A major party to protect our religious freedom
Amanda Stoker is a Queensland Senator for the Liberal/National Party
We are at a crucial point in history when it comes to the place of religion in Australia. Never before have Christian values, and the right to express them freely, been under such attack. This is not political hyperbole. The Greens, Labor and many left-leaning independents have made it clear that they prioritise the human rights of some, such as the LGBTI+ community, over other human rights, such as rights to freedom of conscience, religion and speech.
In contrast, the Coalition understands that Christian values have in large part underpinned the success of our society, and we are determined to ensure that these competing rights are able to coexist. We know that our nation is stronger when people of faith are able to practise their beliefs, able to strengthen their families and contribute to their communities with the kind of warmth and generosity for which they are renowned. They should not be pushed out of the public square.
A vote for the Coalition is a vote for a party and a PM that will stand up for religious freedom. I concede that there are some minor party/independent alternatives that can be trusted as voices for religious tolerance. But these voices won’t form government.
Take Labor’s Sex Discrimination Amendment (Removing Discrimination Against Students) Bill. If passed, this bill would force religious schools to censor those parts of their religious teaching that had the potential to offend someone with a sexual identity that conflicted with them. It would reach into the pulpit, the Sunday school, the youth group, and of course the classroom, and demand that centuries-old teachings be modified to comply with modern mores.
Labor and the Greens’ bill would have the effect of making Christian schools little more than privately funded schools with the same culture and teachings as a public school. It would strip parents of their right to choose for their children an education that meaningfully aligns with their religious beliefs.
The Coalition firmly opposes Labor’s bill, and while we have the view that no child should be discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality, that right cannot trump all others. We have proposed a Religious Discrimination Act that would protect the right of individuals to freedom of religion. That’s not the only reason to support the Coalition. Last year, we delivered an extra $247 million to the National Schools Chaplaincy programme, recognising the valued role chaplains play. Labor has said it would allow schools to allocate NSCP funding to either secular or religiously affiliated staff.
The Coalition’s increased NSCP funding has better equipped chaplains to stamp out bullying in our schools. Labor would prefer to reintroduce its controversial Safe Schools anti-bullying programme. Rather than giving school workers the tools and skills they need to address bullying, Safe Schools instead introduces radical concepts in the classroom such as that gender is a construct and that heterosexuality isn’t the norm. The Coalition rightly withdrew federal funding of the Safe Schools programme in 2017.
Protest votes to minor parties and independents almost always benefit Labor.
You may think your vote for a Christian-affiliated party or independent couldn’t end up with Labor, but a look at the 2016 election data shows otherwise. More than half of the independent vote alone flowed to Labor.
When seats are won on as little as 37 votes, and when governments are formed on as little as a one- seat majority, giving your vote to a minor party or independent may sit well with your Christian beliefs on election day, but may well end up installing a party into government that seeks to stifle your beliefs.
Amanda Stoker is a Queensland, Senator for the LNP.