Continuing the UCA’s dialogue with leaders in the National Parliament the UCA President, Rev Gregor Henderson and General Secretary, Rev Terence Corkin met on August 26 with Liberal Party leader, Dr Brendan Nelson, and his Chief of Staff, Peter Hendy, at Parliament House.
The conversation covered topics including: ongoing concern for the conflict in Palestine and Israel; the debate regarding a possible consultation on an Australian Charter of Rights, the Government’s seasonal guest worker’s scheme and climate change.
After reiterating the UCA’s support for all efforts to aid the peacemaking process between Israelis and Palestinians, as outlined in the Heads of Churches statement made to the Government in June, Rev Henderson and Rev Corkin spoke to the Opposition leader seeking further support.
“This meeting provided us the opportunity to stress the Uniting Church’s commitment to aiding the peacemaking process between Palestine and Israel and to encourage the Opposition to support this process, alongside strengthening Australia’s commitment to provide material aid to Palestinian refugees” said Rev Corkin.
Also discussed was the need for widespread consultation about the need for a National Human Rights Charter, which the National Assembly Standing Committee resolved to support in March and the three year pilot seasonal workers scheme that will benefit workers from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.
Rev Corkin commented, “We advocated on behalf of the members of our partner churches in the Pacific, whom this scheme will benefit. A range of issues were discussed and the Liberal party explained some of the issues that it is considering as it reaches and view. The consultation was, overall, very positive.”
The UCA representatives also sought clarification on the Liberal Party’s policy on climate change and were encouraged to hear that they accepted the science behind the climate change case and were not opposed to an emissions trading scheme. Rev Henderson and Rev Corkin plan to have further conversations with the Opposition leader concerning this and other issues in the future.
“The Uniting Church is committed to these issues which affect Australians, our friends overseas and this world we must share,” said Rev Corkin “We’re committed to working with all parties to ensure that changes which benefit us all, happen.”
In October the President has been invited to Parliament House to meet with the Prime Minister where there will be opportunity to represent the UCA’s views on a number of issues.