MR: Christian Lobby congratulates WA Premier on election win
For release: Saturday, 9th March 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby has congratulated the Liberal Party on its resounding win in the Western Australian election and looks forward to the government following through on its commitments to the Christian constituency.
ACL’s WA director Rhys Vallance said Christians welcomed Premier Colin Barnett comments regarding euthanasia, religious freedom and chaplaincy at last month’s leaders address attended by more than 800 Christians.
“On euthanasia, Mr Barnett reiterated his opposition to creating “a legal structure that established a framework for ending a life” and Christians expect this to be honoured in the next four years,” Mr Vallance said.
“He also spoke of his support for religious freedom and faith based education when he said ‘freedom of choice, freedom of religion is fundamental to Australian society and a logical consequence of that is freedom in education’.
“On the importance of chaplains in schools Mr Barnett committed an extra $2 million dollars per year for chaplaincy if re-elected,” Mr Vallance said.
Mr Vallance said that in relation to prostitution reform in the state, the ACL would continue to lobby the government to investigate the Swedish example which criminalises the purchase of sex.
“Although the Premier refused to commit to send a parliamentary delegation to Sweden to investigate this policy, he did suggest it could be investigated when the new parliament sits,” Mr Vallance said.
Mr Vallance said the ACL was pleased to engage with both the Liberal and Labor Party in organising the Make it Count event in Perth and also in organising smaller forums for Christians to meet with their local candidates.
WA Make it Count: Q&A transcript now available
WA Make it Count 2013 - Q and A with Colin Barnett and Mark McGowan from Australian Christian Lobby on Vimeo.
The Australian Christian Lobby held a Make it Count event in Western Australia on February 26th in the lead up to the election on March 9th.
Premier Colin Barnett and Opposition Leader Mark McGowan answered a variety of questions from Christian leaders (facilitated by ACL's Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton) on issues such as housing, abortion, euthanasia, marriage and outdoor advertising.
You can watch the video above.
A transcript of the Q and A session at the event is available below.
WA MAKE IT COUNT 2013 - Q&A WITH PREMIER COLIN BARNETT AND OPPOSITION LEADER MARK MCGOWAN
Lyle Shelton: (00:06) Right. The format for this next part of the evening, which is the Q&A session, is that we have a number of our Christian leaders who will ask questions on our behalf of the two leaders. I will call each of the questioners to the microphone on either side. The two political leaders here will have two minutes each to answer, with a bell at ‘30 seconds to go’, and a double bell when the time is up. So in consultation with the church leaders we have quite carefully through this consultation process framed tonight's questions to help us think in more helpful ways about issues of key concern, which are often sadly caricatured in our public discourse. That's a few big words there to say. Sometimes things perhaps aren't taken as seriously as they should be and tonight's an opportunity to have a bit more of a thoughtful discussion. So I hope tonight's questions can help us to think more deeply about some of the very important unresolved social issues confronting our community, and perhaps even tonight just might be able to be a catalyst for some change for the common good. Well the first question tonight will be - and we'll start with the questions addressed to the Premier initially and then we'll go turn about -, is from Pastor Dale Hewitt. He's the leader of the Apostolic Church in Western Australia. Pastor Dale, will you come to the microphone thank you.
Dale Hewitt: (01:42) The current government has rolled out the Suicide Preventions Strategy and has stated an ongoing commitment to mental health. These are very positive developments, however, the strategy is programmed to end in June this year, and there is still a great need for services to assist young people with mental health issues. There is particular concern for the high levels of depression that exists among young people and the fact that suicide remains an ongoing problem among young people. What commitments can the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition make that will reassure us that the mental well-being of young people is a priority for their future governments, and what plans do they have to increase support to young people in the area of mental health?
Colin Barnett: (02:36) Thank you for that question. I think if you believe that funding is going to stop, you are probably looking at treasury forward estimates rather than the budgets of the government. Can I assure you that funding will continue in the area of suicide prevention, and we have been very strong as a government in supporting groups such as Lifeline and Youth Focus and also in rural areas where there are again difficult circumstances. I think that's important, and I know from direct experience that some of these suicide prevention organisations are finding it difficult because of increasing demands on their services, and also some of them are finding it more difficult to retain some of their corporate sponsorship, so the government role will certainly continue, and I think in addition to funding that, I will use my minute to just explain the step-up-step-down facilities. One was opened in June about 3 or 4 weeks ago and the minister, Helen Morton told the story of a mother of young girl - a teenage girl - who was in depression and as I said before, about to hit the floor. The mother took her to the public hospital. She was not sick enough to be admitted, and so the prognosis was that you've got to get worse before you will be admitted. Predictably she got worse, and she was admitted, and hopefully things turned out OK for her, but the step-up-step down means that there will be a halfway house, where you don't go into full hospitalisation, but where you have care and professionals around you. Hopefully that avoids the hospitalisation. Similarly, people coming out of acute care in the hospital can go to the step down facility when they return to their homes, and I think that funding for that kind of organisation is just as important as funding for the community- based organisations, and they all do a great job.
Mark McGowan: (04:16) Thank you. You raise a good point. There is an epidemic of mental health issues that we now recognise across Western Australia, and indeed, I think, across western societies more generally. I think perhaps before they were not recognised for what they are and I think there is a lot more empathy and sympathy from people and also from governments towards dealing with them. There is a range of services around Western Australia. Some of them are non-government, some are represented by people in these rooms, some are from government. But naturally, the advice I always hear is that there is a need for more. There is a need for more. Counselling, but also beds for people who are in this position. If people don't get access to a bed, often there is a tragic consequence that follows someone who has an episode or a mental health issue that they can't get addressed. There was a recent review into these issues, the Stokes review, and he basically found, Professor Brian Stokes, one of the most senior clinicians in Western Australia, he found that the system is in disarray and he's made roughly 100 -plus recommendations to make the system better and to support it better. We need to follow the recommendations of the experts, and he is an expert who has examined the issue across Western Australia. So our commitment is to make sure that those commitments, or those ideas by Professor Stokes in his review of all of these issues, tabled late last year which do involve different services, probably involve different ways in managing the existing services better, to achieve better outcomes. Our commitment is to roll out and follow the advice of Professor Stokes who is the expert who has examined this issue.
Lyle Shelton: (06:03) Thank you. Our next question is from Stanley Sheyrage who is the Chief Executive Officer of Youth Care.
Stanley Jeyaraj: (06:12) Good evening. Forty years ago, the churches, the heads of churches, established YouthCARE. They showed enormous vision in terms of care of young people in schools. Thirty years ago, YouthCARE established the school chaplaincy program, and since then, hundreds of thousands of young people, parents, teachers, principals and other community people have benefited from the school chaplaincy program, and the unique care that it offers through this service. Now, I'm aware that both of you have personally and professionally supported this organisation, for which I am thankful. Going forward, my question is this: What is your party's position in terms of your ongoing support of chaplaincy services in Western Australia for all schools that want it? Thank you.
