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Voting requires careful - and prayerful - consideration

Opinion

St Patrick’s Day is always an important date on the Catholic calendar but this year it has much broader significance because it is the day South Australians will go to the polls to elect our State Government.

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The March 17 election is shaping up to be one of the most extraordinary elections South Australians have ever faced because of the different political forces at play, in particular the influence of minority parties and Independents.

When faced with the possibility of significant change, it is vital that we go back to our core values and beliefs. We need to delve deeply into our own minds and hearts to discern what – and who – the State needs at this time in history. What legacy will we leave our children? Who do we trust to uphold our Christian values? These are some of the questions we need to ask ourselves.

Whichever way we vote, our decision should be based on the conviction that the people we elect have a responsibility to respond to the needs of everyone in the community as they develop and implement policies relating to education, health, disability services, aged care and social welfare.

We need to look carefully at how the candidates have demonstrated their credibility in terms of reaching out to those on the margins and their ability to tackle the big challenges such as lack of affordable housing, unemployment and rising utility costs.

Similarly, we also need to consider their track record in acting truthfully and responsibly as well as their views on important moral issues such as euthanasia, human trafficking and the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

In a stable democracy like Australia, it is easy to take for granted the right to vote and the importance of having our say on who governs our State. That right comes with a responsibility to be well informed and to cast our vote with the interests of the common good at heart. As Christians, we should not be selfish and think about what we might get out of the election result but rather, what it will mean for the most vulnerable in our society.

In our Catholic schools, we are committed to providing a nurturing environment and excellent education to children from different backgrounds and socio-economic status. This has been an over-riding principle of Catholic education since it was developed by St Mary of the Cross MacKillop and the Josephite Order at the turn of the century. As such, I urge you to read the information provided by Catholic Education SA on their website about the funding commitments of the various parties.

And don’t be afraid to ask your local candidates what their views are on important social and moral issues.

But when listening to the policies and promises of politicians, I would suggest you also listen to the only voice that really matters – the voice of God. To this end, prayer is an essential part of the Christian journey to the election. We ask God to guide us and help us to vote in a way that demonstrates we are his true disciples and are committed to loving Him and loving our neighbour.

 

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