PRIME Minister Scott Morrison and the Coalition face the major challenge, after the federal election win, of helping three million Australians living in poverty, the St Vincent de Paul Society says.
The Coalition will form government after an upset election win on May 18.
Despite all major media polls unanimously favouring Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, the Coalition coasted into a majority government, defeating Labor 77 seats to 68.
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council president Claire Victory acknowledged the Federal Coalition’s election win, but also the challenges ahead.
“We look forward to working with (Mr Morrison’s) re-elected Government to build a fairer and more just nation,” Ms Victory said.
“The Government and the country face major challenges, with three million Australians living in poverty and hundreds of thousands of Australians struggling to find an affordable home.
“Our experience tells us that individuals and families who are out of work or under-employed are struggling to make ends meet.”
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the election result was a surprise to most, and it showed that the national psyche was harder to read than often thought.
“Clearly polls struggle to take its measure,” he said. “But the democratic process is comparatively risk-free in this country, given that neither of the major parties strays far from the centre.”
Archbishop Coleridge said the Church sought to work with all elements of the political spectrum while identifying with no particular party.
“We will work with the new Government not only to defend the interests of the Church but also to promote the common good for all Australians,” he said.
Issues on the agenda or raised during the election campaign include religious freedom, abortion, euthanasia and a wide diversification of social services.
Catholic Health Australia chief executive officer Suzanne Greenwood said the organisation looked forward to continuing to work with the Government for improved health outcomes for all Australians.
“The Coalition has implemented important reforms in key areas such as private health, access to medicines, Medicare and new models of aged-care delivery,” Ms Greenwood said.
“We look forward to continuing to work constructively with them to deliver their policies in the best interests of Australians, our members and the health budget.
“Catholic Health Australia will continue to advocate strongly and fairly on behalf of our members to secure Government support on issues that affect everyday Australians, such as affordable healthcare, access to aged care and improved end-of-life care.
“It is fitting that this is National Palliative Care Week (May 19-25), as Australians need strong leadership and action on improving end-of-life care as an urgent national priority, and CHA will continue to spotlight this issue to ensure palliative care remains on the agenda this term.”
Religious freedom was a significant sleeper issue for many Australian voters who were concerned a Shorten government would restrict their liberty to pursue faith and religion.
Christian Schools Australia national executive officer Mark Spencer told The Sydney Morning Herald parents in marginal seats had expressed concern over the protection of religious freedom.
“There are mums and dads across Australia who want to choose a school that reflects their values,” Mr Spencer said. “With religious freedom featuring in the campaign like never before, it is impossible to imagine that values were not front of mind for voters.”
Pro-life group Cherish Life Queensland said it was “overjoyed with the life-valuing outcome”.
“What Labor promised meant that if Bill Shorten won government, … taxpayer-funded public hospitals would have been forced to perform abortions on request – even late-term abortions of healthy babies of healthy mothers,” Cherish Life Queensland executive director Teeshan Johnson said.