Lyle Shelton: (07:13) We'll start with Mr. McGowan.
Mark McGowan: (07:15) Thank you. You are correct. YouthCARE does a wonderful job. My own children’s school, a public school in Rockingham, has a school chaplain. Her name is Deb. She may even be here tonight. She is marvelous, absolutely marvelous. Whenever I meet her at the school she is always brimming with pride in the school and willing to help children who have difficulties or indeed staff who might need pastoral care, guidance in life. Across the community, in so many schools across Western Australia, there are chaplains who are performing that role, and that pastoral care role, I think, has been worthwhile in our public schools across Western Australia, and it's been there for a long time. It's a bipartisan policy across both sides that we support our chaplains in school. So if you wanted my view, I'm supportive of it. I know it's predominantly funded by the Commonwealth Government, or there is a large degree of support from the Commonwealth Government, and I understand that that will continue as well, and there is a smaller degree of support from the State Department of Education. I do understand that there are funding issues and that's something that I do commit to examining. To be honest with you I haven't released a policy on that thus far in the election campaign, but I do understand that there are funding issues and I do know that to be honest, the chaplains don't get paid well, they don't get paid well, and they do a lot of work both in school hours and out of school hours, often for the love of it, and for that we should be very thankful for what they do. So I don't know if that's an answer, but I am very supportive of what they do and I would like to see it continue.
Colin Barnett: (09:04) Thank you. I think many of you will remember Barbara Scott, who is fit and well. When I was Education Minister in the 1990's, Barbara convinced me of the need to fund chaplaincies in schools, which we did to a significant degree, and it's true later on that the Howard Government brought in federal funding. During this term of government I have followed on from that approach. We have provided $10 million over this four-year term just concluding, for chaplaincy and we've committed to an additional $2 million per year if elected for a second term. And that money has been effective. The number of schools with chaplaincy services has increased from 240 to over 600 in the last four years, a dramatic change, and chaplains can deal with all sorts of issues to relating to the individual child, to family issues, to distress, to bullying, and they not only help the individual child and families, but taking away stress from teachers who after all, are there to teach, so I think my record has always been a strong one in supporting chaplaincy, and we will continue to do so and increase the funding so that those services can be expanded where needed and extended to other schools. Certainly, almost all schools now wish to have a chaplain.
Lyle Shelton: (10:19) Thank you very much Premier. Our third question tonight is on the issue of abortion, human rights for the unborn and support for women, and I'd like to ask Anita Parker, the Director of Catholic Youth Ministry in Western Australia, to come and present this question.
Anita Parker: (10:42) It's been reported, unfortunately, that in Western Australia between 1998 and 2010, fourteen babies born alive after failed abortions, were tragically left to die. My question is: how will your party support initiatives to ensure that this does not continue to happen, and that there's no further erosion of protections for the unborn, and how will your party support pregnant women considering abortion are given all information about all options available to them, and be informed about academic research regarding the impact of abortion on their physical and their mental health?
Lyle Shelton: (11:25) Thank you Anita. Premier, we will start with you.
Colin Barnett: (11:30) Look, abortion is I think one of those very difficult issues across the community, and I know many people, probably many people here tonight have a very strict view. As a government or as a policy maker, that doesn't always work. We had an extensive debate on abortion in the Parliament. Many of you will remember that. Cheryl Davenport had brought in a bill, and out of that I guess, you might say simply that the choice argument prevailed, but very much limited. I think that regulation and a set of rules are probably the balance the community at large accepts, and can I also say, and I take the point that information, in family planning advice for young girls and boys is there and a great deal of care to try and avoid a situation where an abortion would occur, and particularly in our hospitals, to allow that baby to live. I detest and abhor the situation of abortion, but as a Premier, I've got to deal with the reality that it happens in our society, and we have to manage that as best we can. Now that's probably an unsatisfactory answer to many in this room, but it is I'm afraid, a reality of public health today.
Lyle Shelton: (12:39) Premier, if I could just ask a follow up on that: This issue of the fourteen babies that were born alive and then not offered any medical assistance after, is that something that there should be a public enquiry into?
Colin Barnett: (12:52) Ah, look, I don't know the details of that, and I don't doubt the comment, or the question being asked, but I would find that quite difficult to accept, and I would doubt that that has occurred in that way.
Lyle Shelton: (13:05) An inquiry might clear it up perhaps.
Colin Barnett: (13:07) Well, yeah look I think a baby born alive and if that baby is able to live, should and will live. I somehow doubt that information.
Lyle Shelton: (13:16) Mr. McGowan.
Mark McGowan: (13:17) Thank you, and it is a very sensitive subject, and it's one that needs to be treated with respect. Funnily enough I agree with both Bill Clinton and Tony Abbott, in that abortion should be safe, legal and rare, and I thought that was a good way of putting it. We had a debate in the Parliament in 1998. I participated in that debate, as did the Premier. I voted ‘for.’ I suppose what would be broadly known as the choice position. That was the way that I voted during that debate, which I think largely settled the issue in Western Australia, after what had been a short period of confusion about the way that the situation which had traditionally existed, would exist into the future. No-one has really proposed, neither political party, or any political party, as far as I am aware, has proposed to change what is that settled position in Western Australia which was settled in 1998. Now, there are a number of laws that were contained in the laws that were contained in the rules or the laws that were passed back in 1998, and they do have some restrictions, some education requirements, or some information requirements to be given to anyone who is seeking an abortion, and again, that was an agreed position by the Parliament. It is, I don't think that women who choose to undertake an abortion do it lightly. And I think we need to be sensitive, as a society, as a Parliament, as a politician, to people who are in that position, who make that decision, that has been a decision they have entered into, quite probably, I would expect, in virtually all circumstances, after some considerable soul-searching on their behalf.
Lyle Shelton: (15:13) Mr. McGowan, if I could just ask the same follow-up question to you that I asked the Premier regarding this reported fourteen babies. Would you support a public inquiry to try and clear that matter up, to find out if indeed that did happen?
Mark McGowan: (15:27) What I would seek is the information. I'm sorry about this but you can't just commit to inquiries on the basis of someone saying something to you. You need the information to be provided before such time as you do, so if people do have that information, please, provide it to me.
Lyle Shelton: (15:46) OK, Alright, our fourth question is about cost of living and affordable housing, and I'd like to invite Bishop Sproxton, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Perth.
