The Christian voting constituency in Australia is a large percentage of the Australian population. Matters of public policy that are of concern to Christians span both the Left and Right of the political divide.

For several years, ACL has put policy questions to political parties in federal, state, and territory elections. The questions reflect a broad range of topics of interest to Christians, and also include specific issues of concern to ACL supporters.

ACL seeks to inform voters so that they can vote carefully on 11 March 2017 in Western Australia.

Click on a + topic below to expand the question and compare the parties' answers.

The number of indigenous youth suicides has reached an alarming rate. Last year, the WA Parliament conducted an inquiry on this issue to determine what steps should be taken to improve the mental health of youth within indigenous communities.  The report contained several recommendations to help indigenous youth.

What initiatives will your party be seeking to implement to address this issue in the next parliament?

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

• Give students the opportunity to strive for something – implement a program that is goal oriented and driven by each student
• Ban / reduce alcohol availability within certain communities.
• Give children and young people an opportunity to build a strong cultural identity within their community by parenting with mentors and programs that promote positive lifestyle choices.
• Further resource services such as lifeline and other support services that can assist students anonymously is needed.

Labor

A McGowan Labor Government believes that any action to address Aboriginal youth suicide must be led by Aboriginal communities themselves, with full support and consultation from Government.

The Parliamentary Inquiry from 2016 was initiated w hen WA Labor Member for the Kimberley Josie Farrer MLA called for such an inquiry, saying Parliament needed "to determine what more can be done to halt the worrying number of youth suicides among Aboriginal youth in WA," and "define exactly what has been tried, what hasn't worked and what has." 

Ms Farrer's colleagues were disappointed that the call for an inquiry was initially dismissed by the Liberal Aboriginal Affairs Minister, however, an enquiry was held and it reported in November 2016. 

The Committee's report had 44 recommendations covering many portfolio areas and recommending actions across Government.

It was clear from the report that any action from Government must be across portfolios, coordinated, holistic and above, all in partnership with local Aboriginal communities. 

WA Labor has a policy to break down the barriers between Government departments to ensure a more holistic approach to issues like this that require a cross-portfolio plan. This will underpin our approach in Government to the heartbreaking issue of Aboriginal youth suicide.

Josie Farrer's work on the Kimberley Alternative Juvenile Justice Working Group, which led to her call for the parliamentary inquiry, released a report in 2014 proposing much needed improvements to the current Kimberley youth justice system. 

A McGowan Labor Government will allocate $1 .2 million over 4 years for the implementation of the 'Improving the Juvenile Justice System, Framework.' 

The parliamentary report also highlighted the importance of culture and of improving health, education and employment opportunities for Aboriginal people. 

WA Labor is committed to improving the health and welfare of aboriginal people by focusing on improving education and economic opportunities and delivering appropriate health services. The Royalties for Regions program has focused largely on infrastructure and less on the social and economic welfare of regional people, including indigenous communities. WA Labor will keep the Royalties for Regions funding and improve it by focusing on the priorities of the people living in the regions, including creating local jobs in a range of industries. 

There is still an unacceptable educational gap between indigenous and non-indigenous students in terms of academic achievement, attendance and retention levels. 

Direct support and action addressing literacy, attendance, participation and behaviour management in schools must be put in place to support the schooling of aboriginal children. 

WA Labor appreciates the opportunity to hear the concerns of your organisation and to communicate our views to your members.

