CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

How to Vote in this Election

Nov 10, 2007

On such a hot potato subject as this, a few preliminary disclaimers. First, it would not be wise for me to presume to tell other people how they should vote at the upcoming Federal election. That I will not do. Second, let me admit my biases up front. I used to be a radically secular leftist. Now I am a Christian who is more or less conservative. Thus what is presented here is not fully objective or unbiased. But I think no one is free of bias when speaking on such topics.

However I can lay out some general information to help us all think about what we as believers might do on polling day. Two things are clear: this election will have an impact not just on Australia, but I believe, on the rest of the world. And given the gravity of this situation, we must all think very carefully, and pray very hard, about how we will cast our vote.

With that in mind, let me offer just a few random thoughts on the two major parties. I will not really have anything to say here about the minor parties, the independents, preferential voting, and so on. These considerations are all of value, but this reflection will primarily deal with the Liberal/National Parties, and the Labor Party.

And the first thing to mention here is that this election is not really about either John Howard or Kevin Rudd. Yes, the leaders of the parties are important, and they need to be considered as part of the overall equation, but it is really the party – with its policies, its platforms, its philosophy and its factional manoeuvring – that matters most here.

That is, unlike the American political system, the party leaders have somewhat less overall influence and impact. For example, Kevin Rudd can make many claims at the moment, but if elected, he will have to please his own party, and keep in step with Labor policy. Factionalism will rear its head, and numerous power plays and manoeuvrings for position will take place, and Rudd will have a tricky balancing act to perform.

Radical elements within Labor are now being muted, but once in power, they will be making their demands for how Labor proceeds. And while Peter Garrett may say it was all just a joke, his very telling admission that once in office, Labor will reject its pre-election moderation and push a more radical agenda needs to be taken very seriously indeed. The idea that “Once we get in we’ll just change it all,” means that what we are hearing now may be so much posturing from Rudd and the Labor Party.

Of course the conservative side of politics is not immune from all this, but they seem to have less radical agendas waiting to be foisted upon a hapless population. And while there are obviously factions and infighting within the Liberal and National parties, they seem less pronounced, and the parties seem to be less dominated by special interest groups.

For Rudd to claim that the Liberals are dominated by lawyers is a bit misleading, since both parties are filled with politicians who came out of a legal background. But the claims of Howard that a Labor government would be top heavy with former union officials seems to be accurate, even if we quibble with the 70 per cent figure.

Another indication of an unhelpful influence which would dog any Labor government is the large percentage of those who are strongly pro-abortion. Consider just one indication of this, Emily’s List. As their website explains, “EMILY’s List Australia is a national organisation aimed at getting more progressive Labor women elected to Parliament.” And the word progressive is codeword for the feminist agenda, including a decidedly pro-abortion stance.

The site makes this startling admission: “At February 1996 there were 4 women ALP members of the House of Representatives. Today, there are 152 Labor women in parliaments of which 113 are EMILY’s List members.” And in this federal election 65 per cent of female Labor candidates are in EMILY’s list and actively pro-abortion. Those concerned about the unborn need to keep this in mind as they vote on November 24.

Another matter of concern is the ever-increasing bureaucracies and public service sector. Conservative governments are not free of such harmful trends, but they tend to get even worse under Labor governments. In many ways Rudd is a living example of the bureaucratic mindset. It seems every time some issue arises, the only thing we can count on from Mr Rudd is, “We will hold an inquiry into this” or “we will set up a commission to investigate this” or some such thing. Mushrooming government tends to create more problems than it solves.

Indeed, much of the Labor bureaucracy is a radical, socialist bureaucracy. Consider the words of Labor’s second in command, Julia Gillard: “For the Left to make any real advance all these perspectives on the relationship to Labor in government need to be rejected in favour of a concept of strategic support for Labor governments. We need to recognise the only possibility for major social change is under a long period of Labor administration. Within that administration the Left needs to be willing to participate to shape political outcomes, recognising the need to except (sic) often unpalatable compromises in the short term to bolster the prospect of future advance. The task of pushing back the current political constraints by changing public opinion would need to be tackled by the Left through government, social movements and trade unions.”

Although she now downplays her socialist past, her views, and those of many other Labor leaders, are clearly of the radical left, complete with social engineering agendas. They are a set of views that tend to be anti-business, anti-family and often, anti-faith. Indeed, speaking of faith, it is worth looking at the two leaders in more detail.

Howard, Rudd and the Christian Faith

Both leaders declare themselves to be Christians. Neither one is of the evangelical, bible-thumping variety. Both are now Anglicans (Howard was formerly Methodist, and Rudd was formerly Catholic). However, neither one seems to have a clear grasp of the biblical gospel when pressed. Both men were questioned about their faith at a recent ACL public forum. Mr Howard could only talk about a few parables of Jesus which had impacted on his life. The truth is, a New Ager or even a secularist could do the same. And Rudd could only go on about vague concepts of social justice.

