Victorians vote for a change

The Labor Party led by Daniel Andrews has won the Victorian state election, defeating Premier Denis Napthine's Coalition government after just one term in power.

ACL's Victoria Director Dan Flynn talks about the result and discusses how ACL will continue to engage with all parties in the Victorian Parliament.

ACL congratulates Daniel Andrews on ALP win

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ACL Victorian director Dan Flynn said he looked forward to the new government continuing to engage with the Christian constituency.

“We were privileged to have Mr Andrews participate in our Make it Count leaders’ forum ahead of the election and numerous ALP candidates took part in local Meet Your Candidate Forums conducted by ACL across the state.”

The biggest issue for people of faith at the election was a Labor policy to restrict freedom of association by limiting the right of faith groups to employ staff who share their ethos.

“If implemented, this will be a blow to religious schools and other faith-based organisations,” Mr Flynn said.

“We call upon Labor to re-think this policy so that faith-based schools and organisations can continue to be free to maintain their ethos.

“A free society will tolerate diversity and freedom of association. There is no need for this basic human right to be restricted,” Mr Flynn said.

More than 4300 people emailed Mr Andrews and ALP candidates during the campaign expressing concern about Labor’s policy.

ACL held 16 local Meet Your Candidate Forums attended by a total of 1000 people across Victoria.

Mr Flynn expressed concern about the composition of the Upper House with the possible election of five Greens, a party with a non-mainstream social agenda.

The political front for the harmful pornography trade, the Australian Sex Party, may also obtain a seat in the Upper House.

“It will be more important than ever for people who support the values of human flourishing to speak up over the next four years. We can no longer stay silent,” Mr Flynn said.

School freedom denied by Daniel Andrews

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Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews’ plans to force the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria programme on to every government high school threatens the autonomy of principals and school communities, the Australian Christian Lobby has said.

ACL Victoria Director Dan Flynn said individual schools should retain the discretion to opt in to the Safe Schools programme or an alternative anti-bullying strategy.

“Not every school community wants to adopt the Safe Schools programme,” Mr Flynn said. “Some principals have adopted the system while many others prefer an alternative approach.”

Mr Flynn added that the Safe Schools programme was controversial and many parents were opposed to the messages it was sending.

“ACL strongly opposes bullying for any reason, but Safe Schools has the potential to increase gender confusion in young people,” Mr Flynn said. “Its promotional material includes an image of a boy wearing a dress. It wants to allow boys to use girls’ bathrooms and girls to use boys’ bathrooms.”

This is another concerning attack on school freedom, with the ALP also planning to introduce an “inherent requirements” test into the Equal Opportunity Act.

“The inherent requirements test would severely restrict the fundamental freedom of faith-based schools to appoint staff who uphold the ethos and character of the school,” Mr Flynn said.

“This policy has caused enormous concern among the community,” he said.

Mr Andrews’ announcement on the weekend also included a promise to appoint a dedicated commissioner for gender and sexuality and legalising same-sex adoption.

“The raft of policies announced by Mr Andrews on the weekend shows he has been captured by a radical agenda that tramples on the fundamental freedoms of others, including the school community,” Mr Flynn said.

Geoff Shaw MP tells Christians to take responsibility combating homelessness

Gateway Worship and Creative Arts Centre held a forum for the candidates of the Frankston electorate to present their opinions, in relation to the upcoming election, to the 150 Christians in attendance.

The candidates who attended consisted of Independent member Geoff Shaw MP, Sean Armistead (Liberal), Anthony Wallace (Australian Christians), Jeanette Swain (Greens), Alan Nicholls (People Power, Victoria), Jamie Miller (Sex Party), and Independent member Reade Smith.

After each member had presented their pitch, the candidates where given an opportunity to answer questions that were areas of concern. Some of the questions stressed by the public included the restrictions of religious freedoms, proposed by the ALP, in employment rights of Christian schools and other faith based organisations. Along with this, policies regarding domestic violence, transport and industrial issues were discussed.

