Who Will Win This Vital Contest?

Two capable and determined contestants. One monumental battle. The competition will be fierce, and the stakes will be high. But there can only be one winner. Who will it be? Sorry, but lest you think I am referring to tonight’s debate between our two political leaders, you are mistaken.

I refer of course to the season finale on MasterChef! I jest, but only to some extent. Two big contests are on tonight, but which one is the most important to most Australians? The answer to that question will tell us something about the Australian people. I suspect that way more people will tune in to the MasterChef battle than the Federal election debate.

Indeed, most of you would be aware that Julia insisted that the debate be moved an hour earlier in order to not clash with the MC final! Of course a political debate is not always the highlight of one’s weekend viewing. But the fact that it seems that more people would rather watch a cooking contest than a debate which may determine who rules our country is revealing, to say the least.

Don’t get me wrong. To be honest, I too probably look forward more to the MC battle than to the election debate. And for what it is worth, I here give my vote in both contests: As to the first, go Tony! As to the second, go Caldam! (if you get my drift).

I am certainly partial regarding the first contest, but can probably go either way with the second. But it still amazes me that Australian culture (like all of Western culture) can get more excited about a cook off than a debate which will impact every one of us.

The dumbing down of Western culture continues apace. Of course I realise that some people may think there is not much to choose from between these two leaders. I will soon offer some more articles about all this, but there clearly are some major differences between Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott.

And there are some major differences between the two main political parties as well. But with Julia seeking to position herself as conservatively as possible in order to win the election, many people may not see much difference here between the two candidates.

Also, many voters may rightly be a bit cynical. Politicians tend to tell people what they want to hear, instead of what they need to hear (sort of like many religious leaders as well!). So they know this debate will be filled with plenty of platitudes, clichés and empty rhetoric.

True, these debates are not what they used to be, and spin and image tends to take precedence over content and reality. But still, despite all the games our pollies play, and all the empty sloganeering, the choice of whether a Liberal/National or a Labor/Green government comes into power is quite real and quite important indeed.

But regardless of the ramifications of who gets into power, I assume there will be far more people tuning into the MC final than the debate. It is often said that a people get the government they deserve. If tonight’s television viewing preferences are anything to go by, then we may well be in for more bad government.

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46 Replies to “Who Will Win This Vital Contest?”

  1. Just so sad isn’t it. Women voting for her because she’s a woman. Not because of her upright stance on meaningful issues.
    While Abbot makes a stance and is misquoted and attacked. I know he’s not perfect and this is far more complicated than I’m saying.
    P.S. I signed the declaration.
    Daniel Kempton

  2. MasterChef is on the airwaves a lot when I am on the road for work.

    But my care factor reads like the temperature in Antarctica!

    Go Tony! and who’s Caldam?

    John Angelico

  3. Thanks John

    But you portray your gross ignorance here! The two finalists in MC are Callum and Adam. For those in the know, both would be great winners.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  4. I would have agreed that there was little difference between the two if it was Gillard and Turnbull debating instead of Abbott. But I would definately say there is a difference between these two.

    Abbott has proved what happens when a Liberal party leader actually stands for something. In fact, Greg Sheridan says that Abbott has been running the country from the opposition;


    Damien Spillane

  5. I didn’t watch the debate – 1. I was still at church and 2. Who wants to watch leaders give carefully rehearsed spin about “moving forward” or “real action”. At least Callum and Adam cooked up something fresh and exciting.
    Mark Wilkinson

  6. Bill,

    I also display gross ignorance in the task of flying 747s and Airbus 380s, but it doesn’t bother me. 🙂

    I have other things to do on a Sunday evening…

    John Angelico

  7. Most people find politics boring and largely irrelevant to everyday life, and I admit I’ve become one of them. I was quite concerned when Labor won the last election after years of conservative rule but the world kept turning and Australia actually prospered, unlike most other Western countries.

