Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

The religious Right cannot hijack values

By Kevin Rudd - posted Tuesday, 18 January 2005

Second, the Coalition increasingly implies that it is the natural party of family values. Family values would have to be the most used and abused term in Australian politics. The Coalition seeks to give this term some sort of religious gloss.

Labor, consistent with its secular tradition, argues that if we are going to have a debate about family values, then surely a family's ability to put food on the table is a family value; surely a family's ability to afford proper health care for its children is a family value; and surely making sure our children have access to a decent education is equally a family value.

The attempt by the Liberals to hijack the term into the ill-defined ether of quasi-religious language is designed to mask the fact that so many Liberal policies are anti-family in their effect.


Ask any working family whether they think the collapse of bulk billing is pro-family or not?

Parallel to the family values phenomenon is the broader moral values debate.

Here again we see the attempt by the Coalition and others to define this term as narrowly as possible - usually in terms of sex and sexuality.

But if our starting point in this debate is supposed to be Christianity (and therefore a Christian view of morality), then my challenge to the Coalition is as follows: isn't our preparedness to feed the hungry and give shelter to the homeless a moral value; isn't our preparedness to respond humanely to those who seek refuge in this country from political oppression elsewhere a moral value; and is not our response to the 1.5 billion people around the world in abject poverty also a question of moral values?

Once again I fear that the Coalition's political strategy is to define moral values as narrowly as possible in order to mask its inaction across a much wider social and economic agenda which should equally command our moral attention.

One of the great divides in Australian politics and Christianity is whether or not our responsibility to our fellow human beings is a matter of private, discretionary choice - or whether that is something which requires the collective intervention of society through the state.


There are many fine human beings in all our political parties who are great givers of their time and money to those who need help.

Labor has a view that if social justice were to rely entirely on individual acts of charity, there can be no guarantee whatsoever that all those in need are provided with humane levels of universal care.

Those of us who are Christians within the Labor tradition are not about to readily concede the ground to those who chant the mantra of family and moral values but who are disturbingly silent when it comes to taking action through government to relieve the burden of those who cannot properly fend for themselves.

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. Page 2
  4. All

First published in The Courier-Mail on December 13, 2004.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

40 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Kevin Rudd is Prime Minister of Australia.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Kevin Rudd
Photo of Kevin Rudd
Article Tools
Comment 40 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy