TASMAD (Australia blogger) Previous articles
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Why I voted for the Greens
There are two issues where my Catholic faith and the Australian Greens Party’s policies do not agree: abortion and marriage equality. I am passionate about defending those without a voice – such that those who have not yet been born, so on this issue, I can never agree with the Greens.
As for marriage equality, I certainly do believe in the sanctity of marriage, and that God has created us to be able to procreate in natural form. I am also aware that many Catholics actually support legalising marriage equality. Also, I am mindful that other Catholics are neutral with this issue, as long as the law does not force the Church to recognise same-sex marriage. This issue will not be discussed further, as it is not the contention of this article.
In fact, I feel that marriage equality was not even a major issue in this election. I felt that people were more concerned with their hip pockets – which transcended into other issues like xenophobia.
Instead, this article will focus on many areas where the Greens actually support Catholic social teaching and hence why I voted for the Greens. I will begin with my area of expertise: Catholic education.
Recently, Catholic Education Offices around Australia have released a statement, asking schools to inform parents that if the Greens had any say, Catholic schools would be the biggest loser. If you see "winning" and "losing" solely in terms of government funding, then yes, you have a point. But being at the forefront of Catholic education myself, I dispute this claim.
I am also aware that many Catholic children do not go to Catholic schools. Those who live in regional centres, especially small country towns, may not have access to Catholic schools. Additionally, even in major cities, many Catholic children go to state schools. By evenly distributing funding across all schools, many impoverished schools – often with huge Catholic populations – will get some resources to improve themselves. I feel it is important that the have-nots get a lift, so they can be on the same level as the haves. Yes, this may detract away from Catholic schools getting more money, but it is also important that all schools get a chance to be the best that they can be.
Just a little aside, there is fear that the Greens might stop all religious instructions in government schools. For starters, this is not a point of worry, since the Christian lobbies are often quite strong – I am quite confident that religious instructions in schools will not be terminated. However, the whole notion of religious instruction in state schools actually scares me. Here is why:
In Catholic schools, we have Religious Education (the teaching of students about religions, how they formed their tradition, and the issues surrounding the religion itself). On the other hand, religious instruction is akin to catechesis – teaching people about the faith, not about the religion.
From my sources, the groups in charge of religious instruction in state schools are often very faith-oriented – sometimes "too" faith-oriented that they try to impose certain beliefs on students, rather than just teach the students about the religion and let the students make their own decisions. Officially, they are meant to teach about religion, but in practice, my sources tell me that these instructors do more than just teach. This is sad, as it can create the impression that all Christians are stubborn and are not open to other views – and as a result, may turn people away from Christianity even more. Officially, the religious instruction program does not stand for this, but my sources inform me that certain instructors bring their own agendas to the classroom. Sadly, some instructors are quite conservative and extreme in their religious views, which can render students sceptical.
I know that not all religious instructors in government schools do a bad job – some are doing great things in promoting learning about different religious traditions and enhancing dialogue between religious groups and hence making more peace in society. Until a better curriculum is formed, however, I would not be too upset if religious instruction in state schools is scraped.
Given the Catholic social teaching on the preference for the poor, it is vital that everybody gets access to quality health care, regardless of their economic status. Which is why I side with the Greens.Asylum seekers and immigration
This has actually caused some feeling among many in the electorate. I voted for the Greens because they actually advocate strongly for the rights of asylum seekers to be released from mandatory detention. Sadly, there are also many Australians who do not want to share this great southern land with people who are fleeing persecution. Which leads me to my next point.
The rise of far right parties
As I write, we know that Pauline Hanson’s party (which is basically a racist party) and Derryn Hinch (once described as Australia’s Donald Trump with a beard) have won seats in the Senate. This is a reflection that some people fear ‘the other’ – often a voiceless group, such as asylum seekers and recently-arrived immigrants. The Greens actively speak up for these marginalised people. In fact, members of the Greens are seen at most protests and forums that aim to give the marginalised a voice.
By no means am I saying that I agree with all the Greens’ policies. However, with a sense of social justice, I felt compelled to vote for the Greens. True, my vote would be directed towards the Australian Labor Party, but I am really not keen for the conservative Coalition to destroy social security such as healthcare, education and human rights.