    Frankly, I don’t think it matters much who wins. Both sides of politics here have become vanilla copies of one another and it mainly comes down to personalities. Their actual policy differences are pretty minimal, and government services will be delivered in much the same way they always have, not brilliantly but quite adequately.

    As a former migrant from the USA, I’ve come to appreciate this country as one of the best in the world to bring up a family. The friendliness, freedom, climate, political stability and living conditions here are a marvel, and I thank God every day for that.

    As for MasterChef, I’m a dedicated fan. The show’s producers have found a format that actually works, without the nastiness that pervades other “reality” TV shows. And best of all it’s about good food, and it has elevated the aspirations and food knowledge of home cooks around the nation. As a lawyer, I’m amused at the number of wannabe chefs who want to escape the legal profession, but I have to admit that lawyering can be pretty boring work much of the time.

    I congratulate Adam on winning the competition. Young Callum gave him a run for his money and will himself go far as he matures and develops his skills.

    Frank Williamson, Brisbane

  8. Thanks Frank

    But as should be clear from my various writings, I have to of course disagree with your view that there are no differences between the two main political parties. I have spelled those major differences out in earlier articles, and will do so again in future articles. And the soon-to-be released Christian Values Checklist will also very clearly highlight and document the many key differences between the parties.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  9. The Greens weren’t represented in last night’s debate, which doesn’t bother me all that much. Do you think it’s accurate to describe the Greens as wanting to achieve a sort of economic, social, and ecological utopia?
    Ross McPhee

  10. Hi Bill,

    As you have pointed out previously, this vision equates to the kingdom of God on earth, but with no reference to Him whatsoever.

    Ross McPhee

  11. Hi Bill,

    I’m well aware of your political views, and if pressed I would probably share many of them. I think Christians should be involved in politics just as any other citizen, but I also think it’s wrong for those involved in ministry to write How-to-vote cards for Christians. There’s far more to government policy than the narrow God, Gays and Guns mentality that characterizes political discourse amongst American evangelicals, and I get distressed when I see Christian politics in Australia descend to that simple-minded level.

    Frank Williamson

  12. Thanks Frank

    If you are referring to the Christian Values Checklist, let me mention a few items.

    It lists over 20 key areas, and shows where the various parties stand on each issue. As such, it is not telling anyone how to vote. It is simply offering a handy checklist of where the seven parties stand on a number of crucial issues. Believers can decide for themselves on the basis of that, and other such lists, how they may want to vote.

    As to your cliché, I would have thought that God would be of vital importance to all Christians, as would be his first and most primary institution: marriage and family. Guns however is nowhere mentioned on this checklist.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  13. Usually, the evanjellyfish talk about the alleged importance of “social justice”, and “the bible speaks much more about poverty than homosexuality”. In reality, social justice is really envy-mongering socialist rhetoric. And the Bible is unambiguously against homosexual behaviour, but not once does it say that it’s the job of bloated government bureaucracies to help the poor by means of money coerced from the most productive.
    Jonathan Sarfati, USA

  14. Hi Bill
    I am a first timer on your website. I agree with your comments. But let me add that there is a great difference between the two parties. Abbot is for life, (without life nothing makes sense) and Gillard is for killing, that is, killing babies. To me this makes it a huge difference between the two.
    Anne van Tilburg

  15. I think one of the reasons for apathy on the part of the Australian people is the politician’s disconnect from real people and the real world. More than ever now politicians have become a ruling class that throw the odd goody to the masses to keep them happy.

    Witness Mark Latham’s expose of the seedy underbelly of the Labour party and just how out of touch from the ‘working class’ they have become (Latham is actually one of the keenest critics of the current government).

    Damien Spillane

  16. Unfortunately, ever since Abbott became leader, he has tried to appease those who’ll never vote for him anyway. Exhibit 1: the increased tax on business to support paid maternity leave, but do nothing for stay-at-home-mums (as Bill has noted). Then he appeased the global warm-mongers by claiming that the Howard government should have signed the Kyoto fraud, and the grievance mongers by claiming that they should have made the futile “sorry” gesture politics. Now he’s thrown out a candidate who told the truth about sodomy and islamofascism.

