Election day is Saturday 21st May! Early voting starts on the 9th May…
Aussies are known for their laid-back approach to politics. But with so many important issues at stake this year — whether the sanctity of life, the rights of families, or civic freedoms like freedom of speech and freedom of religion — it is vital that we understand our electoral system so we can really make our vote count.
Let’s take a moment to be thankful that in Australia, we are not ruled by a dictator or the mob majority. Instead, thanks to our Judeo-Christian heritage, Australians are ruled by something with an authority higher than any ruler: our Constitution.
This system, still quite new in human history, is known as the “rule of law”. On this foundation, western democracies have built the freest, safest, wealthiest and most generous societies on earth.
To shape the law, we elect our peers to represent us in Canberra. They form two houses — the House of Representatives (lower house) and the Senate (upper house). Only if a bill passes both houses of parliament does it become law. Crafting, debating and voting on legislation is the main role of parliament, so it’s really important who we send there to do the job.
It is the back-and-forth of regular elections that keeps our country relatively free of civil conflict. As philosopher Yoram Hazony explains:
One party rules for a fixed term, but its rivals know they will get to rule in turn if they can win the next election. It is the possibility of being able to take power and rule the country without widespread killing and destruction that entices all sides to lay down their weapons and take up electoral politics instead.
In May, we will be voting to fill 151 lower house seats. These represent 151 electorates from around Australia — geographical zones with roughly equal populations. How you vote on the white ballot paper will help determine the lower house member from your electorate who is sent to Canberra for the next three years. The party that wins the majority of these seats gets to form government, and their leader becomes the Prime Minister.
You’ll also receive a coloured ballot paper, where you will vote for senators. Every state elects 12 senators, regardless of their population. The territories (NT and ACT) elect two senators each. This makes for a total of 72 seats in the upper house. But senators serve for six years, so only 40 of those seats will be voted on at this year’s election.
The Australian Christians have two senate candidates for Western Australia — Mike Crichton and Maryka Groenewald. If you live in WA, we hope you’ll put us first on your ballot, and use our how-to-vote card to number the other candidates for the best possible outcome in our state.
We are also standing candidates in nine WA lower house electorates — Brand, Burt, Canning, Cowan, O’Connor, Pearce, Perth, Swan, Tangney. If you happen to live in one of these electorates, once again, we hope you’ll “Vote 1” Australian Christians, and follow our how-to-vote advice so our recommendations favour Christian values in Canberra.
Small Christian parties like the Australian Christians can truly make a positive impact. There is a good chance that AC will see at least one senator elected — that’s six years of positive influence in Australia’s capital. We also hope to see lower house members elected. Even if they are not, our preference flows will benefit the candidates we believe will most faithfully represent Jesus and his kingdom values.
Moreover, if we gain at least 4 per cent of the vote on any ticket, the Australian Christians will be eligible for public funding, giving us greater resources and influence at the following election.
We are very blessed in Australia, where minor parties like the Australian Christians can hold the “balance of power” in parliament. What this means is that the government of the day must find support from minor party members (or “crossbenchers”) in order to pass any legislation. This gives minor parties considerable power in shaping those bills for the better and also finding support for their own bills.
Our prayer is that the Australian Christians will form part of the crossbench. From that place of influence, we hope God will use us to protect and advance Christian values, freedoms and principles in our nation, for the good of all Australians.