Friday, July 30, 2010

Christian parties learn tough lessons

ACV Comment
Peter Hallett

There is nothing quite like the heat of an election campaign to test out both frontline candidates and the party machines behind them.

Labor and Liberal have both had their problems during this campaign with leaks, bad candidate choices and apparent contradictions between spokespersons.

At a state level, we've even had the NSW Premier and her Education minister publicly at odds over a major policy announcement.

If these major parties are having problems, with their massive infrastructure and budgets, we might expect to find smaller parties appearing a bit rough around the edges.

And so when a junior staffer of Senator Fielding, charged with establishing connection with minor parties, contacts The Australian Sex Party, has a coffee with the media savvy Fiona Patten, and thinks he or she is going to get out alive... I don't think so.

The moment contact was initiated from the Family First Senator's office, a major media story was just a matter of time.

And while we all know that Family First would never consider a preference deal with a party to which it is so diametrically opposed, the impression of being incompetent doesn't help.

On the other hand, perhaps the rule that 'all publicity is good publicity' applies and no doubt Family First representatives got more free air time to describe what they stand for than at any other time during the campaign.

But the Christian community didn't really need the spectacle of another clearly Christian party jumping on the bandwagon of Family First's embarrassment.

Politics is a tough game we know, and we expect a tough but fair battle, but Christians don't really want to see the parties, that in their mind are more closely aligned with Christian community, harming each other.

Rev Fred Nile is probably one of the most experienced Christian politicians in the nation and has had more than his fair share of tough knocks, and given plenty along the way too. It did him no favours however, to trumpet the Family First mistake in his own press release without including the quick and urgent denials that also came from the party.

The split between Rev Nile and Dr Gordon Moyes in NSW has been, and continues to be, damaging to any sense of Christian united purpose politically between Family First and the Christian Democratic Party.

It is hoped that at some stage these two parties can respect each others existence, acknowledge their distinctives and similarities and concentrate on what they are their for - providing a a credible, alternative voting choice for Australian voters.

Let's hope that Family First and CDP can have more success with preference negotiations with each other...

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