Detailed discussion was conducted regarding reforms to the abortion laws, renewable energy and support for chaplaincy, with Sean Armistead announcing that the Coalition government has promised $5 million for chaplaincy in Victorian hospitals. Drug use, the amenity of Frankston, and homelessness within the area were also topics that were addressed. In particular Geoff Shaw MP called on the church to take responsibility in combating the issue of homelessness, whereas Anthony Wallace advocated the collaboration between the government, church and non church agencies in bringing change.

The forum provided the opportunity for the community to present their concerns to the candidates, and the candidates to communicate their plans, in a respectful and engaging environment that was beneficial to those who attended.

Countdown to the Victorian election

The Victorian election takes place on Saturday, November 29. ACL's Victoria Director Dan Flynn has been running ACL's campaigns in the lead up to the election, as well as running Meet Your Candidate forums around the state.

In this interview he covers the main issues at stake, and discusses the political mood in Victoria as we look ahead to election day.

RELATED:

Click here to help protect religious freedom for schools in Victoria. You can read about Labor's policy to change the Equal Opportunity Act, and write to Labor candidates expressing your views.

Click here to listen to Dr Jane Thompson on The Political Spot explain the importance of amending the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008.

You can also listen to previous episodes of The Political Spot covering Victorian election issues:


  • Click here to hear Catriona Wansbrough, principal of St Andrews Christian College, talk about school freedom (November 11).

  • Click here to hear Dan Flynn discuss the school freedoms issue (November 4)

  • Click here to hear Dan Flynn talk about the Meet Your Candidate forums throughout Victoria (November 18)


 

Victoria's abortion law and the right to free conscience

One of the key issues leading up to the Victorian election has been the issue of freedom of conscience for medical professionals under the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008.

Dr Jane Thompson is a medical doctor and a member of the group Doctors Conscience. In this interview, she explains the problem with the law in Victoria and how it needs to be fixed.

ACL Praises Church Leaders' Resolve Against ALP Policy

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In a remarkable show of unity, Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Coptic, Lutheran, and Presbyterian leaders have this week affirmed the existing equal opportunity laws and opposed the ALP’s intended restrictions on employment in religious organisations.

This joint statement shows how important freedom of association and freedom of religion is to a huge number of people in Victoria,” ACL's Victorian director Dan Flynn said.

The effect of the ALP proposal is that a Christian church will no longer have a right to employ a Christian secretary if a non-Christian applicant is more qualified, unless the church can prove to the Human Rights Commission that religion is an essential part of the role. This could result in people with opposing values being employed in Christian churches.

The proposed ALP changes, objected to by the church leaders, would require faith based schools to prove to the Human Rights Commission that preferring to employ a Christian teacher over a non-Christian teacher was because faith is an essential requirement of that teaching role.

Schools and religious organisations will be caught up in lengthy, costly and divisive court cases instead of delivering education and other services.

The statement of the church leaders said that “proposals to change the equal opportunity laws would allow judges to decide fundamental doctrines, beliefs and principles tenants of a faith for religious bodies.”

“Some faith-based schools seek to uphold a particular ethos and environment by employing people who will uphold that ethos regardless of the role they play in the school,” Mr Flynn said.

“Many parents wish to give their children an education consistent with their faith. Faith based education is not just about the content of the education but the context in which it is taught. This right is acknowledged in international human rights law and is now threatened by the ALP’s policy,” he said.

Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier said in the statement that “The current Equal Opportunity laws strike a fair balance between the right to equality, freedom of association and religious liberty”.

Mr Flynn said that during the Victorian election campaign, ACL has conducted 14 “Meet Your Candidate” forums across Victoria, from Bairnsdale to Ballarat. Almost universally, when questioned about the proposed changes, ALP candidates have defended them on the basis that they were supported by the Catholic Church in 2010.

“It is now clear that the Catholic Church and other major denominations do not support the reinsertion of the “inherent requirements test” in the Act,” he said.

Mr Flynn added that over 3,500 individuals have emailed Daniel Andrews and his candidates explaining their opposition to the policy.

