Much has been said about the divisive nature of a plebiscite to decide the question of same-sex marriage. Much has been said about the simplicity of a parliamentary vote.
Politics is a cruel animal when it comes to delivering on divisive issues. It reduces otherwise intelligent people to the level of school children misbehaving in the playground. Nothing demonstrates this better than the marriage equality issue.
Marriage equality is a human rights issue that impacts on a minority of people. To the rest it is a non-issue, something viewed with mild ambivalence. And those who are not gay (roughly 90% of us), should not be asked to adjudicate on it.
While there are contradictory views across the nation, why should those who are not gay, be asked to decide on a question about which they have no personal stake?
Greens leader Richard di Natale has fired the first salvo announcing that the Greens will not support a plebiscite. His reasons are clear. While the cost factor is irrelevant, the divisive nature will not be in the nation’s best interests.
Nick Xenophon has done the same. Good on both of them. Labor’s Bill Shorten is likely to follow suite and also reject the proposal. There are a several good reasons why they should not support a plebiscite. I cannot think of one good reason why they should.
The consensus is that their decisions will further delay any positive action. But they shouldn’t. These decisions should make a parliamentary vote more likely and introduced more speedily. This is where the contrived complexities created by those who are in favour of a plebiscite make a mockery of our parliamentary system.
A plebiscite was never a good idea and one suspects it was no more than a delaying tactic by Tony Abbott whose views on the matter are well known. Malcolm Turnbull, on the other hand, supports marriage equality.
His public support for a plebiscite does not sound convincing and one suspects he is hamstrung between his personal view and a bullying conservative right wing of the party who seem to have him in trapped in a cage.
With senate numbers very much in favour of marriage equality and a mere one seat majority for the Coalition in the lower house, one would think the odds are very much in favour of a successful vote there too.
Why doesn’t Turnbull simply call their bluff? What can they do? Replacing him would be electoral suicide. Does he not realise the strength of his own position?
During the election campaign, Bill Shorten promised to introduce a marriage equality bill within the first 100 days if elected. He didn’t win, but why should that stop him from introducing a private member’s bill, or simply call for a vote on the one that was introduced last year that sits there gathering dust?
The likelihood of one or two Coalition members crossing the floor cannot be discounted. A bill to change the wording of the marriage act could well pass in the lower house.
John Howard caused this furore by legislating to change the wording of the act without recourse to the people. He did not ask us to approve it. We don’t need to be asked to reverse it.
On Lateline, George Brandis accused Bill Shorten of politicising the issue. Did George not notice that it was already a political issue, one started by his former leader, Tony Abbott?
We elect our government to lead. Instead, what we get is obfuscation, deferment, delay, indecision, obstruction and bloody-minded recalcitrance. This is not leadership. This is childish school playground antics.
It is pathetic. It is weak. We deserve better. End this ridiculous charade and have the parliament vote on it. Now!