But a real contrast seems to lie in the way the leaders make use of their faith. Mr Howard rarely brings up his Christian convictions and beliefs in public discourse, but he does not deny them either. He is content to simply govern, with his Christian convictions moulding how he looks at policy and public issues.

Mr Rudd, by contrast, has made much of his faith in public. While not meaning to doubt his Christian convictions, there is clearly a political agenda behind some of this. This becomes clear when we consider recent political history. When John Howard won the last Federal election, Kevin Rudd soon thereafter held a meeting of interested Labor colleagues, telling them that unless Labor could latch on to the Christian vote, as the Coalition had been doing for some time, Labor would have difficulty achieving office.

Thus he made it a deliberate political strategy to seek to portray Labor – and himself – as equally deserving of the vote of believers. Thus his continued public discussions about Christianity need to be seen – at least in part – in this context. Quite simply, he knows he has to win over a large chunk of the Christian vote if Labor is to win this election.

Consider another important faith issue. All of Australia now knows how bad religious vilification laws are, following the 5-year debacle in Victoria with the two Christian pastors. The case was a major miscarriage of justice, and the laws have not made for religious unity, but disunity. And the real intent of the law is to effectively silence those who wish to proclaim the Christian gospel.

We know that the major leaders of the Coalition parties are dead set against religious vilification laws. Yet when Kevin Rudd was asked point blank about a Federal version of the law at the above-mentioned ACL forum, he could not bring himself to say no to such a law. Indeed, we know quite clearly from other high-ranking Labor figures that a Federal religious vilification law is high on the agenda. This should be a matter of concern for all believers.

Finally, there is the issue of personal faith. This is an area we must tread carefully in. Again, we cannot judge our leaders – only God knows their hearts. Yet consider how in some natural opportunities to share their faith, our leaders either did, or did not do so. Recently, for example, Peter Costello was asked by a primary school student this interesting question: “Who made cactuses?” Without skipping a beat, Costello replied, “Well, that is a very … that’s one of the great questions of life actually. I think God made everything, so God made cactuses.” In itself this does not tell us much about Costello or his faith, yet it seems he is not bashful about honoring God when the occasion arises.

But consider an even more natural opportunity to highlight one’s Christian beliefs. Kevin Rudd was asked in an SBS interview this question: “Mr Rudd, do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?” And his answer? “Well, I’m a – I’m a, a person who attends church regularly.” This is a bit disappointing coming from someone so intent on telling us of his strong Christian convictions. It would have been a great chance to explain the Christian gospel, but instead we get this wishy-washy non-answer. And as Mr Rudd should know, simply being a church member no more makes one a believer than being in a garage makes one an automobile.

Other indications about faith can be mentioned. Consider this fact: After the last Federal Election, when the parliamentarians took the oath, 50 per cent of Labor MPs refused to touch the Bible, when given to them. (30 out of 60 MPs in Opposition). On the contrary only 1 MP out of 87 from the Liberal and National Coalition refused to touch the Bible.

Again, this is not the be all and end all of Christian belief, but it does tell us a bit about where the two parties are at in terms of faith and Christian belief. Secularism plagues both parties, but it seems to be much more widespread in Labor ranks than among Coalition members.

Conclusion

In this all too brief discussion I have of course been quite selective. These are just a few random aspects of the overall election situation which believers need to consider and pray about. Plenty of other issues could be mentioned.

For example, some might argue, ‘What about various social justice issues?’ As with the recently released Christian Values Checklist, some have complained that these sorts of questions are conspicuous by their absence. My response would be this. Both in this article and in the Checklist, issues in which there is a fairly clear Biblical position (such as the abortion issue, of God’s intention for human sexuality) were featured. If a politician is in favour of same-sex marriage, for example, that tells us a lot about their Christian beliefs, or lack thereof.

Yet on other issues the Bible gives us some leeway, and believers may hold to a range of positions. For example, all believers can and should be concerned about things such as wealth and poverty, but there is room to move among believers as to the best means of achieving economic justice. Some will favour a more free-market approach, some a more socialist approach. The Bible seems to allow for some discussion on these issues.

That is why such debatable issues did not feature heavily in the Checklist, or here. I have addressed these issues elsewhere on this website. All that I intended to do here was offer a few random considerations which might help the believer as they go to the polling booth in two weeks’ time. They are not the only considerations to take into account. And my version of events is admittedly one-sided.

Each believer must make up his or her own mind as to how God will most be honoured and Australia best served in the votes they cast. We all need to reflect very carefully, and in much prayer, on how we cast our ballots at this crucial election.

