The Victorian election on November 29th saw a 3.1% swing to Labor, a meteoric rise in Greens representation, a clutch of small parties elected to the Upper House and a new Labor Premier, Daniel Andrews.

Lower House
Labor 47
Coalition 38
Greens 2
Independent 1
Total 88
Upper House (Tentative Results)
Labor 13
Coalition 16
Greens 5
Shooters & Fishers 2
Sex Party 1
Democratic Labor Party 1
Australian Country Alliance 1
Vote 1 Local Jobs 1
Total 40

ACL was engaged heavily in the election campaign, with direct contact to both major parties.

Make it Count Forum

The Make it Count Forum was held in Queens Hall on September 23rd, where former Premier Denis Napthine and Daniel Andrews faced questions from 10 Victorian church denomination leaders. The issues raised included domestic violence, gambling reform, abortion law, and school freedom.

Apart from the Sky News debate, ACL’s Make it Count Forum was the only time on the campaign trail when the two leaders appeared together.

During the Forum, both the Premier and Opposition Leader promised to allow their MP’s a conscience vote should a Bill be introduced to the Parliament to protect doctor’s conscience in respect of Victorian abortion laws.

Premier Andrews also committed to establishing a Royal Commission into family violence and to establish a taskforce to report to the Parliament on the ice epidemic within the first 100 days.

School Freedom

ACL Chief of Staff, Martyn Iles and Victorian Director, Dan Flynn met with Shadow Minister for Education, James Merlino to emphasise the need for religious schools to be able to employ staff who share their values. When no policy change was forthcoming, ACL launched its school freedom campaign to highlight the importance of the issue to voters.

Labor’s policy is an unwarranted restriction on freedom of association and freedom of religion. It is also an erosion of the Christian school system which has contributed so much good to Australia and the State of Victoria.

In the month before the election, over 4,300 voters write to Daniel Andrews and their local ALP candidates on the issue.

The campaign saw an unprecedented intervention by Melbourne’s Catholic and Anglican Archbishops and leaders from the Baptist, Coptic, Prebyterian and Lutheran churches, who were united against the ALP Policy.

The Catholic Archdiocese tweeted:

Catholic tweet

The Principal of the secular Fitzroy Community School also took a stand in the media for religious freedom, stating that he could not conceive of running a good school without the ability to choose staff who share the school’s values.

Meet Your Candidate Forums

ACL conducted 16 forums in which voters turned out to meet their local candidates and ask them questions. They attracted almost 1,000 attendees and candidates from the ALP, Coalition and minor parties. Notably, a number of Labor candidates expressed concerns about their own party’s policy on school freedom. Many candidates expressed concern that Victoria’s abortion laws had gone too far, particularly in relation to doctor’s conscience.

Hope in the Upper House

A clutch of minor parties will hold the balance of power in the Upper House, meaning that Labor’s school freedom and equal opportunity laws may not be passed.

Labor will need 21 votes in order to pass legislation, but can only rely on the support of the Greens and the Sex Party, yielding a vote count of 19.

Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins of the DLP was elected campaigning for the repeal of section 8 of the Abortion Law Reform Act which requires doctors who conscientiously object to abortions to refer patients to those who don’t. She has also promised to oppose Labor’s school freedom and equal opportunity reforms in favour of freedom of religion and freedom of association.

Thanks to Outgoing Parliamentarians

ACL wishes to particularly acknowledge the following:

  • The Hon. Christine Campbell MLA (ALP) for her courage in defending the rights of doctors not to be involved in abortion referrals against their will.

  • Andrew Ronalds MLC (Lib) for his leading role in reversing erroneous Education Department guidelines developed this year which limited students religious freedoms at state schools and damaged the SRI program which has bi-partisan support.

  • David O’Brien MLC (Nat) for his exemplary work in the state government inquiry into institutionalised child sex abuse, involving over 162 hearings

  • Andrew Elsbury MLC (Lib) for his support for the March for The Babies.

Looking Ahead

ACL will continue to campaign for school’s rights to employ according to their faith and ethos and expect to see a Bill permitting doctors to be able to practice medicine in accordance with their conscience.

The Sex Party has foreshadowed a Bill on voluntary euthanasia and exclusion zones near abortion clinics to limit free speech. These Bills represent a threat to the most vulnerable and will be opposed.

As we anticipate the start of the 58th parliament, let us pray for God’s wisdom for our leaders and Members of Parliament and pray for insight and grace as together we seek to represent Christian values in Spring Street.