“The ALP’s policy has been a key issue in ACL’s election campaigning and has created enormous grass roots concern across the state,” he said.

What the candidates have been saying - Victoria Votes

With the Victorian election less than two weeks away ACL is campaigning around the state to bring the Christian community into contact with the candidates.

ACL's Victoria Director Dan Flynn has organised more than a dozen Meet Your Candidate forums and has seen a great level of engagement. He talks about the campaign in this Political Spot interview.

Religious freedom a major concern at Forrest Hill candidates' forum

On Wednesday night, Crossway Baptist Church hosted ACL’s Meet Your Candidate Forum for the electorate of Forest Hill.

The seat is currently held by a margin of just 3.5% by Neil Angus (LIB), who was in attendance together with Lower House candidates Pauline Richards (ALP) and Lynne Maddison (Australian Christians).

Among the audience were Upper House candidates Milton Wilde (PUP) and Pat Shea (DLP), who although not part of the formal proceedings, made themselves available to meet with the Christian constituency.

Peter Berry chaired the evening and introduced the candidates. All three speakers spoke of their Christian credentials and work within their respective churches, and Richards, a practicing Catholic read from the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt 25) as a motivating verse in her life.

Half of the questions from the audience expressed concern over Labor’s intentions to remove the exemptions under the Equal Opportunity Act, which allow faith based school’s to employ staff who share their beliefs.

Another significant theme among the questions was late term abortion, and in particular Richards was asked how should could reconcile her faith with her membership of Emily’s List.

Richards said that although she understood her position was not popular with the Christian constituency, she felt that it was purely a matter for a woman and her doctor.

Angus and Maddison both received applause after expressing pro-life positions although Angus was queried as to the inaction by the government to reverse any of the
provisions of the previous Labor government. He stated that it was a numbers game and that attempting change without the numbers may result in lost opportunities later. He expressed hope that the balance of the upcoming parliament would provide the opportunity
for change.

Labor's Shadow Education Minister questioned on school freedom

Candidates James Merlino MP (ALP), Mark Verschuur (Liberal), Mike Clarke (The Greens) and Jennifer McAdam (Animal Justice Party) made a strong connection with the Christian constituents in Monbulk on Tuesday 11 November.

The forum was hosted by Rev. Andrew Fisher at Belgrave South Baptist Church.

All candidates spoke of their own Christian education and faith.

James Merlino, the deputy leader of the ALP, spoke about his positive engagement with the Australian Christian Lobby both in his time around the Cabinet table and later in Shadow Cabinet

The discussion ranged form transport to industry with a strong focus in the education sector.
Education issues ranged from principal autonomy to funding and the TAFE sector.

Pointed questions were asked in relation to the ALP's proposed policy of limiting a Christian School's capacity to employ staff by applying a test of whether the faith or religious practice is an inherent requirement of the role.

There was much conjecture about the effect of the "inherent requirement of the role" restriction tin practice.

James Merlino asserted that this test would not effect the employment of a teacher in a Christian school where faith is an integral part of the life of the school. Mark Verschuur countered with a quote from the then CEO of the Equal Rights and Human Rights Commission in 2009, Dr Helen Szoke that "the roles of religious education teacher or a chaplain in a religious school would pass the test and could be required to share the school's religious beliefs, but in the case of office staff or the maths teacher, it will need to be made explicit how religion is relevant to the job" Mark Verschuur affirmed that the Coalition was committed to maintaining the capacity of Christian schools to employ according to their faith.

In the context of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the candidates were asked how they would vote to protect children before birth. James Merlino recounted his vote against the Abortion law as a matter of conscience in 2008 and his vote on amendments that would ban partial birth abortion, including his amendment seeking to allowing a doctor a right not to refer for abortion.

Both Mark Verscheer and Mike Clarke indicated that they did not support late term abortion.

There was agreement that adoption laws in Victoria ought to be eased.

All candidates expressed support for the continuation of Special Religious Instruction.

Why Labor's policy will hurt Christian schools

Freedoms taken for granted are being radically re-shaped and most of us are largely oblivious.

