Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Family First's Bob Day is speaking out but we are looking for 'love expressed through action'

Bob Day, Senator-elect, Family First, South AustraliaIn 2010, Family First's Bob Day, a member of Houghton Uniting Church in South Australia, gave this explanation of his involvement in politics:
 'The book of Proverbs tells us to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." If that isn't an invitation to apply one's Christian faith to the political sphere, I don't know what is! When values and ideals are expressed through action in wider society - as happens through the political process, they shape our community and the world in which we live – ask William Wilberforce. The equality of all human beings is a Christian idea which led to democracy, international human rights and the abolition of slavery. And wherever Christianity goes in the world the status of women improves dramatically in that culture. My involvement in politics is an expression of my Christian faith and is my contribution towards helping restore confidence in our political process. I can be active in shaping society in ways that accord with the values Jesus taught throughout the gospels – compassion, respect for life, care for the disadvantaged and above all, love expressed through action.' (Journey magazine)
Now all but elected to the Senate after the 2013 election, Mr Day has been active in the media on a range of issues.

On housing: "The economic consequences of all that has happened over these past few years have been as profound as they have been damaging. The housing industry has been decimated, as have industries supplying that sector. The capital structure of our economy has been distorted and getting it back into alignment is going to take some time. But it is a realignment that is necessary. A terrible mistake was made and it needs to be corrected." News Ltd papers

On South Australia: "A nation like Australia might be able to afford one quaint little state like Tasmania being a dependent welfare national park but it can't sustain a mainland state like South Australia being one." Herald Sun

On the new-look Senate: "When you get representatives of everyday Australians, like the motorists' guy and the sports guy and the LDP guy and (Clive) Palmer - these all seem like sensible, everyday kind of Australians who are conservative." - The Australia

He may need to be a little gentler with his descriptions of South Australia and Tasmania and take a closer look at the policies of the LDP, but at least he's having a go.

But ACV will be relieved when he begins to 'defend the rights of the poor and needy' and be visible for 'love expressed in action.'

As the most recent elected representative of a party with Christian origins, let's pray for the gift of wisdom and mercy for Bob Day.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

ABC predicts Family First candidate Bob Day elected to Senate in South Australia

Bob Day, Senate, Family First, South Australia, election, election 2013
Family First South Australian Senate candidate Bob Day AO may become the second Senator for the party, following Steven Fielding's single term in Victoria from 2004.

While the Australian Electoral Commission Virtual Tally Room is still only showing primary votes, the ABC election pages are calculating the preference flow of all parties and describing as elected Senate candidates in South Australia:

1 Cory Bernardi, Liberal Party
2 Nick Xenophon, Nick Xenophon Group
3 Penny Wong, Australian Labor Party
4 Sarah Hanson-Young, Australian Greens.
5 Bob Day, Family First Party.
6 Simon Birmingham, Liberal Party.

If accurate, this represents the major electoral achievement of parties associated with the Christian vote in the 2013 election.

Other Senate outcomes

In separate news, the Christian Democratic party may have missed out on a Senate seat in NSW due in part to an unusually large vote for the Liberal Democrats, who have won a Senate seat. A second reason is the failure of Christian parties to preference one another. For example the DLP preferenced One Nation and Family First the Motor Enthusiasts Party and these preferences did not flow to CDP before they were excluded.

The Liberal Democrats were in the first column on the NSW Senate paper and the Liberal Party was concerned that some voters would accidentally vote for the Liberal Democrats. Their vote in NSW is far larger than in other states, perhaps supporting this theory, to the detriment of the CDP.

In other results, Nick Xenophon went close to winning two quota's outright, although the ABC is not giving them the second position on preferences.

The Palmer United Party seems to have won a Senate seat in Queensland with former rugby league star Glenn Lazarus likely to return to Canberra where he once starred for the Raiders.

In Victoria, the ABC is predicting the Motor Enthusiasts Party will come from behind on preferences to win the sixth seat despite a strong showing from Family First and Rise Up Australia.

