would hope that Christians would look at their vote in every
instance by weighing up against their faith belief,”
says Jim Wallace, the Australian Christian Lobby's executive
I believe that you’ve got to apply that equally to
parties that call themselves Christian, parties that call
themselves family values and individuals. From my point
of view, I don’t think we want all Christians on one
side of politics. We need to see a healthy sprinkling of
Christians on all sides of politics so that that Christian
influence is carried into all of the party rooms and caucuses
around the country.”
Who to vote for can be a tough choice and one which isn't necessarily
made less so by the inclusion of Christian candidates on the election
The Australian Christian Lobby is among those calling on Christians
across the country to make an informed decision when they vote at
the Federal Election in October and weigh up both the parties and
candidates they elect to support against their Christian values.
“I would hope that Christians would look at their vote in
every instance by weighing up against their faith belief,”
says Jim Wallace, the organisation’s executive chairman.
“And I believe that you’ve got to apply that equally
to parties that call themselves Christian, parties that call themselves
family values and individuals. From my point of view, I don’t
think we want all Christians on one side of politics. We need to
see a healthy sprinkling of Christians on all sides of politics
so that that Christian influence is carried into all of the party
rooms and caucuses around the country.”
To that end, the ACL are conducting candidates forums in as many
as 35 different electorates in every state, mainly in marginal seats,
which allow people to question their candidates on a range of issues
In addition, they are also publishing a voters guide which will
feature the results of candidates’ answers to a series of
questions which Wallace says the ACL believe “indicates where
they stand on Christian values”.
Around 150 candidates had as of late last week responded to the
questionnaires which include questions on such subjects as whether
they would support opening each day of Federal Parliament with a
Christian prayer, whether they would oppose any moves to legalise
voluntary euthanasia and whether they are a regular churchgoer.
While there are candidates on all sides of politics who have declared
themselves Christians (Wallace says that about a third of the 150
members in the House of Representatives consistently represent Christian
values), one party running in this election which has declared itself
as a “Christian party” is the Christian Democratic Party.
With origins which date back to the mid-Seventies, the CDP is this
year fielding candidates in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia,
Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. They include Reverend
Fred Nile who has resigned from the New South Wales parliament to
stand for the Senate.
Wallace believes that having a party which overtly declares itself
Christian is important. “We do need, I think, an overtly Christian
party because otherwise we can’t calculate or identify the
size of the Christian vote,” says Wallace.
“And I think it is very important that we are able to do that
because political leverage and influence between elections really
depends on the size of that vote, to be honest. So I think...it’s
important Christians use that preferential system to identify the
size of this Christian constituency by placing that number one vote
for a purely Christian or family values party and then applying
their preferences after that.”
This election campaign has also seen considerable exposure given
to relative newcomer the Family First Party, particularly because
of the links some of its candidates have to Pentecostal churches
such as the Assemblies of God.
Launched two years ago in South Australia (where it won an upper
house seat), Family First is not a Christian party. Rather it is
running on a platform of “family values” which includes
commitments to support legislation which results in the “health,
welfare and unity” of families and to assist families in building
a safe and secure future through the provision of affordable health,
education and housing.
Wallace says that while it is important party policies are considered
in making a decision who to vote for, an individual candidate's
views - regardless of what the party’s overall policy is -
is also important.
“On a lot of the issues that we’re concerned about are,
for both sides of politics, a conscience vote so that the actual
person that we put in parliament becomes important. If it’s
a conscience vote we'd like to know that the person we put in there,
regardless of party, is going to vote for the Christian perspective
and support a Christian view.”
Wallace adds that he would like to see parties allow greater use
of a conscience vote.
“We’d like to see the Labour party in particular to
give its members more opportunity to exercise conscience votes,”
he says. “At the moment it tends to allow them to exercise
conscience votes on life issues...but we’d like to see that
much extended so people could exercise a conscience vote on a whole
range of moral issues.”
• The results of ACL’s questionnaire and details
of how to obtain a DVD on how the preference system works, visit