home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > June 24th > Voting

The Real Issues Of The 2016 Australian Federal Election!

Lewis believed democracy to be the best form of government, not because men are so good they should share in government but because fallen men are so wicked that not one of them can be trusted with any irresponsible power over his fellows.” 
C. S. Lewis: Defender of the Faith: Defender of the Faith, Richard B. Cunningham 

C.S. LewisC.S. Lewis also once famously said that democracy is not the best form of government – but it’s the best one we have! In Australia we have been enduring an election campaign that has gone on for nearly eight weeks, which is a little unusual for Australia. But spare a thought for our American cousins who have had what appears to be an election circus going on for months now and still has months to go! On Saturday July 2, Australian voters go to the Polls and whatever the outcome, it will have huge ramifications for our future and be a temperature-taking moment for where Australian sentiments currently lie.

Political candidatesI, like many others, attended the local ACL candidate forum where each of the main parties had a representative sharing and defending their views. I was upset and disturbed by most of what I heard. From the outset, I need to state that I am not a member of a political party (nor have I been). Thus, my comments are not beholden to any Party’s agenda. There’s three broad categories of concerns that deeply trouble me about this current election and the political climate. These are-

(i) What each of the Parties claim are the main issues for the Federal Government to address

(ii) How each of the Parties propose to address their idea of the main issues

(iii) What the main issues really are!

XXX at Parliament House on September 14, 2015 in Canberra, Australia. Malcolm Turnbull announced this morning he would be challenging Tony Abbott for the Liberal Party leadership. bill_shorten3

“Many forms of government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.”
Winston Churchill, 1947


(i) What each of the Parties claim are the main issues for the Federal Government to address

Lib-Nat2016The Liberal-National Party present the economy as the main issue. By ‘economy’ the Liberals mean that Government spending should not exceed Government income, foreign debt should be paid off, and the taxation system should be fair but able to provide incentives for business and industry to grow and employ more people. Their slogan is, “Back our plan for a strong new economy.” The Liberals will hold a Plebiscite on Same-Sex Marriage before the end of the year. 

Labor2016The Labor Party present health and education as the main issue. They have majored on the preservation of Medicare as a key issue. Their 2016 slogan is, “We’ll put people first.” Many of their ads have highlighted the Liberal Government’s spending cuts to health and education and their intention to restore this funding. Labor has promised to introduce Same-Sex Marriage within the first one hundred days of their election to government.  

Greens2016The Greens Party present the climate and fairness as the main issues. Their slogan is Standing up for what matters. They want to promote renewable energy which will contribute to the reduction of Global Warming, and they want to end off-shore asylum-seeker detention. Their taxation policy includes increasing the company tax rate. The Greens are committed to introducing Same-Sex Marriage.   


(ii) How each of the Parties propose to address their idea of the main issues

Andrew Nikolic, Liberal MPThe Liberal-National Party claim that they will bring the Federal Budget back into surplus and eliminate the national debt. They claim this can be done without increasing taxation and by curtailing Government spending. The Liberals claim that Australia’s national debt costs fifteen billion dollars ($15,000,000,000) a year in interest. If this debt could be eliminated, it is claimed that it would allow for increased spending on such things as health and education. 

The Labor Party claim that they will bring the Federal Budget back into surplus and eliminate the national debt within ten years. They also claim that they can increase spending on health and education. 

The Greens Party claim that Federal Budget deficits serve the national interest because they ensure that essential services can be provided for. The Greens want to introduce a Carbon Tax and incentives to transition to renewable energy. They would also close all detention centres and increase refugee/asylum-seeker intakes.

*I apologise to all the other Political Parties for not including a summary of their positions.


  (iii) What the main issues really are!

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
Proverbs 14:34


It seems to me that each of the Parties have identified at least some of the important issues facing Australia, but have, perhaps, failed to recognise the preeminent ones. 



The role of Government is to uphold justice, promote the welfare of its citizens, provide common defence, and maintain the blessings of liberty. But it seems that we have come to expect a lot more from our governments today. I am surprised by how the question, “What is the government going to do about this?” is applied today. For example: education. But I’m not nearly as surprised by politicians who make commitments to do things on behalf of a government that were never considered the role of government – such as: ‘middle-class’ or ‘corporate’ welfare, introducing ‘taking offence’ laws – and no-one seems to question this very idea! 