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33 Responses to How to Vote in this Election

  • Thanks for an informative article Bill.

    I would add too that the Coalition, whilst by no means perfect, seems to manage the economy better. Consider how Sinclair Davidson and Alex Robson argue

    “EVEN though the Reserve Bank of Australia announced an increase in its target cash rate of 25 basis points yesterday, it is still lower than it was when the Coalition came to power in 1996. And even if the bank increases it again next month, as many market participants expect, the target cash rate will still be at a lower level than the Coalition inherited”

    And

    “But the Reserve Bank’s own data shows that even after yesterday’s rise, banks’ standard variable housing loan interest rates will still be lower than their average levels during each of the Whitlam, Hawke and Keating Labor governments.”

    And

    “Daily cash rate data from January 1979 to October 2007 shows the median interest rate for the Labor years is 11.75 per cent, compared with the Coalition years (including Fraser) of 5.5 per cent.”

    And

    “To make matters worse, Labor governments also tend to be associated with greater macro-economic instability. The data shows that interest rates have been more volatile during the ALP years.”

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22720154-7583,00.html

    Damien Spillane

  • Thanks Bill, I think you put it quite well. It is good to read well thought out comments by fellow Christians on such an important issue as the election. I have no doubt that this election’s result will have significant consequences for our country and the more informed voters we are, the better (although admittedly when it comes down to the basic requirements, we don’t necessarily need to know much at all, only who God leads us to vote for at the election)
    Matthew Mulvaney

  • To be honest, the arguments for which party left who the worse interest rate situation, and which government can better control long term interest rates, is a specious one. The reality is that governments have only a limited control over interest rates which are ultimately decided largely by market forces. The primary responsibility of our independent central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia, is to maintain the stability of the national currency and money supply.

    While an irresponsible government can siginficantly damage an economy and, as we’ve seen in Argentina, send the economy spiraling out of control, even good government cannot control the absolute direction of interest rates. Also a central bank has the choice of effecting interest rates OR the currency – it must make a choice largely on one or the other. And even this choice is going to be limited within it’s reach.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_bank for more indepth info.

    Many factors affect global interest rates. Essentially it comes down to inflation from things like increasing resource prices and natural causes like the drought. Inflation itself is can be driven by expanding economies and the resulting super-demand caused, wage hikes, printing excess money etc. – different theories compete. Having said that, many economists see this as a new era of lower interests rates brought about by globalisation.

    So really the best that we can expect from any government going forward economically is to create growth in the economy, and try avoid factors which will derail it such as rampant inflation or create inequities in the economy which will create a bubble or bust situation – try to keep thing stable. For with growth comes money creation and more employment which feeds upon itself – as we have experienced for the last 17 years.

    In the global economy there are myriad factors to consider in monetary policy. So if economics is the main driver in ones voting equation then choose the player with the ability to keep the economy moving forward and stable, and Australia competitive on the world stage. Given this, it’s my opinion that the Liberals have a stronger record.

    Garth Penglase

  • Dear Bill, The Christian Institute in Britain gives the voting record of MPs of all parties and this gives a pretty good idea of their Christian make up:
    http://www.christian.org.uk/mpvotes.php
    So for example Gerald Howarth, Conservative, has an excellent record apart from a slight glitch with embryo research:
    http://www.christian.org.uk/mpvotes.php?selection=&value1=6&submit1=SHOW&value2=1
    Whereas Angela Eagles, a militant – I mean militant – of the labour party has a less than promising record:
    http://www.christian.org.uk/mpvotes.php?selection=&value1=592&submit1=SHOW&value2=1
    I agree with your statement that the way Australians vote will impact on the rest of us.
    David Skinner, UK

  • I found it interesting that virtually all of the Coalition MPs took their oath on the Bible. Given that the RU486 and embryonic stem cell bills passed parliament without too much difficulty despite a Coalition majority in both houses, that tells me there are an awful lot of hypocrites on the Coalition side. So do I choose a party loaded with hypocrites, or one loaded with non-believers? A sad choice, indeed.
    Tim Baker

  • Dear Tim, that is no reason for giving up. Disillusionment is just another word for waking up to the reality that we all live inconsistent lives. When has there ever been a time when we haven’t been hypocrites? What about Paul pointing out to Peter in no uncertain terms his inconsistency with regard to eating with gentiles? Just thank God that he has given us his Word. Let’s take it out of its sheath and start using it – boldly, unapologetically.
    God Bless, David Skinner, UK