Liberal Party

Aboriginal people have been identified as a priority in the State Government’s Suicide Prevention 2020 strategy.
The Liberal National Government dedicated $25.9 million over four years in the 2015 State Budget to suicide prevention.
As part of a $3.5 million initiative to boost crisis support, seven Suicide Prevention Coordinators have been appointed across the state, including the Kimberley (the Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service - through WA Country Health Service – are receiving funding over a three year period for a suicide prevention coordinator for the Kimberley).
The Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service and Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services work in partnership to deliver culturally appropriate mental health services across the Kimberley. This includes a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist to focus on youth in the Kimberley.
Late last year, members of the Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention visited the Kimberley providing an opportunity for key stakeholders to provide feedback about current issues being experienced in the Kimberley.
In addition $296,500 in Suicide Prevention Grants was provided in July last year to local government and registered not for-profit organisations to implement suicide prevention training specific to Aboriginal communities. The recent round of suicide prevention grants provided $145,000 to organisations in the Kimberley for suicide prevention training including emotional and social wellbeing training. Of the funding provided, a total of $93,000 has been allocated to training with Aboriginal people to strengthen communities and help reduce instances of suicide.
The State Government has also provided $29 million funding for the Specialist Aboriginal Mental Health Service (SSAMHS), which supports Aboriginal people with severe mental illness and their families in a culturally appropriate way.
SSAMHS aims to improve access to culturally appropriate mental health services for Aboriginal people and their families; build the capacity of the Aboriginal mental health workforce; develop and maintain interagency partnership aimed at the development of a more holistic approach to Aboriginal mental health care; and to the improve the cultural understanding and functioning of the mental health service.
SSAMHS was recently provided with an additional $10 million for 2017-18

 

.

 

 

 

 

Wicked Campers has received considerable attention for objectifying women with offensive and violent slogans and artwork on its rental vans. The Queensland Government has introduced legislation to enforce decisions by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) with the result that Queensland vehicles that do not comply with ASB decisions will be deregistered. The legislation is now before committee.

Will your party commit to ridding our roads of offensive advertising? 

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

Yes, and also keep the media accountable to the types of ads that air during key TV times and radio slots.

Labor

WA Labor believes people should not be subjected to sexist, racist or other offensive material in the public domain, such as on vehicles.

The Advertising Standards Bureau receives a number of complaints every year about Wicked Camper slogans painted onto vehicles; however efforts to enforce ASB rulings have so far been ineffective.


The Queensland Government introduced the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) (Offensive Advertising) Amendment Bill 2016 in November 2016 and recently passed the legislation. WA Labor will monitor this legislation once it comes into force to see if it proves
an effective means of controlling the slogans on Wicked Campers that are considered offensive. Questions have been raised in relation to vans registered in other states so we will monitor how effective it is in that regard also. 


Some actions aimed at changing Wicked Campers' behaviour are more consumer driven and may prove to be useful for organisations and local governments. For example, the recent decision by organisers of the Gold Coast Splendour in the Grass music festival to tell campers that vans with offensive slogans were not welcome, and the attempts in Tasmania to ban the campervans from local government operated caravan parks on the East Coast are aimed at making customers aware that they may not be welcome in some places if they hire a Wicked Camper. WA Labor in government would interested in exploring what options may be available to address this issue.

Liberal Party

The Advertising Standards Bureau and Advertising Standards Board were established “…to give voice to consumer values and guide industry in maintaining decent, honest advertising aligning with prevailing community values.” They are the established bodies that determine whether advertising is offensive and where judged not to be the case take action.
The Liberal Party acknowledges the Bureau and Board having the appropriate mechanisms to arbitrate advertising content.

 

.

 

 

 

 

Currently under the Prostitution Act and the Criminal Code, most prostitution related activities are illegal. However, like the laws in many common law jurisdictions, the act of prostitution in itself is not an offence.

There is a strong correlation between prostitution and the increase in sex trafficking, the operation of illegal brothels and under-age prostitution, and to higher rates of other types of organized crime.

Will your party commit to supporting the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry into:

a)      The suitability of the Nordic-approach which focuses law enforcement on the purchaser in the WA context; and 

b)     The feasibility of State-funded exit-programs focusing on those wanting to escape prostitution? 

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

Yes. AC supports the Nordic Model. 

Labor

Prostitution has been a vexed issue for Government for many years. The Liberal Government introduced a Bill which allowed prostitution to be legalised in certain areas. The Liberal Government's Bill was introduced into Parliament but never debated due to the inability of the Liberal Government to ensure support from its own Members. WA Labor did not support this bill.

Calls from certain quarters to adopt the so-called "Nordic Model" to control prostitution bears further investigation, however serious doubts have been raised by some researchers that this model simply drives the trade underground, creating more danger for sex workers. WA Labor has no plans to change the current laws.