On two occasions throughout this 2016 Federal election campaign did two of the most pressing issues facing Australia get a mention. As important as the economy is, these issues are infinitely more important than how wealth is created and distributed. In fact, I would like to make the case that the issue of the welfare of the vulnerable is a profound economic factor on our nation – at least because it reveals the ‘moral temperature’ of our nation. When any nation’s moral compass is distorted by the magnetism of personal interest over national interest (which is a form of immorality known as ‘Moral Relativism’) it is economically doomed! Greece is a tragic recent example of this where its citizens voted for massive Government spending increases which gave them each a pension from the age of 55 which was annually many times their final year’s salary! 


There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
Proverbs 14:12





The two moments in this election campaign when both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition were caught off guard occurred when the plight of the vulnerable was exposed to the media’s glare. The first instance was early in the campaigning while the second happened last week. Bill Shorten was asked a question by a 19 year-old girl in Woy Woy (NSW) about his Party’s priority regarding suicide prevention in Australia. Initially he seemed to dismiss the question as a bit of a left-field issue. He then turned to his town-hall audience and asked them if any of them had been affected by suicide.

Suicide rates in Australia have risen 20% between 2004 – 2014
(source: Former Mental Health Advisory Chief Adjunct Professor John Mendoza, 2016)




In response to this moment, Mr Shorten has committed his party to trialling 12 pilot programs around Australia to address mental health and suicide. This is commendable. But unfortunately it misses a very big point. At the heart of why Australians are despairing, and consequently taking their lives, is the cultural promotion by successive governments of moral-relativism (that we each determine what is right and wrong because there is no external/objective, point of reference). The removal of objectivism (that we draw our morals and values from an Absolute Standard) from the Australian psyche by nearly all sides of politics has been subtle and largely unchallenged. It has dire consequences though.




Suicide rate in Australia – 2009-2012


Not only has the term secular (which has always meant ‘non-religious’) come to be synonymous with moral-relativism it has been unquestionably redefined as ‘anti-religious’. And this is what moral-relativism does: It continually redefines everything. By its very nature it has no choice but to do so – because it is not grounded in anything fixed, such as God. Rather, it is subject to personal whims. It is almost the perfect Trojan Idea-Horse of our day. Rather than aggressively invading culture with its non-sense it has instead dressed itself as a beautiful, creative, appealing, artful centre-piece of culture – just as the ancient Macedonians were able to do to the unsuspecting citizens of Troy. And like the unsuspecting Trojans, one thing inevitably leads to another and then ultimately to their greatest detriment. This is what moral-relativism will do, and can only do, to any culture!


When everything about our culture tells its citizens that there is no fixed reference point for right or wrong, true or false, good or bad, purpose or meaninglessness, is it any wonder that its most vulnerable citizens think there is no point to living?  


The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
John 10:10


The second moment in this campaign happened when Prime Minister Turnbull was asked by a Queensland female medical student, Ashley, about the plight of the dozens of abortion survivors who are left to die after they are born. These unwanted babies, who are aborted ‘late-term’ (after 5 months in the womb) who somehow survived these attempts to abort them are left to die as they impulsively cry for nurture.

You don’t have to be religious to be deeply concerned about the plight of our most vulnerable citizens – those who are suicidal and those who are utterly defenceless against those who seek to take their lives. At the recent electorate candidate forum I was greatly grieved to hear the Liberal candidate say that the latter should be “safe, legal and rare”. I was upset when the Labor candidate said that it was a woman’s right. I was disappointed that the Greens candidate said it was a woman’s body and she had a right to do to it whatever she wanted. I restrained myself from asking them about the analogy of an owner of an apartment building who owned the building and its land freehold (without a mortgage), and wanted to demolish it with explosives, even though it was known that there was someone in their building at the time. Even though they owned the building, do they still have the right to demolish it even there was someone alive inside it at the time? We need to remember that a pregnant mother hosts another being who possesses distinct DNA, a distinct blood type, measurable brain-waves from ten weeks after conception, and independent movement, from its mother!

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,
Luke 1:41


Has Australia Succumbed To The Trojan Horse Of Moral-Relativism?

Moral-relativism distorts the way a culture can think clearly about issues. This is why the issue of Same-Sex Marriage is so telling.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools
Romans 1:20-22

I am flabbergasted at the ‘logic’ used to promote this radical moral-relativism. Because I understand the nature of Trojan Idea-Horses, I am far less flabbergasted than most at the response of those inside, or aligned to, the Trojan Idea-Horse when they exhibit scandalised mockery toward to those who dare stand up to it. Their ironic moral disgust toward anyone who dares believes differently to their opinion – that everyone’s opinion is equally correct – would ordinarily be labelled as illogical if it wasn’t for the fact that moral-relativism celebrates the illogical. They have cleverly brought in their moral-relativism in the form of an Idealogical Trojan Horse which has been draped with completely disconnected words such as loveequalityjustice.

Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger. 

¶ And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said:
“I am young in years, and you are aged;
therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you.
Job 32:4-6

Labor-rainbowLike Elihu in the Book of Job, I simply expected my senior colleagues within the Church, who have impressive titles of national honour, to have pointed out the obvious and glaring flaws in such Trojan propositions before these illogical ideas could gain entrance into the centre of the Town Square. But no. I expected that someone, somewhere, with a national voice, would have pointed out that marriage is not, was not, never was, about bestowing social standing to a couple. But no-one has. I expected that someone, somewhere, with a national voice would have pointed out that love is not the reason or the prerequisite for a couple to marry (“love” does not occur anywhere in the Marriage Act). This would of course mute the appeal that if two people love each other, they should have the right to marry. Putting aside the false notion that marriage is a right, and addressing the equally absurd notion that “love” is the only criteria for marriage, why hasn’t anyone asked whether “love” will be the new and sole prerequisite for marriage with the proposed introduction of same-sex marriage? I’d be very curious how I as a Marriage Celebrant will be required to test/prove/demonstrate this criteria is met in order for a marriage to proceed. Presently, the prerequisites for marriage are clear, as any Marriage Celebrant is required to check, and include –

  • Complementary Gender (everyone in Australia is treated equally by insisting that since marriage is the union of one man with one woman voluntarily entered into for life for the purpose of having or raising children where possible, it is necessary that this unique relationship necessarily be between a man and a woman)
  • Appropriate Relationship (a marriage cannot be between a parent and child, or between siblings)
  • Attained Age (the individuals forming the marriage union must be at least 18 years old. It would be inappropriate for 6 year olds to marry.)
  • Identifiable Person (one of the final Statutory Declarations a couple signs before proceeding with their marriage has as its opening declaration, “I am a person”. A person can not marry their pet, their favourite tree, their football club, or their car.)
  • Eligible Status (a person must be eligible to marry, that is, legally single and not already married)

(This mandatory criteria form the acronym, “G.R.A.P.E.”)

Added to these facts, which justly apply to every Australian equally, I expected that someone would point out that not only do these 5 criteria apply to every Australian equally, but that they can only to individuals – and never to couplesThat is, marriage is not the recognition of a couple – it does not bestow status to a couple – it changes the status of an individual. If this was just pointed out, so many of the arguments for same-sex marriage – about giving same-gender couples equal recognition – would never go unchallenged, because more people would be able to immediately point out that that is not what marriage does now, and neither can it. Thus, when I hear a political candidate claim that marriage is all about “love” (when in fact it is about the commitment between a man and woman that best environs the having and/or raising of children where possible), or that it is about giving equal status to same-gendered couples (when marriage is not about the status of any couple!), and that same-sex marriage legislation is necessary to address the abnormally high mental-health issues and suicide-rates among the LGBT communities (when in fact, wherever same-sex marriage legislation has been introduced, there has been no such expected improvement and in many cases it has actually got worse). And again, sadly, no national Church leader seems to have pointed these facts out to these unqualified politicians.

The Christian’s defence of the uniqueness of marriage is not narrow-minded bigotry, or hatred toward same-sex attracted people. The ache that same-sex attracted people feel cannot be soothed by same-sex marriage (as the evidence clearly shows). Thus, the idea of Same-Sex Marriage is really a Same-Sex Mirage! The Christian agrees with Jesus Christ who defined marriage very clearly –

He (Jesus) answered, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
Matthew 19:4-5 

If the role of government is to uphold the welfare of its citizens, it cannot in good conscience support that which harms them, which these two pressing issues clearly do. Yes, we want our government to be economically responsible and minimise wasteful spending, to tax fairly, and distribute resources to those less fortunate. But we also need the government to acknowledge that it plays a significant role in shaping our culture and its values, which in turn have a direct bearing on the welfare of people. Arguably, national interest is best served when a government supports and promotes the family unit – rather than undermining it. It would then be going a long to addressing our most critical economic and social issues including: family breakdown, divorce, domestic violence, pedophilia, teen pregnancies, homelessness, illicit drug abuse, suicide, mental-health, education, and health. This election, please consider whether the candidate you are voting for is prepared to acknowledge and address these most serious welfare issues.