  • Tim Baker makes an interesting comment about having a choice between voting for hypocrites or non-believers. Hypocrites is a strong word and doesn’t apply to all those in the Coalition. Non-belivers is a soft word and is not an honest or full description of the Labor Party. Kim Beazley Sr, a very honourable Labor man, had a more accurate description. He went a step farther than calling the Labor party a group of non-believers. At a state Labor conference in Hobart in 1970, Kim Beazley Sr, who despised their plans to be pushing an agenda of abortion and allowing homosexual couples to adopt children, stated (and I quote) “When I first went, as a young man to the ALP forums, those present were the cream of the working class. But as I look about me now, all I see are the dregs of the middle class”. He went further and demanded to know “When are you middle class perverts going to stop using the Labor Party as a spiritual spitoon?” Apparently, with Kim Sr there was a bit more to the Labor Party than describing them under the more charitable name of “unbelievers”.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie, Qld

  • I was once told a humerous anecdote.
    “(Q) How do you know when a politician is telling a lie/?
    (A) His mouth is moving.”
    Tim, I understand the dilemma you speak of and I empathise, but I will vote for the party that is substantially grounded in their ethics by their past displays.
    Not everyone will be the person that they represent themselves to be.
    This is sad, there is distinct lack of moral fortitude in our leaders today.
    Jesus came to be a servant to all, too bad that His example is not followed by the governments of today.
    Jim Sturla

  • David, I don’t think what I stated is a reason for giving up either. But I thought it was worth noting that although many in the Coalition claim to be Christians, when it came to the crunch they capitulated and went against a pretty clear biblical teaching. Yes, we may be all hypocrites in the sense that we fall short, but I’d like to think most of us make more of an effort than those ‘Christian’ MPs did.

    Frank, ‘hypocrites’ is a strong word, and while it certainly doesn’t apply to all, or even most, of the Coalition, I think the experiences of the past few years show it applies to more than a lot of committed Christians would have thought (I know many in the pro-family/pro-life movement who have been surprised at how the RU486 and stem cell bills went). And, yes, I guess non-believers is too soft a word for many in the ALP who push a socially liberal agenda, so I agree with what you have to say there.

    On balance I’m definitely behind the Libs, but over the past few years I’ve come to the view that the Libs are not quite as good, and the ALP not quite as bad, as what I used to think, and I guess my comments a reflection of that. Thanks for your comments.

    Tim Baker

  • If the Labor Party is elected, the naive supporters will wonder what hit them. Same-sex marriage, euthanasia, abortion on demand, religious vilification (one way of course, it will still be acceptable to vilify Christians) these will all become part of their agenda. Rudd has already made a rod for his own back by promising various things, which will be vetoed, by those who will be running the show – it won’t be him. His government would be worse than Whitlam’s and in a few years, just like with Whitlam’ you won’t find anyone who will admit to having voted for him. However John Howard has not lost yet, after all, journalists and cartoonists aren’t the only people permitted to vote in elections.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie, Queensland

  • While I won’t vote for them, I find it difficult to be quite as negative on a Rudd government. My understanding was that ALP policy is against same-sex marriage, though they’d obviously be quicker than the Coalition to ditch that if public sentiment turned (and I guess you’d have some of them actively campaigning for it). As for abortion on demand, we effectively already have that, and the Coalition haven’t, and won’t, do anything about that. Yes, the pro-choicers want to decriminalise abortion, but that’s the province of the states, not the federal government.

    And I’m personally a touch skeptical of the common claim that Rudd won’t be in control. I think delivering the ALP government will give him plenty of internal support, and if they start drifting to the left, they’ll feel it at the next election. I don’t get the connection to Whitlam – the Hawke/Keating government was the most recent ALP government – so why compare with the 70s?

    But I’m also very happy that it’s not only journalists voting!

    Tim Baker

  • Anyone who believes that,if Rudd wins the election he’ll be hailed as the all coquering hero and will have all the say, is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. The union idealogues, will believe that they contributed to the election win, because they shut up and let him do all the talking. They will know that if Rudd wins (and I’m not yet convinced he will win) the main contributor to that win was and is the media. The interviewing of Rudd during the campaign was very amateurish. I speak from experience, as I spent most of my working life in commercial radio and would have interviewed about 3,000 people. I could tell, that in many interviews he was advised of the coming questions in advance. Photos in the papers of the two leaders in juxtaposition, invariably had Rudd first and Howard on the right. I compared Rudd to Whitlam, because this has all the earmarks of the Whitlam campaign, with the “leader” treated as the great Messiah, who will fix everything. Well the great “messiah” Rudd made a mess of things in Queensland, when he was chief adviser to the disastrous Goss government – vetoing the Wolfdene dam project, sacking hospital boards, closing court houses and rail stations. Also as far as the unions are concerned, my first job in radio was at the then Labor run radio station 4KQ in Brisbane, owned by the AWU. Almost every night I was so busy, I had time for only 10 minutes for dinner before my 6pm shift. I was never paid any overtime.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie, Qld

  • Tim, although Federal Labor has said they don’t support same-sex marriage they also have a policy to introduce a same-sex ‘relationship register’. (Rudd restated this position in the leaders debate organised by the Australian Christian Lobby.) This basically amounts to the same thing – State endorsement and recognition of homosexuality. From such a base if it becomes law, homosexuals will be in a stronger position from which to argue their agenda to have their ‘relationships’ granted all the respect and privilege that was once the reserve of marriage proper. And who could argue against the logic that says ‘what the State approves shouldn’t be discriminated against’?

