Graham Downie September 24, 2012
Canberra's Catholics are being urged to use their voice in the October 20 ACT election. Photo: Supplied
Canberra's Catholics, described by their social justice commission as timid, are being urged to use their voice in the October 20 ACT election.
''We're a big group and we represent 25 per cent of the Canberra population,'' the commission says on its website.
''That means we have influence. The issues that matter to Catholics are also issues that matter to others, so let's talk about those issues.''
Matters of particular interest to the commission, on which it has sought the views of major political parties, include education, health, gambling, climate change, welfare and justice.
The Catholic Social Justice Commission suggests, ''We all tire of politics and it can be easy to dismiss the forthcoming ACT election. But it is important that we're informed about the issues that matter, so we can vote accordingly.''
Though only about 12 per cent of Canberra's Catholics attend church regularly, and it is generally believed few are guided by their church on their voting intentions, the commission urges all Catholics to ''flex your muscle as a Canberra voter. And flex your muscle as a Canberra Catholic''.
The commission says political leaders and candidates in the October election should be aware the Catholic Social Justice Commission was established by the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn to focus attention on the Catholic Church's social teachings and how they might be applied to the complex issues that face the community.
''On matters of public policy, our fundamental principle is that government decisions should be guided by a preferential option for the poor. We recognise that applying this principle is not always straightforward, and we lay no claim to particular expertise on the wide spectrum of issues that confront public authorities.''
The commission has identified areas requiring special attention during the term of the next Legislative Assembly. These are: housing; mental health; the right to life; marriage; the justice system; education; gambling; climate change; the ACT economy and the taxation system.
A public meeting will be held at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church parish centre, Strangways Street, Curtin, beginning at 7.30pm on Thursday.
Labor, Liberal and Greens representatives will each have 10 minutes to speak with 10 minutes of questions.
Responses to the commission's survey of parties identifies some differences.
On marriage, ACT Labor says it supports the removal of discrimination from the Commonwealth Marriage Act.
Canberra Liberals support retaining the current provisions of the Act which describes marriage as a permanent and exclusive union between a man and a woman. ACT Greens support amending the Act to allow for legal marriage between two consenting adults regardless of sexuality or gender identity.
ACT Labor supports a conscience vote on euthanasia for all ACT Labor public office holders. Canberra Liberals do not support the removal of provisions that would enable euthanasia to be legalised.
The ACT Greens believe people suffering from a terminal illness and who are in intolerable pain should be able to choose a peaceful and medically-induced death.