If elected on November 29, Victorian Labor is vowing to strip religious schools and organisations of the freedom to select staff who share their ethos.

This is akin to saying a political party should no longer have the right to employ people who share their political philosophy.

It means human rights bureaucrats and courts would determine the employment policies of religious communities.
This is a breach of the human right of religious freedom.

Even the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees religious freedom and the right of parents to educate their children in the religion of their choice.

Many religious schools and organisations value the freedom to require all staff, not just those with religious roles, to be adherents to their religion.

This helps create the environment that gives the school or organisation its distinctive.

Parents value this in schools because they know that their children will be in an environment where everyone from the gardener to the maths teacher share and manifest the values of the home.

This is a precious freedom to so many people and its application hurts no one else in society.

It is not for a government to take away this freedom.

Freedom of religion is closely linked to freedom of association.

Governments should not be dictating the make up of groups who wish to freely associate unless of course there are national security implications.

Requiring the person answering the phone to be a Muslim is the right of an Islamic school in the same way it is the right of a Christian school.

Already 1500 ACL supporters have emailed Mr Andrews and Labor candidates urging them to re-think the policy.
If you live in Victoria and have not yet taken action, please do so.

Still on Victorian politics, it was good to hear the federal Attorney General George Brandis say last week he was "unalterably opposed" to the anti-conscience provisions in Victoria's abortion laws.

Victorian and Tasmanian abortion laws compel a medical practitioner to refer a woman for an abortion, even if they are opposed to the taking of human life in this way.

"It is wrong for the state to violate the conscience of a man or a woman," Senator Brandis told a religious freedom conference organised by Freedom for Faith at the University of Queensland Law School last week.

Wendouree candidates face questions about school freedom

The warmth of democracy was on display as Wendouree candidates and voters exchanged views in Victorias equal most marginal seat, at a forum on Wednesday night, organised by the Australian Christian Lobby and Ballarat churches.

Sitting member Sharon Knight MP along with Craig Coltman (Liberal),Alice Barnes(The Greens) and Liam Hastie (ASP) engaged in discussion with a lively audience on issues from healthcare to the East West tunnel.

Sharon Knight spoke of the importance of advancing education and healthcare in Ballarat and the need to address youth unemployment.

Liam Hastie said he was a "regular guy" who was passionate about the separation of church and state and was not supportive of the chaplaincy program.

Alice Barns addressed asylum seekers and climate change. She also expressed support for $1 gambling limits and stated that outdoor advertising should be suitable for children.

Craig Coltman said that it was a priority of the Liberal government to defend religious freedom.

He spoke of the ALP's proposal to limit faith based schools and organisations rights to employ on the basis of faith by applying an "inherent requirement of the role" test as having the effect that faith based schools could be forced to hire people who disagree with their objectives.

The spirited question and answer session involved a question by a uniformed paramedic about ambulance ramping times and a question by a doctor asking why it is that a doctor who conscientiously objects to abortion has to refer a patient seeking one to a doctor who will perform it.

Points of difference abounded. All candidates said that they supported Victoria's abortion laws except Craig Coltman who said that he had concerns about late term abortion and the restrictions currently placed on a doctors conscience.

Taking a question about the rights of faith based schools to employ according to their faith and ethos, Sharon Knight stated that a person in the school having a role in the sharing of the faith could be employed on the basis of their faith but not the administration staff, cleaner or gardiner. Craig Coltman recounted his experience at school of being positively influenced by administrative and other staff who were vital in his formation and supported the right of faith based schools to recruit all staff according to the faith and ethos of the school.

All candidates responded to additional questions about productivity, balanced budgets and support for carers and welfare programs.

Dan Flynn, The Victorian director of the Australian Christian Lobby, stated to the audience that there is no separation between churchgoers and politics as the audience heads to the polls on November 29.

Rev. Stephen Parish of Wendouree Baptist Church concluded the evening by praying for the Victorian election and the candidates.

