Wednesday, 27th February, 2013

The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed commitments from both Premier Colin Barnett and Opposition Leader Mark McGowan to protect religious freedom in Western Australia.

Addressing more than 800 Christians at ACL’s Make it Count leaders’ forum in Perth last night, Mr McGowan said if elected he would not be changing anti-discrimination laws to diminish religious freedom.

Premier Barnett also reiterated his commitment to the freedom of Christian schools to employ staff who share its ethos.

Christians have been concerned about moves at the Federal level to water down religious freedom, despite it being a basic human right recognised by the United Nations.

Mr Barnett and Mr McGowan were asked 11 questions on subjects such as indigenous welfare, homelessness, marriage, the human rights of the unborn and the exposure of children to inappropriate images in outdoor advertising.

Both leaders pledged their support for school chaplaincy programs to continue.

On the issue of euthanasia Mr McGowan said he supported it for the “terminally ill”, distancing himself from Belgian laws which have recently allowed people without terminal illnesses to be killed.

Mr Barnett restated his opposition to euthanasia saying he did not want to see “a legal structure that established a framework for ending a life”.

Mr McGowan won support from the crowd for his pledge to make outdoor advertising G Rated, responding to widespread community concern about sexualised billboard advertising.

On the issue of legitimising the exploitation of women through legal brothels both leaders refused to commit to sending a Parliamentary delegation to investigate the successful Nordic approach.

In these countries men -not women- are criminalised and this has resulted in countries like Sweden becoming unattractive to traffickers of young women for sex.

However, Mr Barnett said the debate would come up again after the election and that the Swedish model could be considered as part of this.

Mr McGowan also pledged to make Easter Sunday “a day of rest” like Anzac Day.

ACL WA Director Rhys Vallance, who organised last night’s event, said the turnout from the Christian constituency was pleasing.

“This is a constituency that believes in seeing a more compassionate, just and moral society and it was great to be able to hear from the leaders on some of the tough social issues which go to the heart of what kind of society we are,” he said.

ACL understands last night’s event was the biggest public forum of the WA election campaign.


Related Coverage

Questions put to leaders

Commitment to keep outdoor advertising G-Rated

Make it Count Videos