ACL has held its final two candidates’ forums for the NSW election this week in Lake Macquarie and Wollongong.

Thank you to all the wonderful church leaders and ACL volunteers who helped organise and run candidates’ forums.

Some highlights from the last two forums are below.

Lake Macquarie

Candidates answered a range of questions including Australia’s Christian heritage, indigenous welfare, same-sex couple adoption, youth and drugs, decriminalisation of abortion, and same-sex marriage.

The meeting was attended by Independent MP Greg Piper, Greens candidate Charmian Eckersley and Christian Democratic Party candidate, Kim Gritten.  ALP candidate Marcus Mariani had to pull out at the last minute to attend to a family emergency.

Asked about recent changes to adoption law that allow same-sex couples to adopt, Ms Eckersley (Greens) said that gender should not be a ‘barrier’ to relationships or people being allowed to adopt.

Greg Piper (Ind) told the meeting, “I didn’t go into parliament to deal with these issues,” but nevertheless voted for the legislation.  He described the decision to support the bill as a difficult one but said it was an “anomaly” that same-sex attracted people could already adopt as individuals but not as couples.

Kim Gritten (CDP) said same-sex adoption did not reflect “God’s model for the family.”

When asked if candidates would support the decriminalisation of abortion, Ms Eckersley (Greens) replied, “No secrets on that one.  Of course I would.”

On same-sex marriage, Mr Piper (Ind) said that while he believed same-sex marriage was inevitable, he was uncomfortable with the idea.  While he had no problem with ensuring that same-sex couples received the same entitlements as heterosexual couples, he believed that marriage was something between a man and a woman.

Wollongong

In Wollongong, candidates addressed a similar range of questions.

Greens candidate, Brendan Cook declared, “The Greens position on abortion is that it should be removed from the criminal code.”  While Liberal Candidate, Michelle Blicavs said, “every life is very important from the time of conception.

Clarence Pratt (CDP) said all people, “should be given legal protection at all stages of conception.”

Independent candidate and Uniting Church Minister, Rev Gordon Bradbery said he believed, “at times there needs to be a termination.  I don’t live in the ideal world that everybody else seems to.

“I am not happy [with abortion].  I do not want it.”  But he said he was concerned for women’s health and did not want to see so-called “backyard abortions” taking place.

Meanwhile Wollongong MP, Noreen Hay (ALP) told the gathering, “I do not agree with abortion.  I do not support abortion...  Abstinence is what I would recommend.”

On euthanasia, Ms Hay (ALP) said, “I would not support it...  I believe the decision [to end life] should be left to God,” and described legalising euthanasia as opening up, “a can of worms”.

Rev Bradbery expressed his concern about euthanasia describing it as, “heading down the path of being manipulated and distorted.”  He called for more funding for palliative care.

Mr Pratt (CDP), a medical doctor who runs a small palliative care practice, expressed similar concerns.

Ms Blicavs (Lib) believed, “there’s a time to be born and a time to die.  That decision should be made by God.”  While Greens candidate Brendan Cook said euthanasia was a “very complex policy...  The Greens support euthanasia.  I support euthanasia.”  Asked about the need to close brothels, Mr Cook said brothels were like any other workplace.

Ms Blicavs (Lib) told the meeting that while she valued the lives of female sex-workers, “it is not a legitimate career path.”  Meanwhile Rev Bradbery said brothels should be regulated and supervised properly.  He also told the meeting there was no need for a Kings Cross style injecting room in Wollongong.

Asked if candidates would support state-based same-sex marriage laws, Brendan Cook (Greens) said he did not believe that sexuality was “a life style choice.”  The Greens, he said, are “active and enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage.”

Ms Blicavs (Lib) told the gathering she did not believe in same-sex marriage and congratulated Labor MP Noreen Hay for voting against the recent same-sex adoption bill.

Rev Bradbery said he did not “necessarily” support same-sex marriage but said, “there needs to be an opportunity for people in same-sex relationships [to] formalise their commitment.”

Labor MP Noreen Hay concluded the evening saying, “I don’t and won’t support gay marriage.”