How candidates in Victoria's most marginal seat reached out to Christians

Candidates connect with Christian voters at Yan Yean Meet Your Candidate Forum

Las night Danielle Green MP (ALP) and Sam Ozturk (Lib) attended the ACL Yan Yean Candidates Forum held at St John's Anglican Church, Diamond Creek.

Yan Yean is Victoria's most marginal seat, equal with Wendouree.

Danielle spoke engagingly of her Catholic upbringing and her connection to the electorate that she has served as an MP for 12 years, most notably through the bushfires. In particular she spoke of the contribution of the churches in the community.

Sam spoke of the Liberal Party's commitment to Freedom of religion as demonstrated by its support for the freedom of Christian Schools and religious bodies to employ according to their faith and ethos.

The candidates in replying to questions on abortion took different approaches. Sam Ozturk said that he shared the questioner's concerns about late term abortion. Danielle Green said that the current law was passed after extensive consultation and that the number of abortions post 22 weeks is sometimes exaggerated. She said that she considers this a matter for a women and her doctor but noted that, in the ALP, abortion is a matter for a conscience vote.

In response to questions about Special Religious Instruction, Danielle Green noted that more than half of Labor's front bench went to Catholic schools. She said that it is important that SRI instructors are well trained and accredited so that SRI can be broadly supported.

Sam Ozturk said that the Coalition was very supportive of SRI and had this week promised $2 million funding for Access Ministries.

When questioned about the ALP's proposed reinstatement of the "inherent requirement of the role" test to be applied to Christian Schools when they seek to prefer staff who support their faith and ethos, the answers differed greatly.

Danielle Green said that she supported the changes to the Equal Opportunity Act in 2010 when the ALP originally inserted the inherent requirement test. She said that this test was supported by the Catholic church. She said that this struck the right balance between freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination, particularly when Christian schools were taking taxpayer money.
She stated that the ALP had just pledged $120 million to independent schools (including Catholic schools) in high growth areas.

Sam Ozturk said that the reinstatement of the "inherent requirement of the role" test would lead to litigation against schools. He said that he personally and the Coalition support the current law which allows Christian schools to employ according to an applicant's adherence to faith and ethos.

In responding to a question on chaplaincy, Danielle Green said that she did not support the "playing off" of welfare workers against chaplaincy. She said she didn't support the current chaplaincy model.

Sam Ozturk indicated his personal support and the Liberal Party's support for the current chaplaincy program.

The Forum was closed in prayer by Senior Minister Tim Johnson, St John's Anglican Church.
The Forum was an excellent opportunity for church members from the electorate to meet, question and understand the candidates.

ACL thanks Danielle Green and Sam Ozturk for making the time to attend. Daniel Sacchero (The Greens) was an understandable apology due to his father’s surgery on the day of the Forum.

ACL urges vote for candidates supporting doctors’ freedom of conscience

With both the Premier and the Opposition leader giving the green light to a private members bill on doctors’ conscience in abortion, the Australian Christian Lobby has urged voters to vote for pro freedom of conscience candidates regardless of party.

The Victorian Premier and Opposition Leader have both stated that they will allow a conscience vote if a private members’ bill is introduced to restore freedom to doctors to decline to participate in abortion.

Denis Napthine and Daniel Andrews were responding to questions from Christian leaders at the Australian Christian Lobby’s Make it Count forum at Queens’ Hall, Parliament House on 23 September 2014.

Their commitments come following a question at the forum about Melbourne Doctor Mark Hobart, who faced sanctions for declining to assist a couple who wanted their baby girl aborted so they could try again for a boy.

“If a private members’ bill was introduced then we would certainly allow a conscience vote,” Dr Napthine said.

“My position would be to afford a conscience vote,” Mr Andrews said.

ACL Victorian Director Dan Flynn welcomed the leaders’ commitments to allow a parliamentary vote on whether or not doctors should be forced to participate in abortion by making a referral for an abortion.

“Victorian voters who value life are urged to vote for a pro-freedom of conscience candidate from either party at the 29 November election”, Mr Flynn said.