Bishop Sproxton: (16:04) Thank you very much. Well, though a number of Western Australian families are doing well from their engagement with the resources boom, there are others who are facing substantial economic and social problems. Rent, and the cost of utilities have risen considerably over the last four years, and are set to increase further. This has placed substantial strain on individuals and families, and many of them are seeking assistance from church and other welfare agencies to make ends meet. We are also particularly concerned at the existence of over 20,000 people on the Department of Housing's waiting list and a possibility of a burgeoning of the homeless population. We're seeking from our political leaders, commitments that will address the pain that many individuals and families are suffering, and assurances that greater efforts will be made to resolve the shortage and cost of housing in Western Australia.
Lyle Shelton: (17:17) Mr. McGowan.
Mark McGowan: (17:19) Thank you Bishop. Certainly, when you say that 20,000 people are on the waitlist for public housing, that equates to 50,000 men, women and children account their families. We also as I said earlier, have seen rents in Perth the average of $470 per week. We've seen a decline in the availability of land from the last year of the former government 2007-2008 more than 18,000 house blocks were made available in Western Australia. Most recent figures that came was 11,000, so there has been a massive decline in land availability which accordingly, means fewer houses being built in Western Australia. We need to do something dramatic here. Now, governments don't have bottomless pits of money to deal with these things, so we have to work smarter and more cleverly than we have in the past. One of the things that we need to do is free up our planning, building and housing laws, make sure that we have a stricter way of ensuring local governments put in place approvals - and far more quickly than they do today - to empower the private sector to get out there and provide more housing. One of the other things and I have committed to that, and two minutes don't allow me to explain this properly, that on top of that we need to get rid of what's called the rental option fee, which is very difficult for people who are seeking to obtain a property. A rental option fee, they have to pay up front, which in the current environment - when there is more people seeking properties than there is properties available - is very expensive and difficult for people to cope with, and we have to work with the private housing sector, as well as the public housing sector, to come up with innovative ways of providing for that affordable housing for people across the community. On top of that, the increases in gas, water and power have been very difficult for people to bear. I launched a policy to get rid of a hidden seven per cent charge known as the Tariff Equalisation Contribution, which we are committed to. That seven per cent charge is on everyone's power bill in this room, and you don't even know it. And our commitment is to get rid of that seven per cent fee.
Lyle Shelton: (19:21) Premier?
Colin Barnett: (19:22) Look, there's no doubt that housing is a serious issue in our community. There are a number of reasons for that. Obviously, the over 1,000 people coming to Western Australia every week adds pressure. Also, our economy is strong, and people are changing the decisions and buying houses and renting. There is no shortage of land zoned for residential development at all. There is plenty of land zoned. What is happened is that the private sector hasn't developed land at the same pace, and the reason for that is that the banks have been reticent to lend, because they became over-exposed to the property market in the Global Financial Crisis. The role of government is to ensure the zoned land is there, and it is there, and I think you are now starting to see more activity in the private sector. From a government point of view directly, the role is in terms of providing social housing, Homes West, and I just happen to have the figures here. During the term of this government, 5,314 social housing units have been built. During the last four years of the previous government, only 3,811. So we are around forty per cent ahead at the rate of providing social housing. And also for the first time in this state, there is an affordable housing strategy, which means shared equity or low interest housing loans and the like, and under that the target is 20,000 affordable housing units by 2020, and so far around 7,000 have been provided. We are on track to do that. The pickup in affordable housing has been very dramatic under this government, but nevertheless, there is still pressure out there. As to the cost of living, there are a whole range of factors. I'll just comment one on utility, electricity. We did increase electricity prices sharply and I know that that caused hardship. The irresponsible act was the previous government who froze electricity prices when the costs rose and built up a debt. Someone has to pay for it, and unfortunately it is electricity consumers and government.
Lyle Shelton: (21:14) Thank you. Our fifth question relates to prostitution and the exploitation of women by men, and I would like to ask Michelle Pearse, former ACL spokesman on human trafficking and prostitution and a former WA Director of the ACL. Thanks Michelle.
Michelle Pearse: (21:31) Four years ago, at this event, the then Opposition Leader and now Premier, promised a new approach to prostitution reform would be investigated. The model, known as the Swedish model after the country which first spearheaded reform, targets the demand by criminalising the purchase of sex. Unfortunately, the Swedish model was rejected, even though no-one from WA was delegated by the government to examine the evidence before the Prostitution Bill was introduced into the WA Parliament. Amongst the evidence of the success of the Swedish model is a study by the European Parliament finding that Sweden is an unattractive destination for the trafficking of women because a key driver of demand for the exploitation of women is addressed. The model has been adopted by other Nordic countries. Will your Party commit to sending a Parliamentary delegation to the Nordic countries which have adopted the Swedish model to examine the evidence before any further legislation dealing with prostitution is considered by the WA government?
Lyle Shelton: (22:32) Premier?
Colin Barnett: (22:34) Prostitution, again, one of those issues that I think everyone wishes didn't exist. Apart from the act itself, I think also, and I agree with Michelle, the exploitation of women, in particular health issues, abuse, that occurs. One of the first acts that the Liberal National government did was to repeal a law introduced by the previous government that allowed small brothels to establish wherever they wanted in our suburbs and towns, and we made sure that did not become law. We did introduce legislation to essentially contain prostitution to limited areas, basically nightclub entertainment areas. Not happy with that, we would prefer to have none at all, but that was the way that of trying to limit and control the problem, to ensure safety, that people were protected, that health checks and the like were undertaken. On the Swedish model, some members of Parliament have been to Sweden to look at that. That was considered at length within our Party room, and debated at length. We decided not to go down that path. I understand the argument. I understand the point of view. We took the line that along the legislation to be introduced. It stalled in Parliament, so if we are re-elected, we will have to go back and visit that, but I am sure that the argument and debate about the Swedish model and others will take place. But I think the most important act that we did as a government was to stop what would have certainly been a proliferation of prostitution throughout the suburbs and towns of Western Australia.
Lyle Shelton: (24:03) Premier, would it be helpful for an official Parliamentary delegation to go and just examine the evidence of what Sweden and what Norway, and I believe Iceland, are now looking at?
Colin Barnett: (24:12) Ah, look. Members of Parliament can do that of their own volition. They have travel entitlement, and I certainly have no objection if Members of Parliament wish to do that, but that is up to them.
Lyle Shelton: (24:22) Mr. McGowan.
Mark McGowan: (24:23) Thank you for the question. Under Section 190 of the Criminal Code in Western Australia, prostitution is currently illegal. It's currently illegal. To live off the earnings of prostitution is illegal. To rent out premises to allow people to occupy for the purposes of prostitution is illegal. So there are laws currently that are able be enforced if people want to. So that's the existing position. The laws that the Premier is referring to - that never received royal assent by the Governor - were never passed, never became law. So the existing law as it currently stands has been the law for a long time inside the Criminal Code. The government has a plan in which they want to make prostitution lawful in certain areas around Perth and Western Australia. Legalise it in certain areas, and illegal in other areas, if you like. We are not going to support their laws. We are not going to support their laws for a couple of reasons. One is: we currently have laws to deal with it, and two, within the laws that the government has proposed, there is a requirement, if you like, for anyone who might work in prostitution to be registered as someone on a government database, and I don't want to put people through that particular requirement. So the existing laws, as they stand today, in which prostitution is actually unlawful will stand if we're elected. I think that is probably the best way to go, because any other model that might be proposed, I think, actually creates more difficulty than the current laws do.
