[caption id="" align="alignright" width="231" caption="Premier Kristina Keneally addresses Christian leaders"]Premier Kristina Keneally address the Christian leaders[/caption]

Media Release

Tuesday 15th February

The Australian Christian Lobby tonight welcomed commitments by Premier Kristina Keneally and Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell to preserve protections for religious freedom for churches, Christian organisations and Christian schools under anti-discrimination law.

ACL NSW Director David Hutt said churches like political parties were keen to retain the freedom to preserve their ethos through employing people who share their values.

The leaders were speaking at the first NSW Make it Count election forum with leaders from NSW churches at the NSW Parliament last night.

However, Mr Hutt expressed disappointment that both leaders avoided the substance of specific questions put to them by the leaders on ethics classes being run in competition with Special Religious Education.

“No one is against ethics being taught in schools but we believe all students should have the opportunity to participate in these classes and that they should not be run in competition with scripture classes, something which was pointed out again to both leaders,” Mr Hutt said.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="230" caption="Opposition leader Barry O'Farrell takes the stage"][/caption]

Mr Hutt welcomed Ms Keneally's commitment on behalf of Labor that the Party would not introduce legislation to decriminalise abortion and also Mr O’Farrell’s that the Coalition had no plans to remove further protections for the unborn.

"Christian schools, charities and churches have seen religious freedom threatened by recent changes to equal opportunity laws in Victoria and it was heartening tonight to hear both leaders commit to retaining protections for religious freedom in NSW,” Mr Hutt said.

Both leaders said they would not trade away with the Greens commitments made tonight in order to gain power in the event of a hung Parliament.

Mr Hutt said he was also disappointed that both the Premier and the Opposition Leader refused to agree to earlier closing times for licensed premises as a way of reducing alcohol fuelled violence.

Mre than 130 leaders attended the Make it Count event tonight which was video-taped and the footage will be placed on ACL’s NSWvotes.org.au website in coming days and heavily promoted amongst the Christian constituency.