitterverse tomorrow night," the email said.

I'll win, claims confident Green

THE Greens have turned to the power of positive thinking, with their Senate candidate in the ACT all but claiming victory in the election.  Lin Hatfield Dodds yesterday declared Canberra had "turned Green" as she released a YourSource poll showing 25 per cent of ACT voters planned to vote for her -- with almost 28 per cent for the Liberals and Labor on 34 per cent.  To win one of the two ACT seats, a candidate must secure 33.3 per cent of upper house votes.  Her chief opponent, Liberal senator Gary Humphries, said he doubted the accuracy of the research, warning Ms Hatfield Dodds was "starting to believe her own publicity".

A revelation: Catholics release election policies

IT MAY be late to enter the fray, but what would be Australia's biggest political party, with more than 5 million members, yesterday released its election policies - and many are close to the Greens'. Sydney's Catholic archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, and Greens leader Bob Brown were  at loggerheads yesterday over whether the Greens are anti-Christian (Pell) or more Christian than Pell (Brown).  But the church's broad aims in areas such as the environment, overseas aid, equal pay, asylum seekers and migrants are not far apart.  In its election statement, the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference refused to endorse any party or candidate, but identified what the bishops see as the vital issues.