This might one good example of the way Christian parties have let down Christian voters with their preferencing.

Election night results 2013 brought to you by Australian Christian Voter

If you can't cope with TV election coverage, watch the footy and keep the Virtual Tally Room on your computer, tablet

Virtual Tally Room, election results, online election results, election 2013
The range of sporting events tonight include a rugby test, AFL final, NRL final rounds and even US Open tennis and some might add the blood sport - politics.

But if the misery on the faces of Labor commentators and the smug adulation of the Liberals is too hard to take, then there's a cliche free way to stay right up to date with the federal election 2013 result while watching the sport of your choice.

The Australian Electoral Commission's Virtual Tally Room is an appealing alternative to the now defunct National Tally Room in Canberra and the repetitive election coverage on the television networks. (Have you noticed the longer coverage runs, the shallower it gets?)

Anyway, at the VTR you'll find live updates of seat tallies for each party and independents as well as state breakdowns, two party preferred and closed seats.

Using the menu on the left, you can click through to progress on individual seats, see seats where the incumbent is trailing and check out the latest count in the Senate.

Who needs half a dozen or a hundred talking-heads (no matter how much we love you) to describe what can find out for ourselves with a few clicks during the ad break at the footy (or whatever you are up to tonight!).

Got to and enjoy your evening.

Friday, September 6, 2013

One more post on how to vote Christian, kind of, before election day arrives

John Dickson, CPX, how to vote christian, Australian christian politics, election,
John Dickson, one of Australia's leading marketplace Christian communicators, begins his election advice with this quote from Mahatma Ghandi:
'He who says politics and religion do not mix understands neither one.'
christian politics, faith and religion, voting Christian election, election 2013Peace-award winning Pastor Jarrod McKenna begins his electoral advice article in today's Fairfax media with a quote saying just the opposite from Tony Campolo:
'Mixing religion and politics is like mixing ice cream and manure. It doesn't do much to the manure but it sure does ruin the ice cream.'
Despite the apparent divergence of starting points, the two move on to give remarkably similar advice to Christians and other voters in how best to cast their vote.

The fact Dickson seems to be reminding us that faith cannot be left out of any sphere of life, including politics, whereas McKenna is reminding us that faith can only be damaged by politics without benefiting it, is an apparent contradiction, but not a real one.

Both points are true but are in tension. If we allow faith and religion to guide our values, personal choices, voting priorities and political behaviour our politics will be better for it.

If we submerge our faith and religion in the political process thinking it is our saviour and the worldly means of defending our turf or asserting our will then we all lose.

To read more of John Dickson and other election advice, see our previous post. To read Jarrod McKenna, click here.

ACV's final pre-election thoughts

And as this may be our last pre-election post, perhaps there's room for a few brief reflections.

To think any one party or leader will solve all our problems or be above reproach on every point is to think we are in heaven and not on earth.

To be impressed by all the powerful and intelligent-sounding voices, particularly the ones that adopt the, 'I really know more about this than any of you' tone (Bernard Keane, for example) is only to be as fallible as the person who pays no attention at all.

The Christian world-view has many challenges but one advantage is that it accustoms a person to the tension of living fully for today and living fully for eternity. We can care enough to consider policies, write political blogs and cast a considered vote without buying into the depressing spectacle that this is all there is between us and oblivion.

Something to remember about the telling majority of voters in Australia, is that they don't need that much information to make an electoral judgement that by and large is good for the country. We are mostly grounded in the practical issues of life and this is perhaps the best place from which to make political decisions. Governments can often do a reasonable job with nuts and bolts and struggle with intangibles.

Christians are meant to be good with the intangibles and deeply committed to aiding the practical realities of others.

There's an intersection there somewhere with the act of voting and we pray you find that sweet spot on polling day. Happy voting.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

In the silence of the election advertising blackout, consider these Christian voter resources

Australian Christian voting, christian voting, christian election guide, election 2013
With the frenzy of electoral advertising having now entered the mandatory blackout (not before the airing of perhaps the longest single election ad of all time from Clive Palmer), Australian Christian Voter is happy to fill up all our free time by suggesting some useful resources in deciding your vote.

