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Voters urged to apply an ethical test to policies

By: NSW Council of Churches
Friday, 6 September 2013, 23:26 (EST)
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As the 2013 federal election campaign draws to a close, the NSW Council of Churches has urged voters to consider the moral implications of party policies as they go to the polls.

"Many Australians do not support a radical change to the meaning of marriage for Australian society. The NSW Council of Churches strongly supports the biblical principle of marriage exclusively between one man and one woman. Alternatives to this longstanding principle are not part of our nation's culture and heritage," Council President, the Reverend Dr Ross Clifford, said.

"We deplore Prime Minister Rudd's recent about-face on the definition of marriage. We reject his argument that the biblical teaching on Christian love implies the need to endorse proposals to radically change the meaning of marriage for future generations," Dr Clifford said.

On asylum seeker policy, neither the federal Labor Government nor the federal Coalition had policies that satisfied biblical teaching and Christian responsibility, and the NSW Council of Churches urged both sides of politics to adopt more compassionate immigration policies during the next term of government.

"Both the Prime Minister and the federal Opposition Leader identify as Christians, and ought to know where to draw the line between political pragmatism and moral principle. Punishing rather than protecting asylum seekers is unacceptable for a developed nation with a strong economy and a responsibility to uphold its international human rights obligations," Public Affairs Director for the NSW Council of Churches, the Reverend Rod Benson, said.

Other significant public policy issues had received too little attention during this election campaign, Rev Benson said. While gambling reform is largely a matter for the States and Territories, last year the Gillard Government introduced the first ever federal legislation on gambling.

Much more could be done to implement effective harm minimisation strategies, including stronger regulation of gambling advertising, a commitment to introduce mandatory recommitment technology for all poker machines in Australia, and a $1 bet limit for all pokies. If enforced, such laws would go a long way to addressing the well documented public health risks to Australians at risk of problem gambling.

On foreign aid, Dr Clifford said it was morally unacceptable for Australia to be the third largest recipient of its own foreign aid budget, and the intention of the Coalition to slash $4.5 billion from the foreign aid budget over the forward estimates period to fund domestic infrastructure projects was similarly flawed from a Christian ethical perspective. Dr Clifford urged all federal politicians to support the maintenance of existing foreign aid budget levels and to call for increased funding to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Voters were encouraged to consider the moral teachings of their faith and apply an ethical test to party policies as they cast their votes on Saturday.



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