Your Pastor,


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Last Sunday we were treated to an exceptional feast from our young adults. I say “exceptional” because what we heard from “rebellious” Rachel last Sunday was not typical Generation Z (“Gen Z”) thinking. Gen Z’ers are generally unsure whether there are objective moral standards. Rachel wasn’t. She was adamant that the GOD who created us is the Source and Standard for determining what is right and wrong (“morality”). Gen Z’ers are generally sure that sexuality and gender is self-determined, and — in what is a contradiction to this position, but believed to be equally true (this is called “cognitive dissonance”) — even predetermined. But Rachel refuted this, declaring that the Bible which Jesus Christ declared was “Scripture” which He also declared “could not be broken” (John 10:35) was very clear that GOD created mankind biologically male and female with bodies that corresponded to the sex (“gender”) and that sexuality was designed by GOD to only be expressed within the bond of holy marriage which Jesus said could only be between a man and a woman (Matt. 19:4-6). Gen Z’ers are generally unsure if life has any point or purpose. But Rachel was certain that it did, and was equally certain that it was grounded in following Christ and obeying GOD. No wonder she described herself as rebellious – because she is rebelling against the thinking/assumptions/values of most of her Gen Z contemporaries! Lest anyone think that we don’t care about this generation, I want present several reasons why we do, and why there is a spiritual crisis among most Gen Z’ers that we should all be very, very, concerned about.


What would the earth look like if the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray was answered? What would a world where God’s will was the only will that was enacted look like? The answer is the same for both questions: it would look like Heaven. John Lennon was wrong to encourage people to imagine there is no heaven. Imagining there is no Heaven comforts no-one. Imagining there is no Heaven robs people of a vision of what our earth could be. Imagining there is no Heaven denies people of a foundational reality of our universe and thus leaves them vulnerable to other and all sorts of nonsense. No John Lennon, we must imagine what Heaven is like and pray what Jesus, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, the Chief Commander of the forces of Heaven, the One who could command 12-legions of Heaven’s mightiest angels to obliterate anyone who dared to defy Him (but chose not to), commanded us to pray — Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven! I want to challenge you to reimagine Heaven (not reinvent or reconstruct it) so that we might see what Christ wanted us to pray for and work toward being an answer to this sacred prayer.


As Jesus prepared to approach the Cross, He gathered His disciples in Jerusalem and addressed them over a sacred meal in a private, secluded, upstairs room. As He began to address them an enemy entered that room which only Jesus could see. This enemy whispered into the invisible ear of the one he had already lured into a love for money. Jesus recognised this dark voice. He had previously heard it in a wilderness exchange that He refused to succumb to. In a matter of minutes Jesus would dismiss His traitor and betrayer and talk only to His remaining terrified disciples. “You will all leave Me” He told them. Peter, who was always quick to speak, spoke up in response, “I will lay down my life for You.” Eventually he would. But not this night. This night, all but one would indeed flee from Jesus and leave Him friendless. Alone? No. Jesus said, “Yet I am not alone!” And even though you might feel alone, you too, are not. Here’s why.


I was required to write an assignment about pastoral time-management. This involved accounting for every 15-minute block of my work days over a period of a few weeks. I then had to examine the life of Christ to both observe how Jesus managed His time and what I could learn from this. This assignment was an important moment not just in my pastoral ministry but also in my life more generally as I discovered that Jesus prioritised His time around His Father’s mission for Him and how this incorporated “interruptions”. Jesus would often be on His way somewhere and someone would interrupt Him but rather than regarding this interruption as annoying set-back to His mission, He often turned it into a miraculous moment as He took time to minister to someone. And despite how interrupted Jesus was, He also prioritised time alone with His Father away from the crowds and even His disciples. These insights into our Saviour’s ability to stay focused on His mission while always treating interruptions as divine appointments for ministry transformed my attitude considerably. And this little explanation about how I now regard interruptions sets up how I handled what happened next on the day that I came in early to turn the heaters on for the MOPs ladies…


When was the last time someone said to you, “I was wrong and I am sorry”? For some people these words have never passed their lips. Some of these people may never have made a mistake, done anything wrong, or ever needlessly ever hurt someone so they may never had an occasion where they needed to say those words. But, if you have ever had someone tell you something that they knew was untrue as if it was true, or claimed that something was a fact that you later discovered was actually not a fact — and so did they — have they ever come back to you and said, “I was wrong and I am sorry”? If this has never been your experience, it’s about to be — because I’m going to say it to you. 