Liberal Party

Did not answer.

 

.

 

 

 

 

Media attention has been given to controversial school programs that focus on gender identity and provide controversial approaches towards gender such as teaching children that a person who is born biologically male might feel like they are a man, or they might feel like they are a woman.

What is your party’s position on education programs that teach children that gender is socially constructed? 

Will your party fund such programs? 

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

AC is against any program that seeks to enforce a certain view or mindset. 

Labor

WA Labor is committed to supporting our schools and teaching staff to provide the best education possible for our children.

We are also confident in the professional judgement of our educators in determining the most suitable evidence-based programs for use in schools.

All individual schools make the decision themselves based on the professional expertise of the educators about whether the Respectful Relationships program is suitable for their school. The guidelines of the program look to the strengths of school communities to create
teaching and learning environments where all members feel and are safe from discrimination, bullying and harassment related to their sexuality or gender.

Liberal Party

Did not answer.

 

.

 

 

 

 

Drugs such as ICE are wreaking havoc in our communities. Some groups advocate an approach that would see the individual use of illegal drugs falling outside the criminal framework by applying a system of civil sanctions for personal use of illicit drugs. 

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

Yes.

Labor

A McGowan Labor Government will implement a State-wide, coordinated and targeted Methamphetamine Action Plan (MAP) focussed on three key areas to reduce demand, reduce harm and reduce supply. 

WA Labor will work with experts and stakeholders on early targeted prevention, better treatment services and effective withdrawal services. The MAP will build on what is currently seen as best practice, providing education, training, rehabilitation, coordination and research.

There will be more focus on breaking the cycle of drug related crime in our community by ensuring that there is a focus on rehabilitation in prisons with a specialised treatment and withdrawal services. This does not involve the removal of illicit drug possession laws from the Criminal Code. 

WA Labor also announced that meth traffickers will face a maximum life sentence in prison in a plan to cut the supply in WA. The flow on effects of methamphetamine use are devastating and will not be solved by prosecution alone. We need to ensure that equal emphasis is given to reducing both the demand and the harm caused by methamphetamines.

Liberal Party

The toughest penalties in Australia for dealers, compulsory treatment and a massive investment in rehabilitation are the centrepieces of a $190 million suite of strategies a re-elected Liberal Government will deliver to combat meth. This includes
Mandatory jail terms for dealing, continue successful WA Police Meth Teams, more prosecutors, judges and magistrates, expand powers for Police and the DPP to dismantle the operations of high level dealers:
More rehab beds, compulsory rehabilitation facilities and services, more specialist drug and alcohol nurses in emergency departments and more drug treatment programs
This plan reflects public sentiment that people have had enough of meth-fuelled crime and families are desperate to get their sons and daughters off the drug.
This is a tough, strong and measured approach to disrupting supply and reducing the demand for the most insidious drug destroying lives, families and communities.
Under the plan, anyone caught dealing even small quantities of meth would face a mandatory prison term. Time behind bars would be between one and 15 years depending on the quantity meth offenders are caught trying to peddle.
Ninety four million dollars will be invested in an additional 85 rehabilitation beds across the State, a compulsory drug treatment centre and a range of support services for addicts and their families.
If re-elected a Liberal Government will commit $88 million to a host of measures to stop meth getting to our streets. These include:

  • Mandatory minimum prison terms between one – 15 years for dealing meth
  • $23 million for the WA Police Meth Teams
  • $30 million for additional prosecutors, magistrates and judges
  • $35 million for two new wings at Casuarina Prison
  • $200,000 for dedicated MethStoppers line, run by CrimeStoppers.
  • The intervention and rehabilitation package targets everyone from first time users to long term addicts.

This includes:

  • $20 million for 85 additional rehabilitation beds across WA taking the number to 145
  • $39 million to establish compulsory rehabilitation facility and services
  • Meth intervention orders for first time minor possession
  • Rehabilitation orders for second time minor possession
  • $26 million for prison drug treatment programs
  • $2 million for drug and alcohol nurses in hospital emergency departments
  • $1 million to the Next Step meth treatment clinic
  • $4 million for home based clinical and withdrawal services
  • $0.9 million to the Meth Helpline
  • $1 million for a trial mentoring and peer-non clinical support for addicts and families in crisis

It will create diversion programs and compulsory rehabilitation orders for minor possession charges to try and get users off the drug and away from the justice system.
A further $8 million will be committed to educating the community about the dangers of meth.