    Someone has probably got at him. But he should instead learn from history: being Labor Lite doesn’t get anywhere, since all it does it annoy conservatives, while the leftists won’t vote for the imitation when they can have the real thing.

    Jonathan Sarfati, USA

  17. Jonathan

    True enough.

    But at least he is an improvement on Turnbull.

    Damien Spillane

  18. I watched the last half of Masterchef and consider that Adam & Callum were both winners on the night. Both were judged reasonably fairly on what they cooked and presented to the judges. I taped the debate and watched only a few minutes then turned it off in frustration at the obviously biased and shallow “worm”, which should be banned from a debate setting.
    Anthony McGregor

  19. In the recent UK elections, Evan Harris, atheist MP for Oxford was ousted partly because someone posted his voting record through every constituents doors. The Christian Institute produce a record showing how all MPs vote on vital issues: http://www.christian.org.uk/mpvotes.php

    I have briefly searched for an equivalent Australian site showing how Julia Gillard has voted on similar issues but could find nothing. Having said that, many people depressingly vote along party lines, irrespective of the character or behaviour of the person for whom they are voting.

    David Skinner, UK

  20. Congratulations Anne van Tilburg, you are 110% correct. I can’t speak about Master Chef, I don’t know what channel it on or at what time. As a widower for over 7 years, I have managed to teach myself how to cook 4 meals correctly. I keep rotating them, but I am always more than pleased when one of my children invites me to dinner. I don’t know about Frank Williamson, but concerning claims by anyone that the political parties have no differences or that they themselves are swing voters, I find those people are usually Labor voters – secret ones, but they feel quite strongly about it.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  21. “Unfortunately, ever since Abbott became leader, he has tried to appease those who’ll never vote for him anyway” – Dr. Sarfati. John Howard began his Prime Ministership with pro-family positions, but jettisoned much of it along the way. Why? Because I [we?] didn’t do enough to support those policies, and I [we?] allowed our opponents to dictate a contrary policy. If we want good policies and actions, it is WE who must fight for them. Otherwise, our opponents will simply use a good leader’s policies to beat him into oblivion. What do you readers think, please?
    Gerard Flood

  22. At the end of the day, politicians of all hues jettison morality, values, reason and democracy itself in order to gain power. A politician is either in power or not. I think democracy has gone past its sell by date.

    David Skinner, UK

  23. Hi Gerard,

    As Christians we must always keep up the fight in the public sphere for God’s commandments. Bill’s website is a wonderful avenue for keeping people constantly informed of the issues that concern Christians in the world. I agree that WE must fight for what we believe in, regardless of where we live, work etc. We can influence others by our very words, comments, opinions alone. We can make people think. And if our actions follow our words (as they should), better still.
    What I am saying is, don’t underestimate your solitary influence.
    And Frank, I would be happy to share some recipes with you!

    Jane Petridge

  24. Thanks Jane – don’t make them too hard. I’m sure I wouldn’t be as talented a cook as you are. My grandchildren love my 4 recipes, because I’ve had so much practice with those four, I cook them properly.
    kind regards
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  25. The Salt Shakers Christian Checklist will shortly be out thanks Peter and Jenny! Debate or no debate, if you havent put your email down at Salt Shakers do so now! it should only be a few days away from your inbox. Also, be aware that this checklist is not correlated on what the politicians or parties have to ‘say’ about what they will do, it is a correlation of their history, thus, the fruit speaks more than the false promises to be reelected. This is a significant amount of research and once you recieve it in your inbox, please say a prayer or donate to Salt shakers ministry to keep them at the outstanding work of standing on the towers and letting Christians know whats going on, thanks again Peter and Jenny at Salt Shakers and thanks Bill for your outstanding work in doing the same as well, blessings,
    Dorian Ballard

  26. Also, for those who dont know how the electorate works, just remember this, put Labor in the second last box and Greens in the last box on the ballot slip, no apologies for telling anyone this! lol, blessings,
    Dorian Ballard

  27. Thanks Dorian

    There is a group of people who work on each Christian Values Checklist, all of whom deserve recognition. Other key players include Warwick Marsh and Graham McLennan. As you say, it should be ready in a few days. It is not perfect, but it does give voters a pretty good idea of where seven parties stand on around 23 important issues.