When the New Testament refers to “the cross of Christ” (1Cor. 1:17) it is also referring to His journey to the cross (known as His ‘passion’). This journey (Christ’s passion) began on earth with His incarnation in the womb of the virgin Mary. While the incarnation of the Word was the greatest miracle, His work on the cross was the greatest public miracle. It is also true that the death of Christ on the cross has now provided the means by which any repentant sinner can be forgiven of their sins and made right with God. But it is also true that the death of Christ on the cross means not just this, and, much more than this. This also involves understanding that not only does the New Testament use the expression the cross or the cross of Christ to include the events leading up to the cross, it also encompasses the events proceeding after the cross – including Christ’s resurrection, ascension and glorification.


Many people are attempting to create their own calm. Self-made calm is very difficult to create. The reasons for this are not only obvious but are also easily verified by everyone who has tried it. The peace and quiet sought from such a calm is too easily disrupted by the ordinary, everyday, pressures of life. Even those who seek the solace of calm by taking a vacation readily find that even there (on a beach, down a ski field, up a mountain, cruising around south Pacific islands) and then (summer, winter, autumn, spring) life’s uninvited surprises can be very disruptive. While mankind is generally unable to conjure the kind of calm that we each relish, there is a calm that comes from the knowledge that whatever may come our way there is One who knows us best and knows what’s best for each one despite our seemingly gravitational pull toward doubting it. Thus, while we long for a soul-enriching calm that dispels all of our anxieties, fears, uncertainties, and cravings for acceptance, there awaits each one of us a God-made calm that is offered freely because of the Eternal One who gave up His pleasure, comfort, riches, and divine acceptance, to make it possible when He was brutally spiked to a splintered Roman crucifix. What to many may just be a recollection of a moment which inspired much religious art was actually a Moment that defined a turning point in time itself. The time before this Moment is known as “BC” and the time after this Moment (when eternity intersected time itself) became known as “AD”. The result of this Moment was more profound than any one person has ever realised as evidenced by the tomes that are still be laboriously written elderly and learned theologians. But here is a glimpse of what they have come to realise happened as a result of this Moment and the infinite calm it now affords each of us. 


Everyone is searching for it and most people do not know what it is! Those who are searching for it do not know where to look and often look in all the wrong places. The ancient book of Ecclesiastes describes this search and how its main character looked for it vainly in religion, work, pleasure, sex, and even education. The quest for it is additionally hindered because most of those searching for it can not even describe what it looks like — yet, frustratingly, they have a sense that it is something very precious that they have now lost. This feeling is if they have a memory they can not recall. All that they are left with is this gnawing sense that it is now lost and they are now lost without it. What they are unaware of is that their thwarted search is a part of sinister scheme designed to keep them from ever recovering their lost memory and being reunited with it. Just like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth character, Gollum, their ever-present enemy has ensured that are befriended by several Gollum-like friends who continually assure them that nothing is missing, and there is no it. 

But when they sleep at night they dream about it. In their dreams they find it and their sadness turns to happiness; their loneliness turns to the warm friendship and intimate love; their sense of guilt and shame turns to the joy of being forgiven and accepted; their nagging feeling of enslavement to ignorance turns to unparalleled freedom; their awareness of being unclean gives way to an overwhelming delight of being washed and clean. But then they awake and renew their quest to find it.

“Like a lamb”

The surprising conclusion to the story of God’s plan of redemption and the climax of each of the four Gospels, is that “the Lamb has conquered” (Rev. 17:14) — not by military might, but being killed and then conquering death itself!


I’m heading into a new season. Last Sunday marked the beginning of a new season for our church. I always knew this season was coming. I had just thought that it was still a few years off. When we arrived in Legana in 1995 it was love at first sight. We had lived in a high-density part of Melbourne, just ten minutes out of the city centre, where we had been pioneering a church in a very needy part of the city. When the Lord called us to Tasmania we were initially unsure where we were going to be called. Then it became obvious that the Holy Spirit was calling us to Launceston — where we would be based in Legana (ten minutes north of the city of Launceston). Whenever anyone asked, “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you really want to live?” My answer has always been the same: “Right here.” Yet, Kim and I always knew that the day would come when we would have to transition into a new season. As I was convalescing and physically battling with what appeared to be chronic fatigue, in my daily Bible reading I read the story of the turning-point in King David’s seasons. He had once been the young “giant-killing king of Israel” who was now the sixty-year-old weary king who was about to be killed by a giant named Ishi-benob. This became the moment when four very young men stepped-up and did what their previous generation thought was impossible: they each killed a giant!