    Although some Christian groups and churches actually support same-sex relationship registers, they are both short-sighted and unbiblical in so doing. The claim is that they want the government to remove “unreasonable” discrimination towards homosexual relationships. But who gets to define what is reasonable or unreasonable? Surely for Christians the meaning of such terms should be informed by biblical morality and not some arbitrary humanistic feel-good imaginings.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Ewan, what you’re saying is so true. It’s a major reason why I can’t vote for Labor this election. Labor is too determined to accelerate the moral downslide in our laws. You only have to look at what they’ve done in my state Victoria to realise that Labor can’t be trusted. I don’t want Federal Religious Vilification Laws, the state RVL is bad enough.

    Churches such as the Uniting Church that try to please everyone end up standing for nothing and failing to please everyone.

    Matthew Mulvaney

  • I believe we do have a responsibility to look for Christian values and to support pollies who do have an affinity with them. And this election we have two contestors of the Christian Democrat Party, one seeking a seat in the House of Reps and one for the Senate. It is important to know that their second preference in the Reps goes 100% to your first choice as well as will give them the chance of a seat. I am sure we could do with more Christians in our parliaments, that is we are ‘fair dinkum’ Christians.
    Peter Rice

  • Well done Bill.
    Listening to K-07 tap dance when questioned about his Christian beliefs should be a warning of what is to come if Labor is elected. Tony Perkins from Family Research Council recently stated in a letter referring to the politicians in the US “the truth of the matter is that recent pretensions of piety by prominent liberals are little more than a cynical charade – meant to confuse and divide people of faith and advance the Left’s extreme, anti-family agenda”. This is very applicable to the present situation here in Australia.
    Amongst the many issues radical issues that Labour supports, its abortion agenda will inflict untold damage on both mothers and children.
    Archbishop Charles Chaput from Denver, Colorado in commenting on Catholics in particular voting for a pro choice politician stated that: “I think there are legitimate reasons you could vote in favour of someone who wouldn’t be where the church is on abortion, but it would have to be a reason that you could confidently explain to Jesus and the victims of abortion when you meet them at the Judgment. That is the only criterion.”
    We really need to take a hard look at what the outcome will be for all Australians if we vote for those who are anti-family and anti-life.
    Madge Fahy

  • Bill,

    Since you stated your pre-conceived bias from the outset, I think you should rename the piece “How to Vote Conservative”.

    While you are entitled to your opinion, you have conveniently ignored a number of issues that voters, whether believer or not, are concerned about. The Howard government took this country into America’s illegal war on a false premise. It has adopted a brutal and inhuman approach to the treatment of refugees that has made many Australians ashamed of their country. It actively rejected the issue of global warming for years, and only recently has made some token initiatives because of public pressure. It has sat on its collective backside and watched the development of a housing crisis that makes housing cost in this country amongst the world’s worst.

    I would have thought these issues would be of greater concern to Christians than the making of money, which seems to be the dominant theme of your article. Governments don’t control the economy. They are but one of many players, and can have only a limited impact on economic performance of the country. The main reason Australia is riding an economic boom at the moment is because of its natural resources, not because of any government initiative.

    I challenge you to nominate one key initiative or achievement of the Howard government. Mostly it has just ridden on the back of the major structural reforms of previous Labor governments.

    As for the so-called Christian Values Checklist, 18 of the 27 so-called “election issues” relate to marriage, sex and reproduction. I think you guys are a little obsessed.

    Steve Angelino, WA

  • Thanks Steve

    I did mention that this was a selective look at some issues, and I did admit my bias up front. The real question is, when are you going to admit your bias? Or are your views entirely objective, but not those of whom you disagree with?

    And I would think record low unemployment levels would be just one of a number of achievements that might be mentioned about the current government.

    And I have elsewhere provided a rationale for the issues covered in the checklist. If it is not to your liking, you of course are free to produce your own checklist.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • As a Pentecostal I have always voted conservative but over the last 10+ years I have generally submitted a blank form during elections as I could not in all honesty support either major party. I did vote for the Liberals a couple of elections ago when I though Labor might win.

