Wednesday, 4 September 2013

God vs Caesar in the Australian Federal Election: secularism is winning

What has to be one of Australia's most dismal election campaigns ever, providing little real choice between political positions on what really matters, is finally, thankfully, drawing to an end.

Accordingly, we do actually have to steel ourselves and make a choice this Saturday.

Labor's going down - deservedly

The polls have Labor set for a massive loss, and current PM Mr Rudd's performance over the last week should have pretty much put the nail in the coffin.

It is true, I think, that Labor's problems were, in many ways, more about perception than reality.

Yes they stuffed up a few things (like the design of the mining tax, for which former Treasury head Ken Henry should probably shoulder a lot of the blame).  But, as a piece by Tim Colebatch argues today, Labor's reputation as bad economic managers is simply not deserved: Australia has avoided a recession and maintained high growth quite counter to world trends, and that is not just due to the happy coincidence of the mining boom.

Moreover, they have managed to put in place some positive social reforms, such as the disability insurance scheme.

Their utter failure to come up with a convincing narrative, however, together with the continuing shadow of the Whitlam years (even though previous research has established that it was in fact the Howard Government that was the biggest spending Government in Australian history, expanding the public service dramatically despite its initial slash and burn approach.  Alas, history seems likely to be repeated very shortly, since there are no signs that the Liberals have learnt the lessons of history) seems to have been fatal however.

The big problem for Labor, as Fairfax newspapers Chairman Roger Corbett argued last night, is that many of Labor's perception problems can be traced back to Mr Rudd's inimitable style as Prime Minister, and his subversion tactics when dumped.  Corbett argues that Labor should have stuck with Gillard.  Yes, they would have gone down in all likelihood, but they would have gone down with some integrity intact.  I agree.

In fact this last week of the campaign has perfectly illustrated the nature of the Rudd problem.  At the Labor campaign 'launch' last Sunday (and how symptomatic of the malaise of our democracy that the rules around taxpayer funding of election campaigns provide incentives for the party's to leave their official launches to the very last minute!) he actually gave a reasonably stirring, visionary speech.  Unfortunately he managed to derail any momentum he may have gained the next day with a defence of same sex marriage that claimed the Bible read literally supported slavery...

When Christians refuse to let their faith influence their politics: the Abbott problem

In fact the ABC's excellent Annabel Crabb has a great piece on the role of religion in the campaign up in The Drum today.

It is a pretty devastating critique of Rudd, contrasting his various claims in the past to the moral high ground, all now abandoned in the interests of political expediency.

But it also exposes Mr Abbott's equally misguided approach to his faith in the public sphere, running the tired old Kennedy-esq line that faith shouldn't determine policy in a secular democracy because all views are equally valid.

Ms Crabb reports:

"But in the last month, a very clear opportunity has arisen for an incoming Abbott government to make a very big difference to the availability of abortion in Australia.

One of Julia Gillard's last acts in government was to list the abortion drug RU486 on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The listing became active on the first day of August, meaning that the Federal Government now subsidises chemical abortion.

But when Leigh Sales asked Mr Abbott during her 7.30 interview with him on Monday whether he would act to alter those arrangements in any way, he gave her an instantaneous and unequivocal "No."

"The deal is done," he said.

In tonight's Kitchen Cabinet interview, to be aired at 8.00pm on ABC1, the Opposition Leader gives his strongest warning to date that Christians should not expect too much from him, including on abortion.

"You've got to accept that there are all sorts of private views which can be passionately held but in a pluralist democracy such as ours the idea that you could somehow make those private views mandatory is bizarre, just bizarre," he says.

"I think it is essential that someone of faith understand that while faith is a splendid thing in private life it can often be quite a misleading guide in public life."

Ms Crabb concludes that Christians should not put their trust in politicians because rather than rendering to God what is his, for a politician, "Caesar will usually be ahead in the queue."

So who to vote for?

Here is my take on it: don't vote a party ticket (ie above the line).  

Instead look at the candidates individually and make sure your first (and more) preference go to a pro-life candidate with a party worth supporting (your first preference vote potentially equals taxpayer dollars if they get enough votes!).

Then vote for whoever you think is the least worst of the major parties in the lower house.

In deciding which major party to vote for, you do need to take into account the views of your individual (potential) MP as well as the relative merits of the potential Government as a whole since many key issues (such as same sex marriage) are likely to be decided on conscience votes (or party room decisions on whether or not to have a conscience vote in the case of the Liberals!).  To help you on that, Family Life International have put together a useful form guide on the voting record of current MPs and candidates in some key seats.

Finally,  make sure the anti-life parties get your last preference, especially in the Senate!

You might also want to take another look at the Australian Bishops' election website and statement on voting for the common good.

11 comments:

Gervase Crouchback said...

Thanks Kate I will be certainly voting Prolife in deakin

A Canberra Observer said...

What amazes me is that hardly any churchmen, Catholic, Anglican or pentecostal seem to have decided to make any comment about Mr Rudd's scriptural claims.