CPX offers oughts and ought nots

John Dickson, writing for the Centre for Public Christianity, declares himself a swinging voter and also a currently undecided one.

From this uncommitted position - with no desire to influence you to vote for a particular party or candidate (which is the same for this blog) - he provides three ways Christians ought not to vote and five ways they should.

It may not make a final decision any easier but at least you will feel you've tried if you follow John's suggestions. Visit his article: Mixing Religion and Politics.

Make it Count webcast

More than 350 churches in many parts of Australia and across most denominations signed in to Australian Christian Lobby's Make it Count 2013 Webcast which began with three minute per-recorded addresses from Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott.

Mr Rudd emphasised DisabilityCare, education, compassion for the poor. He acknowledged that some Christians may not agree with some of his political and personal decisions, but he said these had been prayerfully made in good conscience.

Mr Abbott covered a broader range of topics including families, carbon tax, refugees, charities law, gay marriage but began by honouring churches and Christians for the work they do in schools, hospitals and many other fields. He also honoured Mr Rudd for their shared-faith.

Panel members joining ACL's Lyle Shelton were Dr Megan Best, Keith Garner, John Anderson, Robert McClelland and Justine Toh. Watch below.

Make It Count 2013 Election Panel webcast from Australian Christian Lobby on Vimeo.

Three other guides

The Australian Christian Lobby canvassed political parties across 22 policy areas they believed are of importance to many Australian Christians. With a summary version and detailed option, this is probably the most comprehensive election guide you'll find - for the parties that responded. See it here.

The Bible Society of Australia has produced an electoral guide covering nine key areas and they include the Green which is a point of difference from the ACL guide. The material appears to be collation of policy material provided by parties on their website and other sources. See it here.

The Australian Christian Values Institute has produced an Australian Christian Values Checklist which allows voters to compare parties' across 21 targeted policy questions. See it here.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Christian parties battle 'mini-majors' and their own preferencing for Senate success

Christian political parties, how to vote christian, Christian voters, election 2013,
With the emergence of several, well resourced, smaller parties in 2013 - mini-majors - Christian parties face a daunting task in making an electoral impact.

Parties associated with high-profile names such as Bob Katter, Clive Palmer and Julian Assange are all seeking to take some ground from the established voting base of the major parties while also drawing in those who may not normally vote Liberal, Labor or Greens but don't see any real alternatives.

Christian parties have the same goals and while they don't have high-profile national figures to head them (Fred Nile perhaps being an exception) they hope their association with the Christian faith will bring electoral success.

We can broadly classify the following parties as seeking to represent or attract Christian voters: Australian Christians,  Christian Democratic Party, Democratic Labor Party, Family First and Rise Up Australia.

It is unlikely that any Christian party candidate will go close to winning in the House of Representatives as usually their resources are so slim it is difficult to compete. Still a vote for one of these candidates can bring electoral influence as larger parties will always respect the ballot box.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

22 policy areas of concern to Christians feature on Australia Votes website

Australia Votes, policies, election, election campaign, Christian voters, Australian Christian Lobby
Homelessness, abortion, national curriculum, internet safety, sharia law and prayer in Parliament are some of the 22 policy areas canvassed by a political party questionnaire on the Australia Votes website.

Unlike the more common 'tick-a-box' policy responses, the policy pages on Australia Votes contain detailed policy notes written specifically for the site and providing some fascinating insights into policy.

Framed and distributed by the Australian Christian Lobby, the Australia Votes questionnaire avoids broader issues of voter interest and focuses on policy areas that may be critical to Christian voters, depending on their specific interests:
'ACL recognises that Christian voters will share many concerns with the general electorate and has tried to avoid duplicating those. Instead this questionnaire aims to reflect the main concerns of this constituency on topics such as refugees, abortion, marriage, family, classification standards, sexualisation of children and religious freedom.'