Napthine and Andrews answer questions from Christians

The Australian Christian Lobby's Make It Count event in Victoria featured Premier Denis Napthine and Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews addressing Christians and church leaders. Each were asked a series of questions on issues of concern to Christians in Victoria.

ACL's Daniel Simon presents some highlights from the leaders' comments.

What do Napthine and Andrews' answers mean for Christians?

ACL's Make It Count event featured Premier Denis Napthine and Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews addressing Christians in the lead up to the Victorian election in November.

ACL Victoria Director Dan Flynn hosted the event, and he spoke to ACL's Daniel Simon about the evening.

DANIEL SIMON: Welcome to the Political Spot. I’m Daniel Simon. With the Victorian election coming up in November, the Australian Christian Lobby has held it’s Make it Count event, featuring Premier Denis Napthine and Leader of the Opposition Daniel Andrews. Dan Flynn is the Victorian Director of ACL and he’s here to talk about the evening. Hello, Dan.

DAN FLYNN: How are you Daniel?

DANIEL SIMON: Yeah well thanks. Now well done getting the leaders together for this event. Was it a successful evening?

DAN FLYNN: Look it was a successful evening. Both Denis Napthine and Daniel Andrews were very keen to participate. As were, say over ten denominations, certainly all the main denominations, probably nine out of ten of them were present and represented either by their leaders of a high level delegate. It was a very exciting function in that respect. There was a great level of engagement by these political leaders.

DANIEL SIMON: Right and what are the main points of agreement between the two parties that might have come out on the night? And for that matter, what are the areas of disagreement as well?

DAN FLYNN: Daniel I think areas of agreement were the need to do something about gambling, concerns about domestic violence and the ICE epidemic in Victoria. The ways of addressing those were slightly different but a great deal of about the need to address these social evils. And youth unemployment was also in that category.

It was a very harmonious engagement by both leaders who you could tell, there was much that was agreed about but the policy approaches were slightly different.

I suppose turning to differences, and this is probably just a way of addressing those things that were agreed upon. Domestic violence - the ALP are proposing a Royal Commission. Something with the authority of the Crown to report back in twelve months. On the ICE epidemic, the ALP said there would be a taskforce to report within a hundred days. So there was some clear outcomes there by the ALP in terms of their policies in addressing those matters. And Premier Napthine, he articulate a very clear position in terms of the stats and indicated, for example, that under the Coalition government the actual losses to gambling have actually dropped in Premier Napthine’s Coalition term of government. So there were matters of some other more extensive disagreement but considerable unity shown on the night.

DANIEL SIMON: Now the leaders were asked a series of questions by church and community leader about issues of particular concern to Christians, including some of the ones you’ve mentioned. Were there any significant takeaways in terms of commitments or promises made by leaders, to the Christian constituency.

DAN FLYNN: Yes Daniel. Both leaders indicated that if a private member’s bill was proposed to restore freedom to doctors who declined to participate in abortion by referrals to other doctors who would perform abortions, both the Premier and the Opposition Leader said that they would allow a private member’s bill, and that they would allow a conscience vote. No doubt somebody will bring forward a private member’s bill and there is assurance that that will be given air time and a conscience vote will be allowed.

DANIEL SIMON: Ok, was there anything that disappointing or maybe concerning from the leaders?

DAN FLYNN: To me the most disappointing element of this came from Daniel Andrews. Firstly he spoke about the referral for abortions and said that look the law, as it stands in his view is appropriate, in that somebody seeking an abortion, if they meet with a doctor who has a conscientious objection, that doctor refers that person to somebody who doesn’t have a conscientious objection.

One other point of concern was a point of difference about the capacity of Christian organisations to employ staff. And this would relate particularly to Christian schools. And the Coalition’s position is that faith-based schools can recruit according to faith and values and ethos. The view articulated by the ALP was that it isn’t necessary that such law exists and they propose to change the law so that a school that’s wishing to discriminate on that basis must be able to establish that it’s an inherent requirement of that role that the person be a Christian or have a certain ethos.

DANIEL SIMON: So this goes to the religious freedom of Christian schools?

