Can the religious right keep Turnbull from the middle ground?
Can the religious right keep Turnbull from the middle ground?

Will the religious right find traction in election?

HUGE candidate fields in Fisher and Fairfax in the 2016 federal election have been bolstered by what are often dismissed as the religious right wing of conservative politics.

Fairfax has attracted a field of eight and Fisher nine with representation from the Australian Liberty Alliance, Rise Up Australia and Family First.

Candidates are looking to attract the huge 2013 Palmer United Party vote which delivered it 22,409 first preference votes in Fairfax (26.49%) and 13,559 in Fisher (17.42%).

RELATED: Meet the Candidates: Fairfax and Fisher

In Fairfax Family First has had to reach out to the Gold Coast for a candidate in Pastor David Rees while in Fisher its candidate Caroline Ashlin, is also connected to a Gold Coast church.

Family First and its candidates have proven difficult to contact.

Its candidates are however listed atop LNP how to vote cards after Ted O'Brien (Fairfax) and Andrew Wallace (Fisher).

RELATED: WIDE BAY: Meet your federal election candidates

If those two candidates have proven hard to find on the ground during the campaign, in Fisher Rise Up Australia's Tracey Bell-Henselin has been everywhere and particularly speaking with church congregations throughout the hinterland.

Tracey Bell-Henselin, Rise Up Australia candidate for Fisher.
Tracey Bell-Henselin, Rise Up Australia candidate for Fisher. Tessa Mapstone

Rise Up Australia's Queensland president Cristian Walker said the aim was to ultimately earn major party status.

More immediately it sees its role as stopping the Turnbull-led Coalition drifting to the left.

"If they go that way voters will take up the call,'' Mr Walker said.

"People are not happy. You can't trust them."

The party's mistrust for the Prime Minister may be a factor in it being placed last on LNP how to vote cards

Mr Walker said what he had seen of surveys indicated the economy remained the number one concern on voters' minds.

He said more emotional issues factored but there was frustration at the lack of will to introduce tax reform leaving wage earners and small business to carry the load.

Rise Up Australia wants a debit tax policy on transactions which he said big corporations would be unable to escape.

But it's the "emotional'' issues that are finding traction with the party firmly opposed to the Safe Schools program whose anti-bullying message is seen as a Trojan horse for more sinister objectives.

Mr Walker said conservative church groups were more aware of the organisation than the broader community perhaps unsurprisingly given its founder was Pentecostal minister Danny Nalliah.

Fisher candidates Caroline Ashlin (Family First) and John Spellman (Australian Liberty Alliance) are also both pastors.

Caroline Ashlin and John Spellman.
Caroline Ashlin and John Spellman. Contributed

Family First denies it is a Christian party but has its feet firmly imbedded in evangelical and Pentecostal Australian Christian Churches who may be more commonly known as the Assemblies of God.

Australian Liberty Alliance describes itself as a secular movement with values based on Judaeo-Christian heritage.

It's appeal is driven by anti-Muslim sentiment and a call for a 10-year moratorium on Muslim immigration.

The party is standing John Spellman in Fisher.

Will you vote for a party who priorities religious values?

This poll ended on 07 July 2016.

Current Results

Yes. I feel they best reflect my values.


No. I think religion and government should be kept separate.


I will vote for whoever I think will help provide the best government, regardless of religious values.


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

University of the Sunshine Coast lecturer in politics Bronwyn Stevens said minor parties stood to give their views an airing.

She doesn't expect them to perform strongly and predicts this region's evangelical communities would look to Family First as a harbour for their votes.

Ms Stevens says a small racist element would be pushed towards Rise Up Australia whose leader Paul Taylor has spoken at a Reclaim Australia rallies on the Sunshine Coast which drew anger anti-mosque crowds.

Ms Bell-Henselin is out to prove that prediction wrong. Her focus has been less on a perceived Islamic threat and more on families, the need to re-enforce core values, a belief in "traditional" marriage and bricks and mortar issues like internet black spots in the hinterland and why Bruce Highway upgrades had not been delivered.


FISHER (2013): Family First, Tony Moore - 2.05% a fall of 5.31%; Rise Up Australia, Rod Christesen - 0.39%

FAIRFAX (2013): Family First, Angela Meyer - 1.67% a fall of 3.57%; One Nation, Mike Holt - 0.84%

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