    It is based entirely on the parties’ past voting records or stated policies. It is worth circulating widely. It does not tell people how to vote, it merely informs them as to where the parties stand on some crucial issues.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  28. Bill, re the “Christian Values Checklist”: it may be a service to voters if the compilers not release their results until after nominations have been finalised, and all significant groups have been assessed. The Checklist, you will no doubt remember, has an imperfect record in this area.
    Gerard Flood

  29. “I think democracy has gone past its sell by date.”

    David, alas and alack, it certainly has in the UK. Oz still has a slim chance.

    Kev Downes

  30. Thanks Gerard

    Actually, no I do not remember any such imperfect record.

    The election is just over three weeks away, and it takes time to widely disseminate such a checklist. Sure, it is always possible that in the next three weeks some new polices might emerge, or old ones might be altered. Anything can happen at the last minute. But what are you suggesting – that we put this out in December?

    I would think that 99% of basic policies and positions are pretty much now decided on and locked in, and a matter of the public record. Many believers and churches are asking us for our help here, and we cannot wait until the last second, or this checklist will do no good.

    The truth is, this has been worked on very carefully and thoroughly by a team of knowledgeable and careful workers. Hundreds of man hours go into checking every single question against every single party. And every one of these seven parties have existed for many decades now (except FF), so they all have their past voting records, position papers, policy statements and so on in the public arena. As I say, this does not make it perfect, but it isn’t all that bad.

    I guess all I can say to armchair critics is this: if you don’t like this checklist then please provide one of your own, with just as much thorough research, time and effort put into it.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  31. Apologies, i wasnt aware of any other as thorough checklist’s other than SaltShakers, yes credit due to such people as well, i must say the ministry work we do benefits greatly from these peoples hard work, thanks for the informing and be sure to look them up.
    Dorian Ballard

  32. Thanks Dorian

    Yes there are a number of groups and individuals that work together to produce the Christian Values Checklist. And a number of individuals could be singled out for all their hard work.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  33. Dorian, I think there’s only three such Christian checklists. The one put out by Salt Shakers which is contributed to by Bill and the others he mentioned, an online version based on a survey of candidates by Family Voice and the ACL still does something similar too I think.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  34. Thanks Ewan

    Just to clarify things, there is only one Christian Values Checklist. But yes, FV and the ACL do put out information sheets on where the parties stand as well, but these are three distinct and quite different things in many respects.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  35. I’ve looked at some of the past checklists and I must say they seem very limited in scope – almost every question is related to sex, drugs or abortion, and many are under state rather than federal jurisdiction anyway. There are many other issues that are important to a Christian’s vote in a federal election.

    I’m concerned that these so-called “Christian Values” are decided by a few right-wing activists and aren’t representative of Christians in general. This detracts from the credibility of the checklist.

    Rhonda Jacobsen, Sydney

  36. Thanks Rhoda

    But if you think that major issues such as the fundamental right to life, or the institutions of marriage and family, are not vital Christian concerns, then that tells us something about where you are coming from. Indeed, if such concerns are to be regarded as only “right-wing” then you are simply informing us of how left wing you must be.

    And you are wrong to suggest only a few concerns are covered. Usually there are between 20 to 30 different issues which are assessed.

    But as I have already said, no one is claiming it is a perfect document, and if it is not to your liking, then perhaps you should produce something of your own, instead of merely criticising those who working quite hard, seeking to make a difference here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  37. Bill,

    I looked at the 2007 Federal Election version. Out of 27 questions, 18 concerned marriage, sex, reproduction, abortion or sexuality and 3 concerned drugs.

