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It’s that time again!

INDICATIONS ARE that Australians will go to the polls sometime fairly soon to elect a new Federal Government.

This is a very serious matter that requires our careful thought and attention, not least because political parties, in the lead up to voting day, often roll out a host of policies and make all kinds of promises that pander to our self-interest rather than address the really hard issues that cry out for concentrated and concerted effort.

I have no interest in promoting one political party over another.

I am far more interested in appraising and evaluating the commitment of each of the parties to particular matters that I believe, in the light of scripture, are especially important.

In summary, these matters bear upon: the care and conservation of the environment, including clear strategies and goals in regard to global warming and climate change; a responsible and compassionate response to the poor and disadvantaged, especially indigenous Australians; developing a generous and hospitable culture that welcomes and supports those seeking a new life in this country, and treats refugees with respect and compassion; and offering leadership in the international arena in regard to the pursuit of peace, the provision of aid to impoverished nations and the eradication of poverty.

I could add some others, but these four will serve to illustrate the point I want to make.

Scripture declares that the world God has made is a gift entrusted to our care.

In the beginning, God saw that what the divine wisdom had brought into being was “good”.

We, as the stewards of creation, are entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that it remains so.

Faithfulness to God expressed through justice for the poor, the social outcasts, the widows and orphans, and the refugees was the primary message of the Old Testament prophets.

Micah summed it up in his declaration to the people, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

In the preaching of the prophets, the spiritual health and wellbeing of the nation, and the acceptability of their worship of God, were directly related to their willingness to live in accordance with these fundamental principles.

The significance of all this in the biblical witness is given even greater emphasis when Jesus adopts a prophetic manifesto from the very beginning of his ministry, as he declares in the synagogue at Nazareth, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4:18)

I believe that the best way to prepare ourselves for a federal election is to set aside our personal interest and take time to gather and reflect on information relating to these key issues.

In that regard this issue of Journey is particularly relevant and helpful.

I want to commend Bruce Mullan, Editor of Journey, and his staff, for their initiative in gathering the responses from the various political parties that are featured in this issue.

This enables ready access to the policy statements provided and the opportunity to assess those policies in the light of what the scripture teaches us.

In addition, we can access the resources provided by the National Assembly of the Uniting Church to help us engage meaningfully and responsibly as disciples of Jesus with the issues that really matter.

It seems that the election could be announced at any time. We may already know that date by the time this issue of Journey reaches our congregations.

I urge you to take the issues seriously and also to take seriously those candidates who are willing to commit to responsible government that transcends party politics, personal self-advancement and demonstrates compassion and respect for all the people of Australia.

Beyond the election we have the further responsibility of holding our elected representatives accountable for the values and objectives they have outlined for us.