Lyle Shelton: (26:13) Mr. McGowan, similar follow-up question: Would you be prepared, if you were Premier, to send an official Parliamentary delegation to go to the Nordic countries and examine the evidence – that's all?
Mark McGowan: (26:23) Well I'm sure I'd have a lot of volunteers to go to the Nordic countries if I was to offer it to the Party room. In fact, I'm sure I'd have many volunteers to spend time in Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the like. I can't commit to that now, and I think what you can often find is huge amounts of evidence, just by going online, about what is available and what the situation is there. Proper academic studies and the like have examined these issues.
Lyle Shelton: (26:52) There are very many of those, and we would be very happy to provide those.
Mark McGowan: (26:54) While my colleagues would I'm sure, prefer to spend some time in Stockholm in summer, I would appreciate that academic advice, but I would be very reluctant to change the law as it currently stands in Western Australia, which is under Section 190, that it is currently unlawful.
Lyle Shelton: (27:11) Thank you. Right. Our sixth question is on the issue of marriage and I'd like to invite Warnar Spyker, who is the Acting Chair of the Association for Reformed Political Action. Thank you Warnar.
Warnar Spyker: (27:24) One of the consequences of redefining marriage, is that it, by design, separates children from one of their biological parents, and denies some children the blessing of having both a mother and a father. Will you and your Party commit to opposing any attempt to introduce same-sex marriage or civil union legislation?
Lyle Shelton: (27:53) Mr. McGowan.
Mark McGowan: (27:55) Thank you. It's a pity I've only got two minutes on this one. This is a conscience issue for people in my Party. It's a conscience issue. That means that people can vote on these issues or have their views on these issues, not bound by a Party position, and what I always hear from members of the public is that they would prefer that political parties did that more often. They allow people to have freedom of views and vote in accordance with their own views on these issues rather than being bound by Party rules, Party strictures, the leader, you know, factional heavies, you name it. That's what people always say to me, that they would like to see more of it. So we have that position in relation to this issue. My view is and it's a federal issue, and marriage under the Commonwealth Constitution says that it's a federal issue, and these issues should be dealt with by the Commonwealth Parliament, and I know that it has been debated over there and people over there have had their view in relation to these things. I'll be honest with you about my views. If I were a Member of Federal Parliament I'd vote for it. If I were a Member of the Federal Parliament. But I am not a Member of the Federal Parliament. I want to quote to you if I have the time, comments from the British Prime Minister - a conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain - who not more than a week ago passed the marriage same-sex couples bill, a gay marriage bill, through the Upper House in Great Britain. And he said this: “Last night's vote will mean not just making sure there is a proper element of equality, but also helping us to build a stronger and fairer society. I thought many of the speeches made last night were very moving, very emotional, and I pay tribute to all those people who have made this case, some of them for very many years saying that they want their love to count the same way that a man and woman's love for each other counts.” That was a conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain who said that. I don't find much to disagree with in that. Now for me, it's not one of those core issues that I have a burning passion about. It's not a core issue that drives…
Lyle Shelton: (30:07) Excuse me Mr. McGowan, that's two bells. Thank you. Premier?
Colin Barnett: (30:11) First if I can just make a slight correction to what Mark said. In the Liberal Party, every Member of Parliament has a free or conscience vote on any issue, so long as they inform the Party room of their views. So that is one of the major differences between the two parties. With respect to gay marriage, talked about, all over the world. It's a current issue, and with the prospective change in the UK, that will raise the issue. At the moment, however, there are very few countries in the world, and a few states in the United States of America that actually have gay marriage. It is very much in the minority. I think that we should, and I think we all do, respect people regardless of their sexuality, and respect the affection and the relationship that they may have with each other. My position is - and first let me say perhaps, that I think there is a sentiment that the community is becoming more open to the idea of gay marriage - my own view is that I do not support gay marriage. In saying that - and I do think there is shift in sentiment in the community - I do however, believe that a proper way probably is to formalise a civil union of some sort that is acceptable, respects people as individuals, as human beings and doesn't in any way discriminate against them. But my view is still a fundamental view that marriage is between a man and a woman and that is one of the basic fabrics and structures of our society.
Lyle Shelton: (31:55) Could I just ask a follow-up question, Premier, and I will allow Mr. McGowan to respond to this as well: Implicit in Warnar's question was the concern about children and their entitlement or otherwise, wherever possible - and we all know that's not always possible because of situations of tragedy or desertion - for a child to know and love and be raised by their biological parents. Do you support that proposition?
Colin Barnett: (32:20) Yes I do, but as you say, there are all sorts of circumstances in which that doesn't happen. And in saying that, I don't think we should discount the capacity of a gay couple to care and love their children. I think we've got to acknowledge that, and I think that is the Christian thing to do.
Lyle Shelton: (32:37) Mr. McGowan?
Mark McGowan: (32:39) It's a very fraught area. Children can be brought up with mum and dad where they have wonderful upbringings and everything works out incredibly well. That's the way I was brought up with my brother. My own children are with my wife and I. Whilst they don't see me very much these days, I think that's the way it's transpiring inside my own family. But I'm not going to, in any way, pass comment on other families and how they do things. It's a fraught area. There will be people in this room who are divorced, who are single mothers, single fathers. There will be people in this room who had a child without being married. There will be all sorts of circumstances out there in which children were brought up in happy homes without there being, if you like, the traditional expectation. So it is a fraught area and I'm not going to, whilst I think people would like me to go down the route to particularly say one is better than the other. My experience, being brought up by my mother and father and my younger brother was a wonderful household, and I couldn't have asked for any better, but I know there's a lot of families out there that don't have that situation, that have been brought up and achieve great things without having that experience of life, and I could even name some famous ones in Western Australia who have achieved marvelous things in their life who have not had that experience as well.
Lyle Shelton: (34:15) Right. Thank you. Our next question is to do with Christian education and freedom of religion, and I would like to ask Dr. Ray Dallin, the State Executive Officer for Western Australia of Christian Schools Australia.
Ray Dallin: (34:30) Gentlemen, what is your vision for education in WA and how committed and prepared are you to stand up for and defend the right of Christian schools to offer a Christian education that is consistent with their Christian beliefs and to employ staff who are also committed to these beliefs? Will you rule out changes to anti-discrimination laws which limit freedom of religion?
