By Jim Wallace, ACL Managing Director
Following a frenetic federal election campaign, the results are still uncertain, with the lead changing as final counting is completed and our heading for the first hung parliament Australia has experienced in 70 years.
Tony Abbott is to be congratulated on his achievement in bringing the Coalition to such a competitive position, but there will be many days of vote counting and negotiations ahead before either he or Julia Gillard will know who will lead the nation. For Christians it is an important time to pray and ask that a Godly influence be brought to bear on whichever side of politics is ultimately in a position to claim victory.
are saying, we may have to wait up to 10 days to learn whether Labor or Coalition will be able to form government with the support of independent and Greens MPs.
The outcome is certainly not predictable, even though three of the independents are in seats formerly held by the National Party and ideologically these MPs tend towards the conservative side. But all three (who in the past have had some divisions with the National Party) are making it clear that their allegiance is up in the air, and the broadband policy of both parties is sure to be a feature in negotiations with these rural independents. The new Greens MP for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, has made clear his support for Labor. The ‘knife-edge’
result of voting in the West Australian seat of Hasluck could also greatly influence the outcome.
One factor that will greatly impact the character of the new parliament , although not unexpected, is what Greens’ leader Bob Brown is calling a ‘Greenslide’
. The Greens will clearly hold the balance of power in the Senate from July next year, with Mr Brown claiming his party will end up holding nine seats in the Senate in total – this includes the lead candidate in NSW Lee Rhiannon (who proudly hails from a communist family) taking a Senate seat with the help of Sex Party preferences.
Obviously the Greens are relishing their increased position of power but there are some real concerns for the community here when you consider the party’s radical social agenda and their unwillingness to subject these social policies to Christian scrutiny when it came to replying to the ACL’s questions to political parties. Even in the last couple of days, the new Greens Member for Melbourne has listed support for same-sex marriage as one of his top issues, whereas this was one of the questions the Greens declined to respond to with our questionnaire.
Among other election results that may be of interest to Christians is the fact that, sadly, Liberal Senator Guy Barnett – a champion of Christian issues in Parliament over many years – appears unlikely to retain his Tasmanian seat which is tipped to go to Labor following a significant swing to Labor in that State.
Commentators are also indicating that Family First senator Steve Fielding appears likely to have lost his place, although there is a possibility that John Madigan from the socially-conservative Democratic Labor Party may pick up a Victorian Senate seat (following a Senate absence of 36 years).
Meanwhile in South Australia, two men of faith – Family First’s Bob Day and Liberals’ David Fawcett appear to be battling it out for the sixth Senate spot in that State. Elsewhere Family First hasn’t fared so well, although it has recorded a slight swing in first preferences to achieve 2.20 per cent of the vote while the Christian Democratic Party recorded 0.67 per cent.
There have also of course been many other permeations from the election results which I have not canvassed here – some of which will become clearer as counting continues.
Regardless of the final outcome, one particularly encouraging aspect of the 2010 federal election has been the willingness with which both sides of politics engaged with the Christian constituency. This is something we hope will continue as a new minority government is formed.