Campaign heats up!
BY TWT ON-THE-SPOT TEAM
Electioneering is reaching fever pitch in the Bennelong by-election campaign with just ten days to go to election day on Saturday week.
Tempers have become frayed in some parts with an altercation occurring at the Epping pre-poll voting booth between Greens and Australian Conservatives supporters. Liberal and Labor volunteers assisted as peace keepers.
Both Liberal and Labor parties have brought out their big guns daily to campaign for their respective candidates sitting MP John Alexander OAM and former NSW premier Kristina Keneally.
Religious freedom and family values
top the Christian Democrats policies
The Christian Democrats hope voters will consider religious freedom, grassroots democracy, local government rights and traditional marriage when they go to the polls on Saturday, December 16.
Christian Democrats State Director Craig Hall told The Weekly Times that a vote for candidate Gui Dong (William) Cao is also vote for traditional family values.
“Top of our list is freedom of religion, freedom of speech, traditional marriage and other traditional family values,” Mr Hall said.
“Central to our philosophy is local democracy and we hope voters will recall how Reverend Fred Nile MLC stood by voters in Ryde and Hunters Hill to fight against forced council amalgamations.
“This is central to our belief because we are a grassroots political party and Christianity itself started as a grassroots faith.”
An important part of the Christian Democrats philosophy is support for older and retired people.
“This means we will fight for quality funding for aged cut and we oppose cuts to services to aged care,” Mr Hall said.
While the Christian Democrats are unashamedly Christian in policy and ethics, the party is strictly non-denomenational.
“We don’t favour any denomination of ethnicity and we hope to have the support of the Orthodox Christian community in Bennelong as well as from Armenian, Chinese and Korean speaking Christians.”
The Christian Democrats are expected to give first preferences to the Australian Conservatives.
Julie Bishop – John Alexander
Liberal candidate in the Bennelong by-election John Alexander and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop – preferred as PM over Malcolm Turnbull according to the latest poll – team up as baristas on the campaign trail at Coffee Stop in Epping. TWT on the-spot PHOTO
Keneally campaigns on schools funding
Labor’s star candidate in the Bennelong by-election, Kristina Keneally, has continued to campaign on restoring schools funding in both the public and Catholic sector.
Last week, Ms Keneally launched a NSW Teachers Federation mobile billboard being used as part of its campaign opposing cuts of more than $11 million to schools in the Bennelong electorate by the Federal Department of Education.
She has also written to the local Catholic Diocese to reaffirm Labor’s promise to restore every dollar of the $17 billion Malcolm Turnbull has cut from schools “including funding unfairly ripped from local Catholic schools”.
“Every child should have access to the best education – no matter where their parents choose to send them,” Ms Keneally said.
“Malcolm Turnbull’s attack on Catholic schools is typcial of the Liberals’ approach to services – they cut services. Labor invests in services.
“Catholic schools play a vital role in providing a quality education to children from all kinds of backgrounds. They deserve to fairly and equitably funded.”
Malcolm Turnbull does not agree, she said, that’s why he had “ripped funding from Catholic schools across the country, including here in Bennelong”.
“I will fight to restore the funding torn from local schools and for a fair funding model based on need,” she said.
But Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, said the figures being “peddled” by the NSW Teachers’ Federation were a desperate attempt to push for an unfunded Labor promise clearly rejected four years ago.
“Students across Bennelong are set for an average boost of around $2,125 each under the Turnbull Government’s Gonski funding plan,” he said.
“There are no cuts. If the NSW Teachers’ Federation thinks an extra $19.7 million for Bennelong schools over the next decade is a “cut”, then they clearly need to go back to school.”
NSW Teachers Federation President Maurie Mulheron said the by-election was an important opportunity to hold Mr Turnbull to account for deep cuts in funding for local schools.
“It’s the same story right across the electorate of Bennelong,” he said.
“Malcolm Turnbull has slashed education funding here and Liberal candidate John Alexander has supported him all the way.”
Meanwhile, Catholic Schools NSW chief executive, Dallas McInerney, has written to Bennelong’s 11 Catholic schools asking all candidates how they will address funding shortfalls.
Mr McInerney’s deadline for responses to three key questions was today.
“In Bennelong, all 11 Catholic systemic schools will be denied the 10-year transition afforded to independent stand-alone schools,” he wrotes.
“Catholic schools in Bennelong will be $9.8 million worse off in 2018 and $52.3m worse off over the decade to 2027.”
The responses from candidates will be provided to the families of Bennelong’s Catholic school students to help inform their vote on the December 16 by-election.