Candidates connect with Christian voters at Yan Yean Meet Your Candidate Forum

Las night Danielle Green MP (ALP) and Sam Ozturk (Lib) attended the ACL Yan Yean Candidates Forum held at St John's Anglican Church, Diamond Creek.

Yan Yean is Victoria's most marginal seat, equal with Wendouree.

Danielle spoke engagingly of her Catholic upbringing and her connection to the electorate that she has served as an MP for 12 years, most notably through the bushfires. In particular she spoke of the contribution of the churches in the community.

Sam spoke of the Liberal Party's commitment to Freedom of religion as demonstrated by its support for the freedom of Christian Schools and religious bodies to employ according to their faith and ethos.

The candidates in replying to questions on abortion took different approaches. Sam Ozturk said that he shared the questioner's concerns about late term abortion. Danielle Green said that the current law was passed after extensive consultation and that the number of abortions post 22 weeks is sometimes exaggerated. She said that she considers this a matter for a women and her doctor but noted that, in the ALP, abortion is a matter for a conscience vote.

In response to questions about Special Religious Instruction, Danielle Green noted that more than half of Labor's front bench went to Catholic schools. She said that it is important that SRI instructors are well trained and accredited so that SRI can be broadly supported.

Sam Ozturk said that the Coalition was very supportive of SRI and had this week promised $2 million funding for Access Ministries.

When questioned about the ALP's proposed reinstatement of the "inherent requirement of the role" test to be applied to Christian Schools when they seek to prefer staff who support their faith and ethos, the answers differed greatly.

Danielle Green said that she supported the changes to the Equal Opportunity Act in 2010 when the ALP originally inserted the inherent requirement test. She said that this test was supported by the Catholic church. She said that this struck the right balance between freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination, particularly when Christian schools were taking taxpayer money.

She stated that the ALP had just pledged $120 million to independent schools (including Catholic schools) in high growth areas.

Sam Ozturk said that the reinstatement of the "inherent requirement of the role" test would lead to litigation against schools. He said that he personally and the Coalition support the current law which allows Christian schools to employ according to an applicant's adherence to faith and ethos.

In responding to a question on chaplaincy, Danielle Green said that she did not support the "playing off" of welfare workers against chaplaincy. She said she didn't support the current chaplaincy model.

Sam Ozturk indicated his personal support and the Liberal Party's support for the current chaplaincy program.

The Forum was closed in prayer by Senior Minister Tim Johnson, St John's Anglican Church.

The Forum was an excellent opportunity for church members from the electorate to meet, question and understand the candidates.

ACL thanks Danielle Green and Sam Ozturk for making the time to attend. Daniel Sacchero (The Greens) was an understandable apology due to his father’s surgery on the day of the Forum.