Candidates James Merlino MP (ALP), Mark Verschuur (Liberal), Mike Clarke (The Greens) and Jennifer McAdam (Animal Justice Party) made a strong connection with the Christian constituents in Monbulk on Tuesday 11 November.
The forum was hosted by Rev. Andrew Fisher at Belgrave South Baptist Church.
All candidates spoke of their own Christian education and faith.
James Merlino, the deputy leader of the ALP, spoke about his positive engagement with the Australian Christian Lobby both in his time around the Cabinet table and later in Shadow Cabinet
The discussion ranged form transport to industry with a strong focus in the education sector.
Education issues ranged from principal autonomy to funding and the TAFE sector.
Pointed questions were asked in relation to the ALP's proposed policy of limiting a Christian School's capacity to employ staff by applying a test of whether the faith or religious practice is an inherent requirement of the role.
There was much conjecture about the effect of the "inherent requirement of the role" restriction tin practice.
James Merlino asserted that this test would not effect the employment of a teacher in a Christian school where faith is an integral part of the life of the school. Mark Verschuur countered with a quote from the then CEO of the Equal Rights and Human Rights Commission in 2009, Dr Helen Szoke that "the roles of religious education teacher or a chaplain in a religious school would pass the test and could be required to share the school's religious beliefs, but in the case of office staff or the maths teacher, it will need to be made explicit how religion is relevant to the job" Mark Verschuur affirmed that the Coalition was committed to maintaining the capacity of Christian schools to employ according to their faith.
In the context of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the candidates were asked how they would vote to protect children before birth. James Merlino recounted his vote against the Abortion law as a matter of conscience in 2008 and his vote on amendments that would ban partial birth abortion, including his amendment seeking to allowing a doctor a right not to refer for abortion.
Both Mark Verscheer and Mike Clarke indicated that they did not support late term abortion.
There was agreement that adoption laws in Victoria ought to be eased.
All candidates expressed support for the continuation of Special Religious Instruction.