Colin Barnett: (35:06) Thank you Ray. Look, I think that's easy to answer. Freedom of choice, freedom of religion is fundamental to Australian society and a logical consequence of that is freedom in education. So I fully support religious-based schools, no matter what the faith may be. The only caveat, I guess, from a state or commonwealth in terms of funding, is that the curriculum is followed - that there is quality well-trained teachers. But I certainly support religious education and Christian-based schools in particular. Can I also say that the other flipside of that relating to government schools, and I know that during my time as Education Minister there would be about once a year a situation where a parent would object to the Lord's Prayer being said, and sometimes principals interpreted that very strictly and said that you cannot have religion in government schools, and actually stopped it. On each occasion I actually intervened, and said that if the parents agree the Lord's Prayer can be said in those schools - and I over-ruled a few principals in that case and continue to do so as Premier - if anyone objects to that then obviously their child can be exempted, but I don't see in any way that compromises the principals of education, and as I said at the very beginning, we are a Christian-based society and the Lord's Prayer, and nativity plays and things like that are part of our society and culture and therefore will continue.
Lyle Shelton: (36:38) Mr. McGowan.
Mark McGowan: (36:39) Thank you. Ray, you asked for a vision for education. My vision for education is where every child gets the best opportunity in life, and the best way to give a child the best opportunity in life is to have an outstanding education system in Western Australia. Now, my view is we need to offer excellence in both public and private education. Both systems should be excellent and they both should be systems in which people choose and want to send their kids to their local school, no matter what system it is in, the public or the private system. I was Education Minister for nearly two years. I had an outstanding relationship with the private school system. The Catholic system, the Catholic education office, the independent schools association; across the board, I had an outstanding relationship because I respected the right of schools that were private schools and religious based schools, to undertake exactly the things that you are saying; teach their beliefs, whilst complying with the curriculum and the other requirements that are broadly across the education system. So that's a good system and it works well and people have a choice about where they want to send their kids, or what type of school, private or public school, that they want to send their child to. I support that, and that is good. In relation to those issues that come along every now and then about whether or not in a public school kids should be able to get a Ester eggs, or they should be able to have Santa along or all those things, I am totally, absolutely on board about making sure that all those traditional sorts of wonderful things that come with the Christian faith happen in our schools. Easter, Santa, Good Friday, all of those things. They are fantastic. My children would kill me if I said they weren't allowed to engage in that in school, as would my wife, and I think they are wonderful traditions in our schooling system in Western Australia.
Lyle Shelton: (38:39) Mr. McGowan, just a follow up, and I took it implicit the Premier's response that he supported this or he might want to clarify. At the heart of the question was: Will you rule out any changes to discrimination laws that might limit the freedom of Christian schools to employ staff that share their ethos?
Mark McGowan: (38:57) We won't be changing those laws.
Lyle Shelton: (39:02) Alright. Our next question is on indigenous welfare and I'd like to ask Glenn Townsend, the President of the Western Australian Seventh Day Adventist Church to come and ask this.
Glenn Townsend: (39:15) The gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in life expectancy, education and general development shows that there's still work to be done. What will your party do to improve the welfare of Indigenous Australians?
Lyle Shelton: (39:33) Mr. McGowan.
Mark McGowan: (39:35) Thank you and you raised an incredibly important point that governments of all persuasions have struggled with for a long time in this country. The life expectancy of an Aboriginal person, the prospect of ending up in jail, the prospect of not finishing school, the prospect of suffering from a whole range of illnesses are significantly enhanced above the non-Aboriginal population, and it's been that way for a long period of time. Dealing with this issue and solving it is not an easy thing to do. When we were in government what we did was we made sure that we enhanced the Native Title, the access to land by people who traditionally had that access to land, and now there's hundreds of thousands of hectares, millions of hectares across Western Australia, in which Aboriginal people have title to the land which they traditionally had for centuries, and that's a good thing. That helps people with that connection to land. But there needs to be more than that. We need to improve attendance rates of Aboriginal kids at school. At present they are declining, and they have declined by five per cent over the last couple of years. We need to make sure that we have health services where people live. And if you go out to some Aboriginal communities, they are very remote, some of the most remote places in the world. Having good decent health services, in particular, renal dialysis, and having access to decent justice and police services has to be a major component of it. My predecessor in this role, Dr. Geoff Gallup, made sure that we put police services into many Aboriginal communities that had never had them before, and those police services made sure that kids were safer in those communities. Children were safer. Those sorts of incremental changes have to be a large part of it, as well as making sure people are trained up for jobs in the modern world. I find it very strange that ten years ago - a little bit more than ten years ago - you never found an Aboriginal person working on a mine site. That was turned around by direct and deliberate action on the part of Geoff Gallup.
Lyle Shelton: (41:41) Thank you. Premier.
Colin Barnett: (41:42) Ah, look, it's probably Australia's greatest social problem - the condition of Aboriginal people - and particularly the condition of Aboriginal children. I think fetal alcohol syndrome, if anyone has seen that, to see a little three or four year old boy or girl who is impaired for the rest of their life through no fault in any way of themselves simply because a mother consumed alcohol and consumed it excessively during a pregnancy. So we've got a long way to go. I assure you that literally hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on Aboriginal education and health in a whole variety of ways and there is progress. Sometimes it's simple examples. Putting a swimming pool into an Aboriginal community. Kids swim, lots of chlorine in the pool. Less infections; less skin infections, less ear, eye, nose infections and the like. Sometimes very simple policies are effective, but I take some confidence. I don't think the issue is going to settle itself or resolve itself in the next perhaps two or three generations. It may take at least that long or maybe longer but I take some encouragement that there is a group of outstanding young Aboriginal leaders who are showing leadership in their community - both men and women - and there's almost a generation that's missed out because of alcoholism and abuse and neglect and a whole lot of other wrongs in our community. So that is happening. And finally, I guess I'll just make the point, I think we'll only fully succeed when Aboriginal people have pride and confidence and a sense of self-determination, and projects like the Ord River Stage Two - and even James Price Point - what they represent apart from the economic development is the greatest acts of self-determination of Aboriginal people in Australian history; actually making decisions to be part of a project, to work on the project, to acquire land and economic independence out of it. We need to be brave enough to do more of that in Australia.
Lyle Shelton: (43:38) Our next question has to do with the rights of the child, and the issue of surrogacy, and I will invite Haydn Nelson, the Senior Minister of Riverview Church.
Haydn Nelson: (43:56) Mr. Barnett, Mr. McGowan, thank you so much for being here, it is much appreciated. My question is about surrogacy. At present, a child who would be born as a result of a surrogacy arrangement would not typically be in a position where they would have information about their biological father or biological mother. And for some in this room there may be a question mark over that. For others, there may be deep concern about that. My question is, going forward, would you be in a position to at least examining the evidence as to whether, what is the impact of children not having that sort of access in this whole surrogacy arrangement?
