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Susan Roylance: Pro-family prime minister elected in Australia

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 11 2013 3:25 p.m. MDT

Australian Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott, right, meets with Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson in Sydney Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. A new government prepared to take control of Australia on Sunday, with policies to cut pledges in foreign aid and to wind back greenhouse gas reduction measures in an effort to balance the nation's books.

Saeed KHAN, Associated Press

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Once again, the people have spoken, through the ballot box, in favor of marriage between a man and a woman — with the election of Tony Abbot as the 28th prime minister of Australia.

Days before the election, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd attempted to increase his support for re-election by promising to introduce a bill for same-sex marriage within 100 days of being elected if his center-left Labor Party won the election. He lost, and the Labor Party was soundly defeated.

“It didn't do him any good, probably damaged his chances, because Tony Abbott, who stood firm in defense of marriage, has overwhelmingly won the elections,” said my friend Babette Francis, National & Overseas Coordinator of Endeavour Forum (based in Australia).

In the latest count, by the Australian Electoral Commission, Abbott’s Liberal/National Coalition had won 90 seats in the Australian House of Representatives, and only 55 seats were credited to the Labor Party.

To be fair, the loss by Rudd’s Labor Party was mainly due to a slower economy and the disunity and infighting within the party, according to analysis by Jon Donnison of BBC News Sydney. However, Donnison also reports that Abbot “opposes gay marriage and has been a skeptic on climate change.”

Speaking with radio host John Laws (Sydney), Abbott said he supported the traditional definition of marriage between a man and a woman. He added, “I respect the views of people who disagree with me but I respectively disagree with them.”

Abbott is also pro-life. The Sydney Morning Herald reports Abbott to have said, ''I think there's much to be said for ensuring that abortion is 'safe, legal and rare.' The trouble, as most Australians seem to agree, is that up to 100,000 abortions a year is already far too many.'' Abbott said he would not seek to change Australia’s abortion laws, but would “be seeking to empower women to make better choices.”

One area of Abbott’s plan, which many pro-family groups dislike, is paid parental leave. His policy grants working mothers six months' leave on full pay, capped at a salary of $150,000. If the father is the baby's primary caretaker, he will receive the payment at the mother's salary. The scheme also applies to same-sex couples.

“We think his paid parental leave is awful, this is the one negative about his election,” said Francis. She said the plan discriminates against stay-at-home mothers because they would get nothing. “It is illogical for Abbott to be removing the carbon and mineral taxes but then imposing another new tax on business which we will all pay for because the big supermarkets etc. will raise their prices — so unwaged mothers will be paying higher prices,” she said.

Most families are pleased with Abbott’s plan to get rid of the carbon tax. In a letter to the Australian people, Abbott said, “Later today, I will meet with senior public servants and indicate that the first legislative priority of the Coalition will be to scrap the carbon tax - so we can make a difference to household power bills as well as jobs.”

Sydney, Australia, was the site for the World Congress of Families VII in May of 2013. The theme was "Happy Families, Healthy Economy." The final Declaration affirmed “that the sustained prosperity and happiness of nations rests on the foundation of strong natural families.”

Larry Jacobs, managing director of World Congress of Families, said “We congratulate Tony Abbott and our three Australian Partners and look forward to working with them to advance the interests of the natural family following their stunning success in Saturday’s election.”

Susan Roylance is the International Policy and Social Development Coordinator for the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society. The Howard Center is the sponsoring organization for the World Congress of Families.

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