    Even though I am highly concerned that Labor which traditionally espouses anti-Christian policies (certainly more so than the Liberals) will in all probability win the next election, I am also greatly concerned with John Howard’s IR Laws with there asociated adverse affect on families. On top of this we have our jobs being sold off to overseas interests so I feel that I could not in all honesty vote Liberal.
    At least within the senate we have the ability to support some form of Christian testimony with at least two minor parties.
    Dare I be so bold to say that if a Labor victory is to be a certainty is there wisdom in ensuring that the Liberals are given a reminder that they may have lost the support of many Evangelical/Pentecostals due to the negative effect that their policies are having on family life.

    Never before have I had concerns with the Liberals staying in power…but at the same time being greatly concerned at seeing a Labor government back in power who will very quickly enshrine darkness.

    Barry Fleming

  • Sorry Steve but your arguments sound very much parrot fashion, they sound just like the advertising being presented by many in the media.
    You state that Iraq was illegal and we only see selected broadcasts in the media, but what of the 000’s of people killed under Sadam’s regime, don’t they count for anything.
    You are quick to point out that the earth’s climate is changing, yes I agree, but even noted scientists cannot agree on the causes so can we get some realism into the issue before we go off half cocked.
    You speak of inhuman treatment meted out to refugees which has caused great shame. Based on our Christian values this may appear so, I can assure that treatment by other countries is so much worse.
    What is the problem in us wanting to evaluate prospective migrants before they enter our society, problems arising from overseas countries give foundation to our needing to do so.
    You speak of achievements, I would consider the fact that Australia flourished while other Asian Nations had great recessions, a high unemployment rate, the repayment of $96 billion debt, record low interesrt rates etc. achievements to be proud of.
    Yes, I may be biased because I do place “family values” first, these are the same values that saw Australia become the country that it has, I can only ask you what is your motive in wanting these values lowered?
    Jim Sturla

  • Barry Fleming

    As a Pentecostal I have always voted conservative but over the last 10+ years I have generally submitted a blank form during elections as I could not in all honesty support either major party.

    This is fallacious. In elections, we are choosing between the alternatives actually available, not between them and a non-existent ideal. So the voter’s responsibility is to vote for the better of the alternatives, or for the lesser evil if you like to prevent worse evil.

    I am also greatly concerned with John Howard’s IR Laws with there asociated adverse affect on families.

    Where is the data, as opposed to union propaganda. Historically, “time with families” was hardly an issue, because people had to work long hours to survive. Only capitalism, founded upon Christian principles, made it possible to live on much fewer hours work. But with Chairman Rudd bringing back Big Government (In Whom We Trust) into the workplace, the results will be higher unemployment. Now this really is bad for families!

    On top of this we have our jobs being sold off to overseas interests so I feel that I could not in all honesty vote Liberal.

    This is protectionism, which has more to do with Marx than Scripture, again supporting big Government meddling. In fact, if our jobs are being sold off, it means someone is buying them, i.e. pouring money into our economy. And if Australians can buy cheaper from overseas, it means that they have more money in their pockets to support new Australian jobs, doing what we are best at. Throughout the world, jobs saved by protectionism are outweighed by jobs lost elsewhere.

    I strongly recommend the paper A Biblical View of Economics and Industrial Relations by Andrew Kulikovsky

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Jim,

    Yes, Saddam was an evil dictator who killed many Iraqis. The invasion, occupation and civil war has also killed huge numbers of Iraqis, and the country is a bigger disaster than ever. Howard was warned by many people at the time, but supported Bush anyway.

    The fact that other unspecified countries treat refugees badly is hardly an excuse for Australia. We should be setting an example of a just and humane society. Christian values don’t dictate this, simple humanity does, irrespective of religious belief.

    So what if Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand had problems in the late 90s. Australia and other Western nations didn’t. The reasons for that have little to do with the Australian government.

    As for national debt, Australia has swapped a balance sheet showing assets and liabilities for one showing nothing – no assets, no liabilities, no interest bill to pay, but no revenue from the assets either. Is that smart economics? It’s a matter of opinion. Meanwhile our foreign debt has soared, and while that’s mostly private sector debt, it says something about the structure of the economy. A WEF study published today in Time ranks Australia 20th, well behind most other developed nations, even France. Nothing to be proud of.

    As for interest rates, the lowest rate during the 1990s was in 1993 – under a Labor Government. The 80s were bad, but they were bad for governments of both sides. The essential point is that no government can claim credit for low interest rates in good times, while blaming external factors when interest rates are high. Governments don’t control interest rates at all. They can influence them through the inflationary or deflationary effects of fiscal policy, but massive spending announcements at election time exactly provide much comfort there.