Lyle Shelton: (44:35) Premier?
Colin Barnett: (44:36) Look, again, there are fairly strict conditions relating to surrogacy. I've got to say something that I am not all that comfortable with, although I do recognise that there are couples who cannot simply have a child, and I guess - probably as a last resort - end up in a surrogacy arrangement. As I say, personally, I am not very comfortable with that. What I would much rather see, and what we have moved, with some progress, not enough, is to make it easier for children to go into adoption. I think of a cousin of mine who could not have a child, and when finally she got to the top of the queue, she was deemed to be “too old” and yet she would have made a beautiful, lovely mother. And there are so many cases like that. What concerns me greatly is that there are 4,000 children in the care of the state, and I think there are 4,000 loving families in Perth, in Western Australia that would take them.
Lyle Shelton: (45:39) Mr. McGowan.
Mark McGowan: (45:40) The surrogacy arrangements that exist in Western Australia were passed into law in 2009 by Mr. Barnett's government and we voted for those laws. It is a difficult and tricky area, and I am by no means an expert in relation to it. Haydn's specific question was in relation to whether or not a child born out of that method, if you like, has a right to access knowledge of their biological parent or parents. Look, I am no ethicist, but I would take advice on that. So if you are asking me if we would have a look at that issue, I would take advice on that, because frankly, I am no expert on that. Sometimes people who get involved in surrogacy arrangements perhaps wouldn't if they knew their details were going to be provided at some point in the future. So there are a range of issues surrounding it that need to be dealt with. In relation to the broader, and I am happy, as you said, to take that advice, and seek further information and the like. In relation to the broader issue of adoption, adoption is rare in Western Australia. We only have a few dozen adoptions in this state every year. And there are reasons for that. Historic reasons where adoption ended up with consequences that weren't happy ones for the child that was adopted. So again we have to be careful. I don't believe in age discrimination in relation to this area. I believe in anyone who is seeking to adopt a child being treated on their merits irrespective of their age. As the former law stood, you had to be in excess of the current law perhaps, you could not be greater than 45 years older than the child that you are seeking to adopt. I'm 45, and I feel like I'm 25, so I find that to be an unusual rule. And I don't believe in that form of age discrimination.
Lyle Shelton: (47:47) Thank you. Now, our next question is our second last for the night, from Ken Lee, who is an Executive Member of the Australian Christian Churches of Western Australia. Thank you Pastor Ken.
Ken Lee: (47:57) Premier Barnett, and Mr. McGowan. My question is regarding euthanasia: Despite claims by proponents of euthanasia that it can be made safe from abuse, examples of the law being used to kill people who are not terminally ill continue to arise, most recently in Belgium where twins who were not terminally ill used the law to have themselves euthanised, and a woman who had anorexia nervosa also recently died by euthanasia in Belgium. My question to you tonight is: Will you oppose legislation to put vulnerable people such as the elderly or depressed at risk by legalising euthanasia? What is your Party's stance in committing to better palliative care?
Colin Barnett: (48:36) Yes, euthanasia's been in the news lately in Western Australia, and every person would feel great sympathy for someone who has a long and agonising death, and for their family. However, I do not support euthanasia. I do not support having a legal structure for finishing a life. What I do support and what happens - and probably everyone in this room's got some knowledge or experience - is when someone is terminal, I think the handling of those last days, or hours or whatever it might be, is best left to family members or to the doctors. And whether it means not giving a flu injection, and perhaps someone catches pneumonia and passes away peacefully, whether it means a little bit more morphine to ease the pain, which may mean that the passing comes a little quicker, I think those decisions are best left to medical staff and the family. If you have a legalised system, I don't think that issues as important as a loved one and their passing should be fought out in the courts. I don't think that is a forward step for our society. I think compassion is closer to the people that you love most.
Lyle Shelton: (49:54) Thank you. Mr. McGowan.
Mark McGowan: (49:55) Thank you Ken. This is a conscience issue on my side of the house. Everyone can vote in accordance with their own conscience and in accordance with their own beliefs. There is no binding in relation to this. People can vote as their conscience dictates. There is a range of views on my side of the Parliament; various people, various views. I have expressed my view before, and that is: I know, I have had family members who have been terminally ill, and I believe in individuals making their own choices in these matters. I believe in people making their own choices when they are terminally ill. At present, the situation is that if a doctor or family doctor gives you extra morphine, or the like, someone else is making the decision for you. Someone else is making the decision for you. My view is, people should be able to make their own choices in relation to these issues, subject to extremely strict safeguards around this for terminally ill people in severe pain, who are fully informed, and psychiatrically, as you said, not suffering from any form of depression. That's my philosophical position on this. Now, no bill is before the Parliament, that would be my view personally. I am one vote in 59. If a bill before the Parliament, I believe that people should make their own decisions on their own futures, and not have other people make them for them.
Lyle Shelton: (51:27) Thank you. Now, our final question for tonight is on the issue of outdoor advertising, and the sexualisation of children, and I would like to invite Nick Scott, the Senior Pastor here at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church.
Nick Scott: (51:42) With the increasing number of sexualised billboards displayed in public places children are being exposed to inappropriate messaging and graphic images at an early age. Will your party commit to working with the Commonwealth to ensure outdoor advertising does not exceed the equivalent of a G rating?
Lyle Shelton: (52:02) Mr. McGowan.
Mark McGowan: (52:03) I think you raise a very good point Nick. A very good point, and I do commit to doing that. I do commit to doing that. I don't like it. I don't like children having to see it, because they don't have a choice. In the confines of your own home, what adults do is up to them, but in the public domain, I think there is too much of this sort of advertising, unnecessary style of advertising that does promote the sort of things you are referring to. At present, there's way too much political advertising as well, I might add. Those billboards with the Premier and me on them, they are a little bit disconcerting, and I don't think children should have to endure them. But just understand this: in two weeks’ time, you won't have to anymore. It's a good thing, isn't it? I do agree with you. I would commit to working with the Commonwealth in relation to these things. I have young children and I understand the points you are making, and I think most parents with young children would agree with you.
Lyle Shelton: (53:09) Thank you. Premier.
Colin Barnett: (53:10) I think any parent is concerned when you see some of the advertising, including advertising on television, and even verbal accounts on radio from time to time. As I said earlier in my introductory comments, we have moved to stop access to X-rated videos by minors. That is important. I think, however, in reality, in terms of trying to regulate strictly advertising, you do run into trouble, and I would certainly prefer to see a stronger code of conduct, perhaps backed up by law. Because I think you've got to get the industry on side. You've got to have standards of advertising, and be willing to act if those standards are breached. Otherwise, you will pass a law, and someone will find a way of circumventing it and you will end up in a legal argument. I think you have to appeal to the goodness of people and to their ethics to make sure that advertising is not inappropriate.
