The first ACL Candidates forum for this election was held  last night, it was attended by a small but interested crowd drawn from local churches in the electorate of Hastings, south east of Melbourne.

All four candidates made their case for the Christian vote, while at the same time sharing something of their personal journey. It was remarked last night that those in the audience possibly had a better knowledge and insight into the candidates than the average voter!

Issues raised by the audience included questions about local issues such as development of industry in Westernport, law and order and a bitumen plant at Crib Point. More broadly questions arose about abortion (more on that later), a lack of respect for authority, employment opportunities, gay marriage, global warming, planning overrides by the government and heroin injecting rooms.

With Liberal (sitting Member Neale Burgess), ALP (Steve Hosking), Greens (Catherine Manning), and DLP (Rob Jones) seated comfortably behind tables, these issues were discussed in an enthusiastic and respectful atmosphere. When controversial issues were opened up, this is where the differences became clearer. Greens supported the current abortion law while wishing for fewer abortions, the ALP supported the party line but admitted to being personally conflicted on the issue. Both the Liberal and DLP opposed the law as it allows for no freedom of conscience for doctors, abortion at any time during pregnancy and no protection for women.

Gay (same-sex) marriages again proved to be a point of difference with only the Green candidate supporting a change in this law.

Three more forums this week, Wednesday in Frankston, Thursday in Bayswater and Mordialloc electorates. Ten more next week!  Click on the “Candidate Forum Events” button for full details.