People of faith have once again shown that their voices will be heard in the privacy and security of the polling booth.
‘Don’t take our votes for granted’, said Mark Spencer, Director of Public Policy at Christian Schools Australia, ‘people of faith are not rusted on to any party.’
‘Traditional political wisdom was turned on its head across Australia in 2019’, Mr Spencer said, ‘the media recognised the impact of people of faith voting to protect religious freedom, and the ALP’s review confirmed this’.
‘The ALP has listened and learned from the results of the 2019 election’, said Mark Spencer, acknowledging that Christian schools have had extensive consultations on religious freedom with Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus since the last election, and welcomed changes in the 2021 ALP National Platform that better aligned the party’s position with international law.
‘Key ALP leaders, such as Senator Deborah O’Neill, have worked tirelessly to understand and reflect the needs of faith communities’, Mr Spencer said, ‘many people of faith have put their trust in the ALP when they wouldn’t have done so in 2019’.
‘Having trusted the ALP at this election, people of faith will be looking to them to deliver robust protections for religious freedom’.
‘The failure of the Parliament to pass the Religious Discrimination Bill 2022 earlier this year created enormous frustration for people of faith after so much consultation and compromise by faith groups’, Mr Spencer said, ‘especially given the recommendation that it be passed by two Parliamentary committees’.
‘There is considerable frustration with the major parties, and ‘politics’ more broadly’, he said, noting the consistent calls from Christian school representatives for genuine policy commitments, rather than promises of funding for dog parks.
‘People of faith are looking for politicians of principle, whether that is religious freedom, care for God’s creation, or a range of other issues’.
‘We have a clear benchmark for religious freedom protections’, Mr Spencer said, ‘the Bill which passed earlier this year has broad support, both within Parliament and within the broader community’.
‘Nobody wins by starting this process from scratch, this will simply delay protections for people of faith and for an update to the Sex Discrimination Act to better balance freedoms and equality’, he said.
‘We believe that the Parliament can provide this protection before Christmas this year if they act on the basis of principle, and we look forward to working with the incoming government to ensure that this is the case’.