Lyle Shelton: (54:02) Should that code stipulate a G rating?
Colin Barnett: (54:05) The code will evolve some change but will have some legal backing so that breaches of the code have a penalty.
Lyle Shelton: (54:11) Alright. Well, that concludes the question and answer session tonight. I’d just really like to very much thank the Premier and Mr. McGowan tonight. I think you will agree we've had a very informative night. We've had some tough questions; the issues haven't been dodged. I think you will all agree, we appreciate the honesty of both of the leaders before us here tonight, and I think that is something to be commended. We do appreciate that, even if we might be disappointed on some issues. And as we said earlier, we really do appreciate the sacrifices that your families make, particularly during this election campaign. We appreciate the Premier's wife, Lyn being here tonight and we trust that you will take our good wishes as a constituency back home to your wife and family and thank them for the sacrifice that you're making as well. I'd just like to call on our Western Australian Director Rhys Vallance, to present a small token of our appreciation to the Premier and the Opposition Leader. Please be assured, Premier and Mr. McGowan, they're not Bibles. We don't discourage reading the Bible, but I hope you'll enjoy reading one of Australia's most esteemed historians, a short history of Christianity, so I commend that to you. Just very quickly, before we conclude the night, I just want to say a couple of very important thank you’s. The biggest one is to the young man who just presented those gifts, and that is Rhys Vallance, our Western Australian Director. Tonight would not have been possible without the very hard work that Rhys has been doing. He's been coordinating all of our activities during the election campaign and organising the website. He's organised thirteen Meet Your Candidate forums throughout Perth, and of course he and a team of very dedicated young volunteers have put all of this together, along with the assistance of Grant Dusting. Rhys, I'm just wondering if you could stand and it would be good for us to acknowledge his hard work. There's one thing left for us to do, and I think it would be very appropriate for us to close the evening in prayer, and I'd like to invite Pastor Nick Scott to come and do that.
Nick Scott: (57:05) Thank you Lyle. Let's pray shall we? God our Father, we thank you for this great nation of Australia, the blessing it is to live here in WA. We thank you for the opportunity to interact with these two key leaders of our State. And Lord, as we close we thank you for their leadership, we thank you for their commitment to the people of WA. We honour them, we pray for them, and we will continue to pray for them; for wisdom in leadership, for compassion for the poor and marginalised, for a commitment to justice and righteousness and integrity. Lord, we pray for their families and a strengthening of their marriages. We ask that you would guide them in their roles as fathers, husbands, and as political leaders. Encourage and empower them, and bless them, we ask in Jesus' name. AMEN.
Rhys Vallance on the Political Spot
Rhys Vallance is the Western Australian director of the Australian Christian Lobby. He spoke to the ACL's Katherine Spackman about the WA Make it Count event last week where the Premier Colin Barnett and Opposition Leader Mark McGowan addressed Christians. Western Australian go to the polls on Saturday, 9th March.
WA Make it Count election videos available now
MR: ACL welcomes WA leaders’ commitment to religious freedom
Wednesday, 27th February, 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed commitments from both Premier Colin Barnett and Opposition Leader Mark McGowan to protect religious freedom in Western Australia.
Addressing more than 800 Christians at ACL’s Make it Count leaders’ forum in Perth last night, Mr McGowan said if elected he would not be changing anti-discrimination laws to diminish religious freedom.
Premier Barnett also reiterated his commitment to the freedom of Christian schools to employ staff who share its ethos.
Christians have been concerned about moves at the Federal level to water down religious freedom, despite it being a basic human right recognised by the United Nations.
Mr Barnett and Mr McGowan were asked 11 questions on subjects such as indigenous welfare, homelessness, marriage, the human rights of the unborn and the exposure of children to inappropriate images in outdoor advertising.
Both leaders pledged their support for school chaplaincy programs to continue.
On the issue of euthanasia Mr McGowan said he supported it for the “terminally ill”, distancing himself from Belgian laws which have recently allowed people without terminal illnesses to be killed.
Mr Barnett restated his opposition to euthanasia saying he did not want to see “a legal structure that established a framework for ending a life”.
Mr McGowan won support from the crowd for his pledge to make outdoor advertising G Rated, responding to widespread community concern about sexualised billboard advertising.
On the issue of legitimising the exploitation of women through legal brothels both leaders refused to commit to sending a Parliamentary delegation to investigate the successful Nordic approach.
In these countries men -not women- are criminalised and this has resulted in countries like Sweden becoming unattractive to traffickers of young women for sex.
However, Mr Barnett said the debate would come up again after the election and that the Swedish model could be considered as part of this.
Mr McGowan also pledged to make Easter Sunday “a day of rest” like Anzac Day.
ACL WA Director Rhys Vallance, who organised last night’s event, said the turnout from the Christian constituency was pleasing.
“This is a constituency that believes in seeing a more compassionate, just and moral society and it was great to be able to hear from the leaders on some of the tough social issues which go to the heart of what kind of society we are,” he said.
ACL understands last night’s event was the biggest public forum of the WA election campaign.
Questions put to leaders
Commitment to keep outdoor advertising G-Rated
Make it Count Videos
MR: WA Opposition Leader commits to make outdoor advertising G Rated
For release: Wednesday, 27th February 2013
WA Opposition Leader Mark McGowan has told an 800 strong forum of Christian voters that if elected premier he will make outdoor advertising G Rated as a child protection measure.
ACL State Director Rhys Vallance, who organised last night’s Make it Count leaders’ forum with Premier Colin Barnett and Mr McGowan, welcomed the policy commitment.
“It was great to see both leaders acknowledge the problem of inappropriate outdoor advertising and to hear Mr McGowan’s specific commitment,” Mr Vallance said.
Christian leaders from a range of denominations put questions to the leaders.
Mr Barnett reiterated his opposition to euthanasia saying he did not support “a legal structure for ending a life”.
Both leaders expressed their support for the continuation of school chaplaincy.
Both pledged to do more on indigenous disadvantage with the Premier saying this was “Australia’s greatest social problem”.
On the tragic issue of 14 babies between 1999 and 2010 reportedly being born alive and then left to die, both leaders said they were not aware of this.
Mr Vallance said this was the second time ACL had conducted a Make it Count leaders forum, following a similarly successful event at the 2008 election also attended by more than 800 people.
“By turning out again in such numbers the Christian constituency is demonstrating that it is active and engaged, keen to ensure they are well informed when it comes time to vote.”
