In Politics

In the recent Western Australian election the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) dramatically increased its primary vote and played a decisive role in the installation of the new conservative government.

In an article titled “Labor ruing failure to engage” published in WA Business News (23 October 2008), Joe Poprzeczny writes that the Liberals narrowly won a number of seats “because of Christian Democratic Party … preferences.”

Sometimes preferences can make the difference between retaining or losing government. Without CDP preferences the Liberals would have languished in opposition and Labor would have remained in power for another four years.

CDP preferences secured the seats of Riverton, Morley, Southern River, Jandakot and Wanneroo for the Liberal Party. And, praise God, at least four of the five new Liberal members in these seats are Christian and/or pro-life!

The election of the new government with CDP preferences should put a stop to much of Labor’s radical social agenda. Some of the worst of the former government’s anti-Christian and anti-family legislation will now be repealed by the somewhat more socially conservative Liberal government.

For example, the new Premier, Colin Barnett, has promised to repeal Labor’s prostitution laws. Life Ministries and other Christian organisations helped to defeat several attempts to legalise prostitution over the past decade. But, earlier this year Labor finally achieved its objective of legalising prostitution—or so we thought until Premier Alan Carpenter called and subsequently lost an early election prior to the Prostitution Amendment Bill 2008 being proclaimed and its provisions coming into force. Premier Colin Barnett has pledged to repeal the prostitution legislation. And he is in a position to do so because of the crucial role that the CDP played in helping to elect the new government.

Premier Barnett has also pledged to repeal Labor’s 2004 marijuana laws—laws that effectively decriminalised marijuana cultivation and use. Under Labor’s laws, people caught in possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana (a pack of cigarettes contains approximately 14.6 grams of tobacco) were merely issued with a “Cannabis Infringement Notice” and fined between $100 and $150. Instead of paying the fine, users had the option of attending a “Cannabis Education Session”, but over the past four years there was a poor attendance rate. In the future, repeat offenders will be charged with a criminal offence. The strengthening of marijuana laws, which will help to protect people who otherwise might have become users, is also only possible because of the role the CDP played in helping to elect the new government.

In recognition of the fact that marijuana and other drugs have seriously harmed many people, Liberal MLA, Dr Graham Jacobs, who is a committed Christian, has been given the newly created Mental Health Portfolio. This Portfolio has been set up specifically to help people with mental health difficulties.

The allocation of preferences is not the only way that CDP played a crucial role in the WA election. CDP has also influenced the selection of some of the candidates that the other parties fielded. When negotiating preferences with other parties, CDP has repeatedly stressed that in order to receive CDP preferences in a particular seat, the major party must field a pro-life candidate in that seat.

During final preference negotiations in the lead up to the recent state election, an official from a major party proudly told CDP that his party had selected a candidate who was “pro-life, a social conservative and a committed Christian” for a particular seat. They had chosen this candidate specifically with CDP preferences in mind: for they believed that their candidate could not be elected without them and that their candidate could not get them without being pro-life. (Being pro-life was the requirement: being a conservative and a Christian was a bonus!) As it turns out, their candidate was elected to parliament! It is difficult to overstate the importance of this: a conservative, pro-life, Christian candidate was selected by a major party because of CDP negotiations at the pre-selection stage and that candidate is now in the state parliament because of CDP preferences.

CDP’s vote increased substantially in the country regions where most of its campaign efforts and resources were directed. CDP’s vote increased by 22 per cent and 27 per cent respectively in the Agriculture and South West Upper House Regions! Indeed, CDP missed out winning a seat in the Agricultural Region by only 483 votes!

In the East Metropolitan Region, the CDP candidate, Dwight Randall (who is also the director of Life Ministries), could have been elected to the Upper House if the Liberals had not achieved such an extraordinary swing. Ultimately, instead of Liberal preferences being passed to Dwight and electing him, Dwight’s preferences went to the Liberal candidate, Alyssa Hayden, and elected her to the Legislative Council.

Dwight was pleased with the level of support received from his candidates for the Legislative Assembly seats in East Metropolitan Region and very thankful for the hundreds of Christian people who helped at polling booths on his behalf on Election Day. Other CDP candidates were similarly pleased with the help they received from fellow candidates and fellow Christians.

Candidates and officials of the Christian Democratic Party were, of course, deeply disappointed at the Party’s failure to win a seat at the state election. And yet they appreciate that the influence of the CDP is not limited to, and cannot be measured by, the winning of seats. Indeed, as they have taken stock of all that has happened in recent months, they are deeply gratified that God has used them as a significant force for good concerning the government of this state.

May the Party’s supporters similarly be encouraged—and determined to fight on! And who know but that God may grant electoral victory in a seat or three come the next election?

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