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Candidates pitch to voters of faith

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The Legislative Council chamber of the Parliament of New South Wales. Photo: Coekon, CC BY-SA 4.0
The Legislative Council chamber of the Parliament of New South Wales. Photo: Coekon, CC BY-SA 4.0

As voters across NSW prepare to cast their vote in the March 25 election, a number of candidates have been pitching directly to faith communities to cast an Upper House vote for them and keep the next Labor or Coalition government accountable on key issues such as freedom of religion and parental rights.

Among the candidates vying for one of 21 seats in the Upper House or Legislative Council is the former managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Mr Lyle Shelton, who is contesting the election as an independent.

Mr Shelton believes faith-based values, especially around important pro-life matters, have been seriously undermined by both sides of politics in NSW in the last parliament.

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He thinks people of faith deserve stronger representation in what is traditionally seen as the house of review.

“MR SHELTON BELIEVES FAITH-BASED VALUES, ESPECIALLY AROUND IMPORTANT PRO-LIFE MATTERS, HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY UNDERMINED BY BOTH SIDES OF POLITICS.”

“We saw the Liberal-National Coalition government essentially allow bills to pass parliament allowing both abortion and euthanasia over recent years”, Mr Shelton told The Catholic Weekly.

“As the government, they decide what private members bills are given debating time and they allowed this to be given time and currency in the parliament and there was no coordinated resistance”.

Mr Shelton was a director and spokesman for the Coalition for Marriage during the same-sex marriage plebiscite in 2017.

Former managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Mr Lyle Shelton, is among the candidates vying for one of 21 seats in the Upper House or Legislative Council in the upcoming election. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Former managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Mr Lyle Shelton, is among the candidates vying for one of 21 seats in the Upper House or Legislative Council in the upcoming election. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

His strong advocacy for traditional values including his opposition to drag-queen story time events for children in public libraries has seen him attacked by some LGBT groups.

However he believes people of faith need strong advocates in politics to protect the interests of children.

“We’ve seen research released recently from the Children’s Hospital in Westmead which clearly shows that children who have gone through gender transition treatment are not finding their mental health issues resolved as a result of the gender change, but instead they’re finding they’re doing irreversible damage to their bodies”, he added.

Elected to the NSW Upper House in 2019, One Nation Leader Mark Latham is re-contesting his seat with a promise to protect faith-based organisations and people of faith against discrimination.

“hE BELIEVES PEOPLE OF FAITH NEED STRONG ADVOCATES IN POLITICS TO PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF CHILDREN”

Mr Latham, a former Federal Opposition Leader, left the Labor Party in 2018, disgruntled over the party’s failure to introduce religious freedom and religious anti-discrimination laws in NSW.

Since his election, Mr Latham has campaigned strongly for such laws in NSW, but has so far failed to win over sufficient support for the laws in the Upper House.

He believes Christianity has come under growing attack in the public sphere, reflected in the heated debate over public comments by Margaret Court and Israel Folau who were merely expressing Christian views.

Former Federal Labor leader Mark Latham speaks at the National Civic Council dinner in 2018 . Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Former Federal Labor leader Mark Latham speaks at the National Civic Council dinner in 2018 . Photo: Giovanni Portelli

If re-elected, he has told The Catholic Weekly, he would continue to be a strong advocate for people of faith, especially for parents who wish to pass on faith-based values to their children.

“I’ve been trying to advance the idea that in schools in particular, parents need to be recognised as the primary educators of their children”, he said.

“On the question of gender transition, schools shouldn’t be allowed to keep secrets from parents and yet under current state government policy, the school doesn’t need to tell the parents if a child is gender transitioning. I regard that as completely unacceptable”.

Alongside Mr Latham is his running mate, former Labor MP for Bankstown, Ms Tanya Mihailuk who co-chairs the Parliamentary Friends of Religious Freedom.

“Certain things were said back in the 1990s and the party has learned from that period and is now advancing issues and policies to help all people in NSW, regardless of their racial or religious background.”

Mr Latham said while One Nation was initially seen as hostile to multiculturalism when the party was first established in the 1990s, the party has changed significantly and is committed to being a strong voice for migrant communities with traditional family values.

“Certain things were said back in the 1990s and the party has learned from that period and is now advancing issues and policies to help all people in NSW, regardless of their racial or religious background. We respect that diversity and truly support it”.

The Catholic Weekly also contacted Mrs Silvana Nile, of the Revive Australia Party, but did not receive a comment by the time we went to press.

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