WA Leaders address tackles Christians’ concerns
The Australian Christian Lobby said tonight’s Make it Count event with the WA Premier and Opposition Leader covered major issues of concern for Christians in the lead up to the March 9th election.
ACL’s Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton said Premier Colin Barnett’s and Opposition Leader Mark McGowan’s addresses and answers to questions at the forum were instructive for people as they considered how they would vote.
“This is the second time we’ve held a leaders debate here in Perth in the lead up to an election and the feedback we’ve had from Christians, churches and Christian organisations is that it’s invaluable and important election information,” Mr Shelton said.
Mr Shelton said the event was attended by a number of denominations including Catholics, Baptists, Anglicans, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist, Reformed Church, Free Reform Church, Lutheran, Apostolic Churches, Australian Christian Churches and Westminster Presbyterians.
He said leaders from churches and faith-based organisations asked a range of questions on the night covering topics including suicide and mental health, education, chaplaincy, life issues including abortion and euthanasia, cost-of-living, family, education and indigenous welfare.
“Church leaders and faith-based organisations want to engage in the political process and be able to support those in government,” he said.
QUESTIONS at WA Make it Count event
1. Suicide and mental health – Dale Hewitt, Leader of the Apostolic Church in Western Australia.
The current government has rolled out the Suicide Prevention Strategy and has stated an ongoing commitment to mental health. These are very positive developments. However, the Strategy is programmed to end in June this year and there is still a great need for services to assist young people with mental health issues. There is particular concern for the high levels of depression that exists among young people and the fact that suicide remains an ongoing problem among young people.
What commitments can the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition make that will reassure us that the mental wellbeing of young people is a priority for their future governments and what plans do they have to increase support to young people in the area of mental health?
2. Chaplaincy – Stanley Jeyaraj, Chief Executive Officer Youth Care
YouthCARE has been providing chaplaincy services to WA public schools for over 30 years. Thousands of children and others in the school community have benefitted from YouthCARE’s unique contribution to the WA community. At YouthCARE we have appreciated the support which you have given to the organisation both professionally and personally. My question is this: Can you outline your party’s position towards providing its unwavering support for YouthCARE’s chaplaincy services so that public school communities that want the service will be able to access the service?
3. Abortion – human rights for unborn and support for women – Anita Parker, Director of Catholic Youth Ministry Perth.
It has been reported that in Western Australia between 1998 and 2010, 14 babies born after failed abortions were tragically left to die. Will your party commit to ensuring there is no further erosion of protections in law for the unborn? Will your party support initiatives that ensure all pregnant women considering abortion are given information about all options available to them?
4. Cost of living and affordable housing – Bishop Sproxton, Auxiliary Bishop Catholic Archdiocese of Perth
Although a number of West Australian families are doing well from their engagement with the resources boom, there are others who are facing substantial economic and social problems. Rent and the cost of utilities have risen considerably over the last four years and are set to increase further. This has placed substantial strain on individuals and families and many of them are seeking assistance from Church and other welfare agencies to make ends meet. We are also particularly concerned at the existence of over 20,000 people on the Department of Housing’s waiting list and the possibility of a burgeoning of the homeless population.
We are seeking from our political leaders commitments that will address the pain that many individuals and families are suffering and assurances that greater efforts will be made to resolve the shortage and cost of housing in Western Australia.
5. Prostitution and the exploitation of women by men – Michelle Pearse, Former ACL Spokesperson on Human Trafficking and Prostitution.
Four years ago at this event, the then Opposition Leader and now Premier promised a new approach to prostitution reform would be investigated. The model – known as the Swedish model after the country which first spear-headed reform - targets the demand by criminalising the purchase of sex. Unfortunately the Swedish model was rejected even though no one from WA went to Sweden to examine the evidence before the Prostitution Bill was introduced into the WA Parliament. Amongst the evidence of the success of the Swedish model is a study by the European Parliament finding that Sweden is an unattractive destination for the trafficking of women because a key driver of demand for the exploitation of women is addressed. The model has been adopted by other Nordic countries.
Will your Party commit to sending a Parliamentary delegation to the Nordic countries which have adopted the Swedish model to examine the evidence before any further legislation dealing with prostitution is considered by the WA Parliament?
6. Marriage – Warnar Spyker, Acting Chair, Association for Reformed Political Action
Among the consequences of redefining marriage is that it by design separates children from one of their biological parents, and denies some children the blessings of having both a mother and a father. Will you and your party commit to supporting the current definition of marriage?
7. Christian education and freedom of religion – Dr. Ray Dallin, State Executive Officer – WA, Christian Schools Australia
What is your vision for Education in WA and how committed and prepared are you to stand up for and defend the right of Christian schools to offer a Christian education that is consistent with their Christian beliefs and to employ staff who are also committed to these beliefs? Will you rule out changes to anti-discrimination laws which limit freedom of religion?
8. Indigenous Welfare – Glenn Townend, President of the Western Australian Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church
The gap between indigenous and non-indigenous life expectancy, education and development shows more work needs to be done. What will your party do to improve the welfare of Indigenous Australians?
9. Euthanasia – Ken Lee, Executive Member, Australian Christian Churches, Western Australia
Despite claims by proponents of euthanasia that it can be made safe from abuse, examples of the laws being used to kill people who are not terminally ill continue to arise, most recently in Belgium where twins who were not terminally ill used the law to have themselves killed by a doctor. A woman with anorexia nervosa also recently died by euthanasia in Belgium. Will you oppose any attempt to put vulnerable people who are old and or depressed at risk by legalising euthanasia? Will you commit to better resourcing palliative care?
10. Outdoor advertising – Nick Scott, Senior Pastor Mount Pleasant Baptist Church
With the increasing number of sexualised billboards displayed in prominent public places children are being exposed to inappropriate messaging and graphic images at an early age.
Will your party commit to working with the Commonwealth to ensure outdoor advertising does not exceed the equivalent of a G rating?
Nick Overton on the Political Spot
Nick Overton is the Acting Chief of Staff at the Australian Christian Lobby. He spoke to the ACL's Katherine Spackman about the West Australian election on the 9th of March.
WA Premier and Opposition Leader to address Christians in lead up to election
On the 9th of March 2013, Western Australians will head to the polls. In the lead up to the election, the ACL has organised a Make it Count event with the Premier and Opposition Leader of the major parties on Tuesday 26th February at Mount Pleasant Baptist Community College from 7.30 to 9pm. Head to www.wavotes.org.au for more details.
The website also has information about the Meet Your Candidate Forums, where you can get to know the candidates more and ask them questions, and parties response to a questionnaire.
WA Election from Australian Christian Lobby on Vimeo.
What the Parties think
Alcohol abuse // Homelessness and housing affordability // Charter of rights // Prostitution
Abortion and the law // Abortion statistics // Euthanasia
Surrogacy // Marriage // Families