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

Given the evidence that poker machines harm our community, causing poverty and contributing to family violence, will your party implement the recommendation of the Productivity Commission and mandate $1 bets in the casino in Western Australia?

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

Did not answer.

Labor

WA Labor is concerned about the effect problem gambling can have on Western Australians and their families.

The Productivity Commission's recommendations from its 2010 report referred only to $1 bets on electronic gaming machines, not other forms of gambling. 

The implementation of a mandated $1 bet limit on electronic gaming machines by an individual state government, without an Australia-wide action is also problematic without the cooperation of gaming machine manufacturers.

In 2016, Wesfarmers attempted to institute a trial of $1 bets on the 3,069 gaming machines in the 89 hotels owned by the company in Queensland. However, they were not able to conduct this trial as the gaming machine manufacturers refused to alter the machines,
arguing that there needs to be whole of industry approach before they would manufacture new machines or alter existing machines to limit them to $1 bets. Clearly a $1 bet limit can only be achieved with the Commonwealth Government leading and cooperation from all states, especially those where, unlike Western Australia, gaming machines are widespread. 

WA Labor will maintain the current ban on poker machines

 

Liberal Party

The Western Australian Liberal-led Government does not support the introduction of poker machines into Western Australia.

 

.

 

 

 

 

Every year in Western Australia a number babies are subjected to abortion procedures only to be born alive after the abortion procedure has failed.  The trauma on the Mothers and Babies from these incidents is significant.

Will your party support an enquiry to investigate what reforms are required to ensure that all prematurely born babies receive equal access to care and treatment? 

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

Yes. And AC also calls for more accountability and reporting on the true statistics of abortion rates. 

Labor

WA Labor supports current laws of pregnancy terminations, which includes additional requirements in Section 334(7) of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911 around terminations after 20 weeks.

There is still a concern around reliable data in relation to terminations undertaken in Australia. WA Labor is in favour of accurate information being the basis of public debate and to inform Government decisions.

The Senate recommendation that Australian Health Ministers "work with the National Perinatal Data Development Committee and other key stakeholders to ensure that, across all States and Territories, comprehensive uniform data is provided to the NMDS" is worthy of support and WA Labor would work with other States towards comprehensive and uniform data being collected across Australia.

Liberal Party

The termination of pregnancy is set out in the WA Health Act. The Act requires that before a greater than 20 week pregnancy can be terminated there must be a clinical diagnosis of a serious medical condition affecting the health of either the mother or the baby. The decision to approve a late termination of pregnancy at King Edward Memorial Hospital is based on input from the multi-disciplinary team of medical practitioners involved in caring for the mother.

 

 

 

 

 

Euthanasia involves the deliberate taking of a person’s life and assisted suicide makes a person complicit in the deliberate death of another. Any legalisation of Euthanasia fundamentally changes the relationship between a patient and their doctor. The trust between a patient and a doctor is eroded when doctors assume the conflicting roles of both healers and arrangers of death. There have been recent calls for the legalisation of Euthanasia and assisted suicide in Western Australia.

What is your party’s position on the legalisation of Euthanasia and assisted suicide? 

Does your party plan to introduce any Euthanasia legislation in the next term of Parliament? 

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

Against any bill that seeks to take a life. No intention to introduce legislation.  

Labor

WA Labor allows Members to exercise a conscience vote on voluntary euthanasia and so we will not be asking Members to vote any one particular way on this issue. 

Any debate in Parliament on voluntary euthanasia for terminally ill people should be part of a wider community debate. If the issue comes before Parliament and Members have not already formed a position, they will seek views from all sections of the electorate and carefully consider those views before deciding on their voting position. Any Bill that came forward would be a Private Members Bill and not sponsored by WA Labor.

 

Liberal Party

Euthanasia is a personal matter and when raised in the Parliament has been a matter for individual members to consider.