    The current interest rate is almost 1% higher than it was when Howard took office. What exactly is there to crow about? We now have a housing affordability crisis that hits the so-called Y generation hardest, so there’s a triple whammy of high interest rates, a looming credit crunch, and high housing prices. Recent analyses have put some of the blame on negative gearing, which is allowable for investment properties but not residences. While it is intended to stimulate investment, many commentators think the incentive should only apply to new housing stock. A tax incentive that assists the purchase of an existing property doesn’t contribute anything to the availability of housing, but does contribute to a rise in costs.

    As for so-called “family values”, you must surely be aware that this term has become a pejorative code for the sexuality and reproductive obsessions of fundamentalists. They aren’t issues that affect the daily lives of most families, Christian or otherwise.

    Bill, I apologise for the length of this post and I beg your indulgence. The matters raised are not easily dealt with in a short response.

    Steve Angelino, WA

  • Dear Bill, I thought your article very worthwhile. As a Christian, a mother and a grandmother I am very concerned about some of the Labour Party policies. The best times, (for family and business) have been when the Liberal Party has been in control. They are certainly not perfect, but I would much rather have them in power than the Labour Party.
    Yours in faith,
    Pat Beard, Bindoon, Western Australia

  • Thanks Steve

    But what you crudely dismiss as mere fundamentalist hang-ups about sexuality and reproduction are in fact vitally important issues of concern to most people in the world. Family does matter, as does human life, and political parties which see the importance of marriage, family and respect for human life will indeed find many people around the world supporting them.

    Your comments perhaps tell us more about you and your particular set of values than it does about the many millions of people who deeply value are care about such crucial issues.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Well Steve unfortunately your rhetoric reflects your bias and I must reject it.
    May I suggest you start to look at the facts in a realistic manner and not in a manner that is based on your biases.
    Jim Sturla

  • Thanks for the article Bill, and the others regarding the election/government.

    Many seem more than willing to pass judgment on the war in Iraq, and rightly so. War is not and should not be desirable. But there are a few things that need to be considered before we condemn the Howard government for it’s participation.

    Firstly, we are not part of the governments involved, so we do not have access to the information they had when they entered the war. As others have pointed out, we do not know the full extent of Saddam’s activities. But we do know that he saw nothing wrong with mass murder as a means to an end. WWII could have been averted, or at least greatly shortened, if action had been taken against Hitler. Yes, I’m aware that a great number of people have been killed by USA and Co in Iraq. In the same way, there would have been much death and destruction if preemptive action had been taken against Nazi Germany. We can say, “Oh look, they didn’t find any weapons of mass destruction.” But if I were Saddam, I would get rid of them before the US came in. (Please excuse me if I’m incorrect here, I am hardly an expert.)

    Secondly, consider Howard’s choices in the matter. I am probably wrong, but I doubt he could have stopped the US from going ahead with the war. So he could either stay out, or pitch in. Which is the better option? Stay out, lose standing with the US, and refuse to make a positive contribution? Or he could commit troops, in the hope that he makes a positive contribution to a inevitable situation. I think we can all agree that Iraq is safer because of Australia’s contribution. So which is the greater evil, sending troops to the war, or not sending them?

    Thirdly, many who pass judgment on the war are left-wing atheists. They quote numbers of deaths and tell us how terrible it is. (I agree, it is tragic.) Next, they tell us that all these people have died just so that the US could control oil. I find it a terrible irony that so many of these same “lefties” tell us that it is OK to abort a child, if it makes things more convenient for the parents.

    Once again, please excuse any ignorance on my behalf. I am not an expert in foreign affairs, these are just my thoughts on the matter. Also, I would like to emphasize that I find the death and destruction in Iraq just as disturbing as anyone else. I am simply hesitant to pass judgment on the (Australian) government.

    Samuel Sparks, QLD

  • It’s rank hypocrisy of Labor and their thralls like Steve Angelino to attack Howard on the Iraq war. Rudd (like many US Democrats including the Klintons) agreed that Saddam had WMDs and thus supported the war when it was politically expedient:

    Here is Rudd on Lateline 24 August 2002 Saddam’s WMD:

    “There is no debate or dispute as to whether Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction,” Rudd said on his return from a trip to the UK.

    “He does.

    “There’s no dispute as whether he’s in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

    “He is.”

    Furthermore, “A leaked letter from Kevin Rudd to Prime Minister John Howard shows the Opposition Leader backed Australia’s involvement in Iraq in the aftermath of the invasion.”

    About interest

    About the paranoia with negative gearing, Labor tried to drop it, and had to reintate it when rents soared into the ionosphere. There are much better solutions: abolish housing ban open space laws and state stamp duties, and introduce a low flat tax in return for abolishing negative gearing, since that is only worthwhile because the highest marginal tax rates are so punitive.

