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Christian community hears from Howard, Rudd -

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Christian community hears from Howard, Rudd

Broadcast: 09/08/2007

Reporter: Tom Iggulden

Tens of thousands of Christians gathered at over 700 venues across Australia to watch a live
webcast featuring speeches from John Howard and Kevin Rudd.


TONY JONES: Church met state this evening when Australia's Christian community supplied a hi-tech
pulpit to John Howard and Kevin Rudd.

Tens of thousands of Christians gathered at hundreds of venues across the nation to watch a live
webcast featuring speeches from the two political leaders.

As the run to the federal election gathers pace, it would seem that both the Prime Minister and the
Opposition Leader are keen to receive the blessing of Australia's truest believers.

And the Prime Minister used the occasion to announce almost $200 million to help families screen
internet sites and boost online surveillance by the Australian Federal Police.

Tom Iggulden reports.

TOM IGGULDEN: Sunday might be a few days off but it was lights, camera, action at Sydney's Hillsong
Church tonight.

Tonight's sermons were from John Howard and Kevin Rudd, the readings from their party's election

HILLSONG LEADER: But before we hear from them, we're going to pray, we're going to pray for them
and all the people.

TOM IGGULDEN: By now, Christians from the bigger churches in the more marginal seats are used to
close attention from politicians at this stage in the electoral cycle.

But there was still curiosity about what was in store.

VOX POP 1: Either one. Yeah, their both God-minded.

TOM IGGULDEN: So, do you think anything they'll say tonight will sway your vote, for instance?

VOX POP 1: Oh, I'm for John Howard, yeah that side, but either way I won't be disappointed.

VOX POP 2: I've always supported the Labor Party.

TOM IGGULDEN: Are you encouraged by the fact that Kevin Rudd is a Christian and he's out there with
his Christian beliefs?

VOX POP 2: Well, I'm encouraged by the fact that John Howard is a Christian as well, so is Peter
Costello. I suppose WorkChoices are really gone against them in a way I'm concerned.

TOM IGGULDEN: And then it was on with the show.

TOM IGGULDEN: People here say from a Christian point of view, they can't lose. They see two
leaders, both with strong Christian beliefs and a commitment to family values. But with 100,000
people claimed to be watching, it's an opportunity to stake out the moral high ground.

TOM IGGULDEN: The Prime Minister got a few laughs early...

JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: I acknowledge of course that God is neither Labor or
Liberal. (audience laughs)

TOM IGGULDEN: ... and struck a chord with by telling Christians they have nothing to be embarrassed

JOHN HOWARD: The predominant religious culture in our society is Christianity and I always find it
odd that you have to demonstrate your tolerance by denying your own heritage.

TOM IGGULDEN: He says the Parable of the Good Samaritan informs much of his political thinking. But
another, less well-known, lesson from the bible guided his policy on small businesses.

JOHN HOWARD: Parable of the Talents, to me has always been, has always seemed to me to be the "free
enterprise parable". The parable that tells us that we have a responsibility if we are given assets
to add to those assets.

TOM IGGULDEN: Not that that means the poor miss out under Mr Howard, whatever his detractors say.

JOHN HOWARD: That we're indifferent to the vulnerable, we're only interested in the prosperous
middle class and we really don't care very much about others and we're pretty indifferent to the
poor in our society.

That's a charge that I not only take keenly, but I fairly vigorously reject.

TOM IGGULDEN: And, he gave examples, everything from the Government's on-going intervention into
the Northern Territory's poverty and violence stricken Aboriginal community's to the Government's
foreign aid program.

And of course no stump speech, even one carried over the internet, would have been complete without
a sweetener, this one aimed squarely at family values.

JOHN HOWARD: And I, therefore, announce a new initiative called Net Alert, protecting Australian
families online.

TOM IGGULDEN: Kevin Rudd opened with a joke as well.

KEVIN RUDD, OPPOSITION LEADER: Did the Prime Minister give you the date of the election? If he did,
I'll be outside.

TOM IGGULDEN: The Opposition Leader's worn his Christianity on his sleeve for much of his political

Tonight he explained why.

KEVIN RUDD: For me, the question of personal faith also provides a compass point for my life. It
also, therefore, helps shapes the views that I hold to be true.

TOM IGGULDEN: And like Mr Howard, he put a Christian spin on his party's political strengths.

KEVIN RUDD: From a Christian perspective we are custodians of the planet. We have a responsibility
too ensure that those who come after us have a planet which is habitable.

TOM IGGULDEN: And like Mr Howard, he came to the question of how governments should treat the poor
and underprivileged.

KEVIN RUDD: Be mindful of giving voice to the voiceless. And to have a view that compassion is not
a weakness, it is one of our greatest strengths.

TOM IGGULDEN: Around a dozen times in his speech tonight, the Opposition Leader said his Christian
beliefs gave him a unifying vision for the nation.

And what is that vision?

KEVIN RUDD: How can we be a country which has hard heads and soft hearts?

TOM IGGULDEN: And, presumably, one that votes Labor.

Tom Iggulden, Lateline.