Most recently, the Legislative Council of the WA Parliament debated this matter in 2010, when a Private Members Bill was sponsored by Hon Robin Chapple MLC.  The Bill was voted down 24 to 11 after extensive debate, with a range of concerns being expressed by those opposing it, including:

  • that euthanasia for pain and suffering is unnecessary given rapid advances in palliative care and pain control;
  • that appropriate care decisions are best left to the clinical judgment of medical practitioners;
  • that access to euthanasia might diminish research into palliative care and pain control; and
  • doubts about the inability of legislation to limit the creep of euthanasia to other classes of non-suffering, non-dying persons.

In the previous 15 years three other attempts had been made to introduce euthanasia laws in this State, and all failed for similar reasons.  

 

 

 

 

 

Good quality palliative care is the compassionate response to those needing medical treatment and care towards the end of their life, people in such a position are often some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Palliative care is concerned with caring for and accompanying, a dying person and his or her family or carers in the closing phase of life.

Will your party support the implementation of policies that increase services and delivery of palliative? 

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

Yes. AC does not believe in euthanasia as a means to cope with pain. We want WA to have the best palliative care in the country. 

Labor

WA Labor's plan for health will put patients first because patients and patient outcomes arewhat matter most.

WA Labor recognises that all Western Australians regardless of age, gender or condition who are diagnosed with a life-limiting illness deserve to receive the best possible palliative care.

WA Labor supports models of care that allow people to receive palliative treatment in the best possible setting at the end of their life.
Workforce shortages in palliative settings should be addressed and WA Labor will work towards addressing these issues by supporting training and development of our current medical and allied health clinicians.

Liberal Party

Following the provision of election commitment funding in 2008/9 and 2012/13 the WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network has developed a wide range of programs and services to improve palliative care in the state. These programs and services are available in metropolitan, rural and remote areas and they aim to strengthen the provision of high quality care at end of life across all health settings.

In 2015, WA Health commenced the introduction of a range of targeted initiatives to complement existing programs and services. The End of Life Framework is the overarching framework for this work, and is led by the Chief Medical Officer. 

The Framework enables best-practice care for patients and their families or carers at the end of life, commencing when they are first diagnosed with a life limiting illness. It includes four stages - advancing disease; increasing decline; last days of life; and death and bereavement. Importantly, the Framework supports health professionals in this essential and inevitable aspect of their work.

 

 

 

 

 

A recent House of Representatives inquiry into the regulatory and legislative aspects of international and domestic surrogacy arrangements recommended that the practice of commercial surrogacy remain prohibited in Australia. This recommendation was informed by the view that, even with the best of regulatory intentions, there is still significant potential for the exploitation of women and children.

Will your party commit to uphold the ban on commercial surrogacy in Western Australia? 

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

Yes – commercial surrogacy should not be implemented in WA.  

Labor

WA Labor will not seek to repeal or amend the Surrogacy Act 2008.

Should a Bill on this matter be introduced in Parliament and debated, Members will be able
to consider all aspects of whatever the Bill contains and vote according to their conscience.

Liberal Party

Did not answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief is a fundamental human right. State based anti-discrimination law in Australia provides exceptions or exemptions as a method of protecting religious freedom. Unfortunately, some in our community misunderstand this approach and consider religious freedom as a concession, or special pleading to the right to non-discrimination.

Religious exemptions or exceptions in anti-discrimination law are important because they act as protections for the fundamental right to religious freedom, for example, they allow Christian ministries and schools the freedom to employ staff who have a commitment to the religious views and mission of the organisation.

 

a)      Does your party support religious freedom protections afforded by current anti-discrimination exemptions? 

b)      Does your party have any plans for reform or change to anti-discrimination law? 

ACL has made submissions to government inquires on a Commonwealth and State level arguing that any future reforms to anti-discrimination law should protect religious freedom through a general limitations clause rather than exemptions. The objective of a limitations clause is to ensure that the fundamental right to religious freedom is not considered a concession, or some kind of special pleading to anti-discrimination law.

c)       What is your party’s position on a limitations clause?