Disappointing from the Catholic bishops, nothing except asylum seekers. I probably agree with them on that but there are some rather bigger fish to fry but none of the clergy is getting their shorts dirty.

C said...

I only today emailed the house of rep candidates today to canvass their personal opinions on abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, cloning and SSM but pleasingly several of them have already replied. Tis included the LNP candidate (who I think will end up winning the seat). The Katter party member even emailed me his phone number so I was able to call and chat to him. So if, like me, you have left some of your research to the last minute, it is not too late!

Anonymous said...

"Deal is done". Peculiar words of Abbott on RU486. I was appalled but not surprised.

The reference to a 'deal' conjures up images of dark political corridors and secret handshakes. Safe to say Abbott has completely dumped the faith in favour of ambition. I do wonder if there is more to his apostasy than what is immediately visible.

marcel

Babs said...

Sunday, February 10th, 2013
"O God, the Almighty Father, in the Name of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, have Mercy on all of your children in Australia and New Zealand.
Forgive us our rejection of Your Holy Word.
Forgive us the sin of indifference.
Rid us of our pagan culture and cover us with the Graces we need to inspire hope, faith, and charity among our brothers and sisters.
We beg You for the Gift of Discernment and ask that You grant all of us the Blessings we need to ensure that only the Truth of Your Holy Word can be heard and that all souls are granted the keys to eternal life. Amen." Posted by Babs

Babs said...

Sunday, February 10th, 2013
"O God, the Almighty Father, in the Name of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, have Mercy on all of your children in Australia and New Zealand.
Forgive us our rejection of Your Holy Word.
Forgive us the sin of indifference.
Rid us of our pagan culture and cover us with the Graces we need to inspire hope, faith, and charity among our brothers and sisters.
We beg You for the Gift of Discernment and ask that You grant all of us the Blessings we need to ensure that only the Truth of Your Holy Word can be heard and that all souls are granted the keys to eternal life. Amen." Posted by Babs

James said...

I agree.

I was devastated by his comments -I'm a traditional Catholic, I wish I attended Mass more often ... but I can't go every Sunday.

Unbelievable.

He's made a choice that his bike is more important than his faith and it now shows in his politics. Oh for a fatter Abbott.

PM said...

To add to Canberra Observer's comment, one churchman, the new Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, has commented - to point out that Rudd, egged on by the hemi-demi-semi-literate hipsters in the Q&A audience, was quoting on slavery not the Bible but Aristotle. There is a delicious irony here, in that evengelicals were always accusing Thomists of being unable to tell the difference between the two.

The whole campaign has indeed been very dispiriting. The most cheering part of it was the good citizens of the much derided and despised Rooty Hill, who displayed far more intellectual and moral seriousness than either the politicians or (especially) the media.

A Canberra Observer said...

Kudos to the Sydney Anglican archbishop.

Perhaps life is imitating art.

Perhaps all of the Catholic Bishops have watched the historical fiction 'Kingdom of Heaven' and decided that they like the fictional Patriarch of Jerusalem must, in the face of an apparently unstoppable besieging force, must embrace the new morality/religion and repent later, for fear of fire and sword.

And I would say that for the contemporary episkopoi that their silence is louder and more pathetic than any apostasy because of frail weakening in the face of actual bodily harm.

And PM, that is a delicious irony, albeti unbelievably bitter sweet.

fr Mick Mac Andrew West Wyalong NSW said...

Overall, I feel the Catholic Church has been very prominent in the campaign, prominent in the numbers of candidates and especially the numbers of pro-life candidates. I have done some stats and it looks as if all bar three of the 156 or so lower house electorates have at least one pro-life candidate. I haven't been able to get the religions of all the candidates, but the pro-life stance taken by candidates would at least make them supportive of Catholic teachings.
And I have narrowed the pro-life criteria to those who have said they are against abortion, abortion drugs and euthanasia. While some Catholics are saying they are pro-life, they have have, falsely, set conditions on that criteria and water it down to something that would be less than pro-life.
And did you hear Tony Abbott saying he would re-direct a lot of foreign aid, hopefully meaning he will not finance the Obama/UN reproductive health lie which is being peddled to developing countries so as to sure up the USA economy i.e., for every abortion in a developing country, it means $US2 000 in consumer good exports from the USA to that country. One million abortions in India, sponsored by the USA/UN death pact alliance = $US2 billion.

R J said...

Two quotes seem relevant in this election period. One of them is from Albert Jay Nock, American early-20th-century author (and non-Catholic):

"I could see how democracy might do very well in a society of saints and sages led by an Alfred or an Antoninus Pius. Short of that, I was unable to see how it could come to anything but an ochlocracy of mass-men led by a sagacious knave. ... As against Jesus, the historic choice of the mass-man goes regularly to some Barabbas."

But the prize for conveying the most accurate sentiment in the fewest possible syllables must go to another non-Catholic, England's A.J.P. Taylor, who coined the magnificent phrase "chaplains on pirate ships". Can there be a more perfect description of the Australian episcopate's political role in 2013 than is found in these four simple words?