Govt ministers to brief Christian counterparts

Prime Minister John Howard and Health Minister Tony Abbott are among the speakers at an unusual parliamentary gathering today in which senior ministers will brief Christian church leaders on various policy issues ahead of next year's election.

According to the ABC, the meeting is being held to give churches a say on Liberal policy.

The ABC believes that the religious lobby group, Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), is involved in the meeting, however, neither the ACL nor the Prime Minister's office are commenting.

Following Mr Howard's address, Alexander Downer will talk about foreign policy, Amanda Vanstone about refugees, and Sharman Stone about industrial relations.

Julie Bishop, Tony Abbott, Helen Coonan and Philip Ruddock will also speak.

Sydney Anglican Archdeacon Terry Dein, one of the church leaders attending, told the ABC that it is an unusual opportunity.

"To the best of my knowledge this is the first time it's been organised in this manner," he said.

"I'm there to observe and to listen primarily and the issues that I'm going to take particular interest in are welfare and industrial reform and immigration and refugees.

"So I'll be attending those seminars and discussion groups, and they're all of interest to me, but clearly one can only be in one place at one time."

Today's meeting follows the Labor Party's recent "Family Watch Task Force" meeting in which Catholic Social Services Australia and other church-related organisations presented their point of view to the Opposition.

PM, ministers to brief Christian leaders (ABC News Online, 5/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Christian Lobby

Catholic Social Services challenges Labor on commitment to poor (CathNews 22/8/06)

The religious right on the move again (OnlineOpinion 22/8/06)

6 Sep 2006