    I don’t suggest these issues aren’t important, but there’s an imbalance there, and many political issues are missing entirely.

    In the preamble it is implied that these are the issues of concern to the 64% of the population that is Christian. I don’t think that is a reasonable assumption.

    As I said previously, many of the issues are under state jurisdiction,and I don’t understand why they would be highlighted as issues for a federal election.

    Rhonda Jacobsen

  38. Dear Bill,
    1. “impefect record”: On an earlier election, you agreed with me in writing re the need to include one long-standing pro-family Party, omitted from the checklist on that occasion.

    2. “we cannot wait until the last second”: Those interested in mounting a defence against the barabarism of Green Extremism in this election will have an opportunity to maximise their efforts if they complete their survey of the available supportive voting options AFTER nominations are known. To do otherwise is to restrict the pro-family constituency.

    3. “armchair critics”: Even armchair critics can sometimes help [but I haven’t ever personally been called that].

    Best wishes for effective pro-family action!

    Gerard Flood

  39. Thanks Gerard

    The party in question has been included for some time now. As to nominations, they close July 29. We hope to launch the checklist on the same day or soon thereafter. And the checklist judges the parties and their platforms, not individual candidates. So your complaints seem to be largely unwarranted.

    But we certainly will seek to be effective in pro-family and pro-faith activism, with or without the blessing of our many critics – friendly or otherwise! Thanks for your thoughts.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  40. To Rhonda, perhaps the issues addressed in the CVCL are not “representative of Christians in general”, but that could be because Christians today are not very representative of Christ! The CVCL represents those issues of highest biblical import.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  41. Thanks again Rhonda

    But it is not our intention to cover every political issue there is. Far from it. Indeed, as you can see, we try to keep this all on just one page. If we tried to cover everything we would have a small booklet at least, which most people would not read. Thus we try to cover some key Christian issues, especially those often ignored by the mainstream media, or even the parties themselves.

    And some issues are clear cut, such as the sanctity of life, or the importance of marriage and family. Other issues are far from clear cut however. What exactly does the Bible tell us about global warming Rhonda? Indeed, it does not say a thing about it. There are of course general principles about being good stewards of God’s creation (and we do include that on our checklist), but there are huge disagreements as to the reality, causes and cures of climate change even amongst the scientific community. Christians too are widely divided on this. So it would be silly to pretend that there is Christian unanimity on this topic, or that there is simply just one clear biblical answer on complex and technical issues such as climate change.

    As I mentioned, armchair critics are a dime a dozen. Those who would rather do the hard work of making something like this available, instead of just criticising it, are a much rarer breed.

    And finally, every one of the issues here are in fact Federal issues. Some may also be state issues as well, but we do not include purely state issues on a Federal election checklist. But bear in mind we also do state checklists for every state election.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  42. Ewan,

    I think it best to leave God to judge whether some Christians are more worthy than others. I’m always uncomfortable when a Christian proclaims that their beliefs are more Christ-like, or more biblically-based than others. Comes across as “holier than thou”.


    My criticisms are meant to be constructive. I think the present checklist is too narrowly-focused and would reach out more and be more widely accepted if it addressed other areas of concern to Christians.

    And I still disagree that the issues in the checklist are all Federal issues. Many laws surrounding marriage, abortion and drugs are state-based, as are censorship laws.

    Rhonda Jacobsen

  43. Thanks Rhonda

    At least you are consistent, even if consistently wrong! Marriage is purely a federal issue, and the others you mention are a combination of federal and state, depending on which aspect is under consideration. We do not put state-only issues on a federal checklist.

    And as to your ‘constructive criticism’, I have just penned a new piece which seeks to address some of the concerns of the army of armchair critics which regularly appears whenever one of these checklists is launched: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/07/29/christians-and-the-election/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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