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

A) Yes – ministers of religion, and others are entitled to say NO. 
B) AC will be fighting against any amendments that seek to remove a clause that protects pastors and others. 
C) Did not answer.

Labor

WA Labor has no plans to amend current anti-discrimination law and believes the current provision for exceptions is sufficient to allow for particular religious groups.


It is a reality of the make-up of societies that some sections of a community will not have the depth of legal knowledge to fully understand the intricate workings of legislation and will misunderstand the current anti-discrimination law as it applies to religious groups. WA Labor does not believe that small sections of a community 'misunderstanding' a law is necessarily grounds to change the law.

Liberal Party

Did not answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief is a fundamental human right. Australia’s same-sex marriage activists have been saying for years that same-sex marriage does not affect other peoples’ freedoms, yet we have seen anti-discrimination law in a number of Australian states being wielded in a way that threatens freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief.

General Practitioner Dr David van Gend was forced to attend mediation after saying children deserve a mother and father, and Tasmanian Archbishop Julian Porteous had proceedings lodged against him for the booklet “Don’t mess with Marriage”.

It is clear that state based anti-discrimination law will come into conflict with the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, if the definition of marriage is changed under Federal law.

What will your party do to ensure the fundamental freedoms of thought, conscience and religion or belief are protected under Western Australian Law?

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

Yes.

Labor

WA Labor values liberty - the freedom to hold whatever beliefs we choose while respecting
those of others; the freedom to express those beliefs without fear or favour; and the
economic freedom to pursue our own employment and enterprise.

WA Labor believes there are sufficient safeguards within current Western Australian law to
safeguard the freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief.

It should be noted that freedoms are always balanced within a society. For example the
freedom to smoke is balanced against the right to breathe clean air.

Some religions mandate that their followers engage in the conversion of non-believers, so if
that belief is practiced as harassment, intimidation or an invasion of privacy, then clearly that
religious freedom needs to be balanced against others' rights. Similarly, if an expression of
belief seeks to demonise a particular minority, becomes hate speech or an incitement to
violence, then those expressions of belief would be tested under current law should an
action be initiated by a particular person or group.

Liberal Party

Did not answer.

 

.

 

 

 

The Safe Schools Coalition teaches “queer theory”, which includes teaching children that gender exists outside the male/female binary and that gender is socially constructed. One of the founders of the program has stated that safe schools is not about stopping bullying but about promoting gender and sexual diversity. The Safe Schools website lists 29 Western Australian educational institutions, including primary schools, that have joined as members. The research justifying the program has been discredited by University of Sydney Professor Patrick Parkinson.

Will your party commit to removing this highly controversial and sexualised program from all Western Australian Schools? 

Party

Answer

Australian Christians 

Yes, AC’s opposes any program that seeks to promote Gender Dysphoria. AC also believes this program discriminates against conservative parents and children, and hence should be replaced by program that promotes the health and well-being of all students

Labor

WA Labor is committed to supporting our schools and teaching staff provide the best education possible for our children.

We are disappointed at the Liberal National Government's cuts to school budgets and the numbers of education assistants available to help our children.

WA Labor will put more Education Assistants back into classrooms and provide more teaching support.

We are also confident in the professional judgement of our educators in determining the most suitable evidence-based programs for use in schools.

If the Federal Government withdraws funding , WA Labor will provide funding to allow those public secondary schools to choose to use the Safe schools program that meets their school's needs. WA Labor is not following the Victorian model. We will not mandate the program for all schools. We will respect the choice made by public secondary schools to decide in consultation with their school community, whether all or part of the Safe Schools program is right for their school.

WA Labor supports the review of the Safe Schools program content by respected WA academic Professor Bill Louden, which amended the program's content based on educational expertise.

Liberal Party

In Western Australia, school membership and engagement with the SSCA program is voluntary, and all the services and resources are used at the discretion of each school.  The program developed by SSCA is not endorsed or mandated by the Department of Education.  Schools have the flexibility to choose resources that best suit the context of their teaching and learning programs.  It is worth noting that of over 1,100 public and non-government schools in Western Australia, only 29 have registered with the SSCA on their website.