    According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, net household wealth has increased by 14 per cent from 2003-04, from $494,346 to $562,854. So Howard is right that, on average, Australian working families have never been better off.

    And the problems with allegedly unaffordable housing are often due to many people with expectations too high, wanting a first home much bigger than the first home their parents or grandparents owned. So they abandoned financial responsibility, e.g. making sure they could afford the repayments if the rates were increased by 2% (more than the total of the interest rate rises under Howard). So they put themselves into debt to buy bigger homes than they can afford—and THIS is a major factor in driving up house prices because of all this extra money pouring into the housing market.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Before World War 2 the then Prime Minister of Britain, Chamberlain, held aloft a piece of paper and proclaimed “peace in our time.”
    Hitler laughed and said to his ministers “the poor old man just wanted my autograph.”
    The result was that millions of people died in the ensuing conflict.
    Why?
    Because no-one had the courage to take a stand and say “enough is enough.”
    Opposition to the war in Iraq is PC among the thinking intelligensia, the same people who followed Dr Spock in telling us that we should not punish children but allow them freedom of expression.
    To me a leader is a strong person, one who is not tossed by opinions.
    One who is prepared to make the hard and oft times unpopular decisions.
    One who thinks of country first and popularity second.
    One who understands the difference between intelligence and appearance.
    My views may appear radically right wing but they are formed by 60 years of experience.
    Jim Sturla

  • See also this very important article Unions not the enemy by James Allan (professor of law at the University of Queensland), pointing out the large segment of Labor who want to impose their christophobic political correctness onto Australia. We have seen the results of leftist persecutions of Christians in Sweden, Canada and Britain by the government-empowered Homonazis:

    This Labor-voting crowd, well represented among lawyers, judges, teachers and academics, wants power taken away from elected MPs and given to unelected judges. They badly want a bill of rights.

    They know perfectly well that all bills of rights – be they British-style statutory ones or Canadian-style entrenched models – have precisely this increase-the-power-of-judges effect. Indeed, if they had no effect at all on the power balance, why would anyone push so hard to have one?

    This crowd also knows that if voters are asked in any sort of referendum they will always be sensible enough to vote down a bill of rights or some disguised version of one. So these people set up elaborate consultation processes that attempt to give the illusion that a bill of rights is wanted. This is precisely what the state of Victoria did before enacting its statutory bill of rights only last year. Knowing that they could not win a referendum there (or anywhere) a “consultation process” was put in place chaired by a longstanding proponent of bills of rights and lacking even a single opponent of these instruments.

    Yet this consultation sham of “like-minded activists talking to like-minded activists” served a useful function for the legal revolutionaries. It helped reinforce the basic selling line that’s used.

    The trick is to just keep repeating the mantra: “We need to protect and uphold fundamental human rights.” Never, ever acknowledge that people in Australia simply disagree about what exactly is required to protect and uphold these indeterminately phrased, vague moral guarantees.

    So proponents gloss over the patently true fact that smart, reasonable, even nice people simply have different opinions about gay marriage, abortion, how to treat refugee claimants, how to balance security concerns about terrorism against individual liberties and so much more. Those are the sort of things a bill of rights takes away from parliament and puts into the province of the judges.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Jonathan, I agree, a Bill of Rights would be extremely bad. Election day is finally here, and since I’ve voted, I can now only wait and pray.
    Matthew Mulvaney

  • It’s notable that more sensible leading Laborites like Bob Carr were sensible enough to oppose nonsense like a Bill of Rights precisely because it would just lead to litigation not better human rights, and expand the power of the judiciary to decide questions best decided by elected representatives.

    He also opposed a republic with a popularly elected president, and an anti-vilification bill on the line of Victoria’s fascist Bill — which Chairman Rudd refused to rule out.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Hi Bill
    How about raising peoples awareness of the minor parties also running in this election? . A vote for one of the minor parties is not a wasted vote. e.g. Peter Cavanagh in the Victorian Upper House represents the Democratic Labour Party. The DLP is 100% pro-family and pro -life.e.g. Peter Cavanagh fought valiantly against the abortion bill, just read his speech in Hansard.

    The DLP is running candidates for the Senate, e.g. in Victoria, John Madigan is their lead candidate. The DLP has a real chance of getting a Senate seat if people, like your followers, get behind him and vote 1 DLP. Anyone who votes DLP can be sure that the candidates will support Christian values.

    Catherine Joseph

  • Thanks Catherine

    Yes there is a place for writing up the minor parties. And if I do so in the future, describing pro-faith and pro-family parties, I will of course feature the CDP and FF as well as the DLP.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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