DAN FLYNN: Yes, it certainly does and it’s something that really strikes hard at the way in which Christian schools are organised and I think this will be a major election issue.

DANIEL SIMON: Dan Flynn, thank you very much for joining me.

DAN FLYNN: Thank you for your time, Daniel.

What Denis Napthine and Daniel Andrews told Christians

November’s Victorian election could be the most important in a generation.

So it is important to see Christians participating in the political process and making a stand for godly values.

On Tuesday night ACL hosted Make it Count, a pre-election event in Melbourne. We were privileged to have the Premier Denis Napthine and Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews address Christians on important social issues.

This was an opportunity for the church to be informed about party policies in the lead up to the November election.

Around 150 people across most Victorian denominations gathered to hear the leaders’ views on issues like abortion and gambling.

Denis NapthineCoalition running on their record
The Premier used the opportunity to highlight the government’s record in these areas.

Responding to a question from Reverend Paul Arnott about problem gambling, Dr Napthine said money lost to poker machines has decreased since his government’s election.

Dr Napthine said if re-elected, faith-based organisations would continue to be able to preference prospective staff members who share their beliefs.

“The Coalition strongly believes in freedom of choice, especially with respect to religion, belief and association.

“We believe that schools and faith-based organisations should have the right to employ people who share those values and beliefs,” he said.

Daniel AndrewsLabor looks to social issues
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews outlined some of the new measures his government would introduce, if elected, to tackle social problems.

Mr Andrews promised a conscience vote should a private members’ bill be introduced to allow doctors to decline to participate in abortions, by making referrals for them. Dr Napthine made the same commitment.

Answering a question from Reverend Gayle Hill on domestic violence, Mr Andrews committed to establishing a royal commission into the problem if elected.

Mr Andrews also promised to set up a taskforce to report on the ice epidemic in the state. The taskforce would need to report to parliament within the first 100 days.

“This is a very, very real problem. It’s poison; it’s ruining communities,” he said.

Victorians will go to the polls on November 29. Please be praying for a godly outcome.

Victorian Premier and Opposition Leader pledge to allow conscience vote on forcing doctors to participate in abortion

MEDIA RELEASE

The Victorian Premier and Opposition Leader will allow a conscience vote if a private members’ bill is introduced to restore freedom to doctors to decline to participate in abortion.

Denis Napthine and Daniel Andrews were responding to questions from Christian leaders at the Australian Christian Lobby’s Make it Count forum at Queens’ Hall, Parliament House last night.
Their commitments come following sanctions imposed on Melbourne Doctor Mark Hobart, who declined to assist a couple who wanted their baby girl aborted so they could try again for a boy.

“If a private members’ bill was introduced then we would certainly allow a conscience vote,” Dr Napthine said.

“My position would be to afford a conscience vote,” Mr Andrews said.

ACL Victorian Director Dan Flynn welcomed the leaders’ commitments to allow a parliamentary vote on whether or not doctors should be forced to participate in abortion by making a referral for an abortion.

“No one should be forced to go against their conscience on an issue which involves the taking of a human life,” Mr Flynn said.

The leaders were asked about a range of issues including domestic violence, freedom of religion, poker machine reform and the ice epidemic.

Asked whether “your Government (would) commission independent research into whether there are features in poker machines that lead to gambling addiction”, Mr Andrews committed to examining “the best research, the best evidence”.

On family violence, Dr Napthine said: “Men particularly need to stand up”.

Mr Andrews said family violence was the leading cause of death or disability for women aged 45 and under and was “national disgrace”.

On religious freedom, Mr Flynn expressed disappointment about Labor’s election policy, reiterated last night by Mr Andrews, to amend Equal Opportunity laws to diminish the freedom of faith-based schools to employ staff who share their ethos.

Dr Napthine was called away from the forum to deal with last night’s terrorism-related shooting of an Islamic extremist just moments before Mr Andrews concluded taking questions.

The pre-election Make it Count event was attended by 150 Christian leaders from a wide cross-section of denominations and churches.