Media Release: Wednesday, 14th November, 2007

A new public policy magazine launched today explores the influence of moral and social justice values on the Federal election campaign, while also debating the principles and future initiatives associated with some key election issues.

From the leader of Australia’s largest union and the Director of Economics at the Australian Chamber of Commerce arguing whether WorkChoices causes or addresses disadvantage, to unravelling the moral complexities of the ‘War on Terror’, the magazine aims to inform and challenge both present and future policy development.

Entitled Debate, the magazine is a joint initiative of the Australian Christian Lobby and Fine Line Design & Publishing. It is a quarterly, refereed publication targeted at Federal and State politicians, as well as bureaucrats, academics, and educational institutions.

“Debate aims to assess and critique public policy from a Christian perspective and thereby underpin a greater depth and diversity of policy development on key issues affecting our nation,” the magazine’s editor, David Yates, said today.

“We aim to generate timely debate and to inform policy makers about how a values based approach to developing policy may lead to a more moral, just and compassionate society.”

The first edition deals with a number of issues under the spotlight of the Federal election campaign, including industrial relations, the ‘War on Terror’, nuclear power, housing affordability, and the ‘values debate’. Complimentary copies are being sent to Federal and State politicians across Australia.

With the election now only 10 days away, Debate’s feature article looks at how much moral and social justice values are impacting the major parties’ election policies, as well as ideas for a way forward and the implications for Australia’s place in the world.  A range of expert articles then explore four significant topics:

Industrial Relations: (Michael Potter, Joe De Bruyn, Ray Evans)

Michael Potter from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry argues that “WorkChoices has been a success in promoting the wellbeing of the most disadvantaged Australians – those without jobs”. In contrast Joe de Bruyn from the Shop Distributive & Allied Employees Association argues that economic growth is possible without the WorkChoices legislation operating. He writes that “legislation which takes away the rights of workers, and gives employers the ability to reduce the earning capacity of workers, simply contributes to company profits. This does not contribute to the general wellbeing of the economy.” Ray Evans, a founder of the HR Nichols Society, takes a different tack as he looks at the labour market from an historical perspective and decries the encroachment of Federal power on the States.

The War on Terror: (Rod Lyon, Andrew Cameron)

Rod Lyon from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute states that the conflict in Iraq “is not part of the endgame of the War on Terror, but merely one of its opening rounds”. He writes that: “Australia, like many other countries, is still struggling to identify effective strategies with which to counter small-group, extremist threats.” In his opinion, whichever government comes to office, they will have “some strategic sorting out to do”. Andrew Cameron, a lecturer in ethics, philosophy and apologetics at Moore College, applies Christian ‘just war thinking’ to the Iraq conflict, asking if the war is just and allows pre-emption of a clear and present danger. He writes that “Government might need to consider the unpalatable prospect of rendering imperfect justice in response to terrorist events, precisely in order to find peaceful political resolution.”

Housing Affordability: (Bob Day, Tony Nicholson)

Bob Day, former president of the Housing Industry Association and the Liberal candidate for the Federal seat of Makin, writes that the long-standing nexus between house prices and incomes has been broken. He suggests three areas where major reform is needed in order to restore housing affordability, including new land release, infrastructure charges, and the planning and development approval process. Tony Nicholson, Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, writes that there is no single solution to the nation’s housing problems, but many solutions which must be pursued together. He puts forward several initiatives to address the problem and writes that “in contemporary Australia, the human right to housing isn’t met unless it facilitates full economic and social participation.”

Nuclear Power: (Ian Hore-Lacy, Gordon Preece)

Ian Hore-Lacy, an author, biologist and environmental scientist, argues in favour of nuclear power while Gordon Preece, an author and Executive Director of Urban Seed Melbourne, argues against it. Ian Hore-Lacy writes: “Civil nuclear power has not been the cause of or route to nuclear weapons in any country, and no uranium traded for electricity production has ever been diverted for military use.” By contrast, Gordon Preece writes: “The human factor causing the sinking of the Titanic and the Chernobyl nuclear incident cannot be completely eliminated.”

Debate editor David Yates is a former public servant and for the last three-and-a-half years was National Chief of Staff of the ACL.

The magazine’s publisher is Fine Line Design & Publishing, a graphic design and publishing business which has operated in Canberra for the past 12 years. Proprietor Tanya Hargraves said the new venture promises to break new ground in the area of public policy development and will be a valuable tool in furthering debate on important policy issues in a constructive and meaningful way.

Debate is available by subscription at The views expressed by the magazine’s contributors are aimed at sparking debate among policy makers and the broader community. They are not necessarily shared by the ACL or Fine Line Design & Publishing.

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan