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Andrew Nikolickspittle

When Tony Abbott faced a leadership spill in February, newly elected MP Andrew Nikolic seized an opportunity to ingratiate himself with his boss. In what can only be seen as a very bold and somewhat presumptuous move for a newbie, Nikolic very publicly wrote to his colleagues urging them to vote against the spill.

Lo and behold, in a classic example of shooting the messenger, Abbott sacked chief whip Phillip Ruddock and Nikolic was promoted to a whip position. Not bad considering he had only been in Parliament for 18 months. He has now taken up the position of chief head-nodder.

Nikolic is a man after Abbott’s own heart.

He is a retired Brigadier and a former public servant in the Department of Defence. In 2007 he wrote a paper for the U.S. Army War College Strategy Research Project titled “Iran and the United Sates: Interests, Options, Consequences” in which he said:

“US interests demand stronger containment of Iran, concurrent efforts to generate a more effective international response, and a willingness to preempt an Iranian nuclear weapons capability if necessary. In the event that credible evidence emerges of a maturing Iranian nuclear weapons capability, then the US must be willing to employ preemptive force to prevent Iran from acquiring the added protection of nuclear deterrence. In essence US national security interests demand a proactive rather than an avoidant strategy in dealing with Iran.”

Abbott has a firm backer for all things military

When running for election in Tasmania, Nikolic said his “economic priority is to revitalise existing industries like forestry and mining, while concurrently helping the North win its fair share of Defence projects.”

He also suggested linking the Australian Maritime College’s education programs into the multibillion-dollar oil and gas exploration projects off northern Australia,and restoring commercial shipping at Bell Bay.

“Revitalising our economy also requires an end to illegal protests and disproportionate Greens Party influence.”

Pro-logging and mining and anti-environmentalist – what more could you want.

Nikolic will even attack his own constituents if he feels they are being critical of the government.

When university lecturer Dr Michael Powell wrote a letter to the editor of the Launceston Examiner blasting funding cuts to the university and calling on Mr Nikolic to decide whether to “stand up for the university” or be “merely a mouthpiece” for the Abbott government, Nikolic hit back in a letter published by the Examiner but went a step further and emailed Powell’s boss, university vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen.

In 2012, as the Liberal candidate for the seat of Bass, he was accused of online bullying when he threatened to go to the employers of 13 people who “liked” a satirical story about him posted on Facebook.

He wrote to all 13 people who clicked the “like” button after reading the story but did not go through with his threat to contact their employers.

Tasmanian Labor senator Helen Polley said “He is obsessed with anyone in our community that challenges his view and expresses a different view about this unfair budget that they brought down. He has been unrelenting in his personal attacks and putting pressure on people who dare to critique this budget.”

Silencing criticism – what a good little Liberal he is. But wait…there’s more.

Mr Nikolic is part of the committee that selects bills to be debated and made it clear the marriage equality bill would not be on the agenda any time soon.

“Anyone who thinks that this should be prioritised over economic or national security issues has rocks in their head and is totally misreading the needs of the Australian people,” he said.

“[The bill] is a poor attempt by someone to generate momentum on an issue where there is none”.

Perhaps Mr Nikolic should listen to his media researchers and the focus groups the Libs usually love so much. After all, his government is paying these people tens of millions to find out what we think.

In July 2014, one of Australia’s leading research companies, Crosby/Textor, released a survey of 1000 Australians regarding their views on marriage equality.

The survey showed support for marriage equality is at its highest level ever at 72%. and that 83% of Australians support a free vote on marriage equality. The survey also showed majority support in every demographic, including people of faith, people in regional and rural areas and older people.

Mark Textor said at the time:

“With Australians across all key demographics supporting marriage equality in record numbers, it’s fair to say the public has made up its mind, the community debate is over, and it’s time for politicians to act.

We will be using this landmark research to work with Government members who have yet to declare support for reform to show them they have nothing to fear.”

Another recently promoted Liberal, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells who is now parliamentary secretary with responsibility for community engagement on counter-terrorism, is repaying her boss by saying the move was an “ambush” and “played into the hands of the Government’s political opponents”.

“Any change of this magnitude requires appropriate consultation and not the sort of ambush approach some of my colleagues have chosen to take,” she said.

Is she suggesting that there has been no consultation or discussion within the Coalition ranks? I fail to see how this could be considered an ambush. I though their complaint was that Bill Shorten was playing politics but it appears it is the government who is doing just that.

Ms Fierravanti-Wells criticised her moderate colleagues for showing “bad judgment” by allowing independent MP Cathy McGowan to co-sponsor the bill.

“Why are we giving her a platform? We have just started a campaign to win her seat [of Indi] back,” she said.

Does this mean that Sophie Mirabella is going to run on a platform of discrimination? Good luck with that.

But perhaps the most bizarre comment on the marriage equality debate came from Eric Abetz who said we should be following Asia rather than America.

“The Labor Party … and journalists tell us time and time again that we are living in the Asian century. Tell me how many Asian countries have redefined marriage?”

As Barrie Cassidy pointed out, in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan and Bangladesh homosexuality itself is illegal.

Abbott is busy promoting lickspittles like Nikolic who obediently go very public in telling us what we think. It has come time to let them know what we think. The only way this will get anywhere is if MPs feel the heat.

You can find out where your elected representative stands on marriage equality here and it also gives contact details and an example letter that you may wish to send to your MP.

Let’s use the fear tactic back on them. The only thing that gets through is to threaten those in marginal seats with electoral punishment.

Make democracy work.

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9 comments

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  1. Kaye Lee

    I just crunched the Senate numbers from the marriage equality site.

    Of the 76 Senators, 37 are in favour of marriage equality, 32 opposed, and 7 undecided. Tasmania, home of Nikolic and Abetz, is the only state where the no vote is in the majority and that is only 7 against to 5 for.

    The last man to hang for sodomy in the British Empire was in Tasmania in 1867. In the subsequent hundred years Tasmania had the highest rate of imprisonment for private consenting male sex anywhere in the world. For several years in the 1980s, the Tasmanian Parliament refused to pass laws decriminalising private same-sex sexual acts, resulting in a local resident (Nicholas Toonen) bringing a human rights complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, resulting in the committee ruling in Toonen’s favour.

    In response to the Tasmanian Parliament’s refusal to repeal the offending laws, the Federal government passed the Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act 1994 – Section 4, legalising sexual activity between consenting adults throughout Australia and prohibiting the making of laws that arbitrarily interfere with the sexual conduct of adults in private. In 1997 in the case of Croome v Tasmania, Croome applied to the High Court of Australia for a ruling as to whether the Tasmanian laws were inconsistent with the Federal Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act. The Tasmanian Government repealed the relevant Criminal Code provisions after failing in its attempts to have the matter struck out. As a result, it was in May 1997 that Tasmania repealed its anti-homosexuality laws

  2. Michael Taylor

    Sorry Keeri but I had to remove your comment as it could be classified as defamatory. I know that this article has been sent to Andrew N so we need to be careful what we say. Whilst there is nothing defamatory in the article, we would need to be careful of what we say in the comments.

  3. Lee

    What disproportionate Greens Party influence? They get roughly the same number of votes as the Nationals and only a fraction of the seats. How is protesting illegal? Is it only legal if the Liberal Party does it?

    As for Abetz’s ridiculous comment on redefining marriage, which Asian nations have destroyed their manufacturing industries? Our government hasn’t been interested in following Asia by building up manufacturing. When we have marriage equality, are any of these clowns going to wake up the next morning and find themselves suddenly divorced? A gay marriage has no negative impact upon anyone or anything else, other than the two people involved, quite unlike many of the actions of the government.

  4. Kaye Lee

    If Mr Nikolic does read this, I would like to ask a few questions.

    In an appearance on Q&A in 2009, Mr Abbott said “I think it would be very wrong for a politician in a sector with democracy like this to advance a position that could not be justified other than by appeal to religion. It would be very wrong, and frankly I don’t believe there is any, where a serious Catholic politician in Australia who has ever done that.”

    Your fellow Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie said she is opposed because marriage is a “sacred religious tradition”.

    Senator Joanna Lindgren said she opposed gay marriage because of her Catholic faith. “I don’t believe in abortion, I don’t believe in euthanasia, I don’t believe in same-sex marriages.” In a secular state, should Ms Lindgren be voting according to her religious views or according to the wishes of her constituents?

    I am wondering on what grounds, other than religion, that the Coalition are opposing even debate on something that 72% of the population are in favour of.

    ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja said allowing same-sex marriage could deny the right of children to have both a mother and a father.

    “We have all sorts of families in this country and we welcome that, but the reality is the reason marriage has been given a special status is because of the unique nature of raising children.”

    But the Australian Institute of Family Studies has published on a government site

    “The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families (ACHESS) based at the University of Melbourne has collected data on 500 children aged 0-17 years from 315 LGBT parents. On measures of general health and family cohesion children aged 5 to 17 years with same-sex attracted parents had significantly better scores when compared to Australian children from all other backgrounds and family contexts. For all other health measures there were no statistically significant differences.

    The country in which children are raised appears to have a bearing on the likelihood of experiencing bullying or teasing, indicating that the prevailing socio-cultural climate of support for same-sex relationships has some bearing on child wellbeing.”

    Your contention that there are more important things to worry about I would agree with. So why waste time opposing something for no logical reason when the vast majority of Australians want you to just get it done!

    Do we have to sue the government for discrimination like the Dutch had to sue their government for failing to take adequate action on climate change? If you want to protect us then you could help by eliminating homophobia and protecting the planet.

  5. stephentardrew

    Suck the but that feeds you no matter how vile the stench.

  6. brickbob

    ‘Just leaving the emotional part of the equation aside for a minute,what about the financial benefits to the Australian economy? i thought these clowns believed in capitalism and the free market economy and their favourite mantra”””Jobs;;; well here are jobs and opportunities marriage same sex or not provide. Hall hire,Hire cars,Musicians,Flower sellers,Jewelers,Suit hire,Wedding dress makers,Marriage celebrants,The liquor industry,Tourist industry,Bus hire companies,Printers,Cruise ship companies,Motels and Hotels, The food industry,Photographers,Wedding planners,and god knows how many others.
    This country is missing out on billions in revenue because a few bat shit crazed morons from the middle ages pushing their warped ideology down our throats.

  7. Kaye Lee

    For me it’s not emotional. I don’t attach any great significance to ceremony. Some people choose to marry, others choose not to, some marry to appease family members – the point is we have the choice. You cannot exclude a significant sector of the community from that choice – it is discriminatory. The overwhelming implication is that a gay union is somehow unworthy, a lesser act. The only reason you could think that is if you feel that marriage is for the purpose of procreation only and that children must be brought up by their two biological parents. This thinking is archaic. The excuse that it has been happening for thousands of years so it must never change just doesn’t wash. Social evolution is a necessary part of our growth or we would still be eating each other or saying mass in Latin.

    This government purports to not want to interfere in people’s lives yet feel they have a right to make this decision for us – the ultimate example of the nanny state.

  8. kerri

    Fair eenouggh Michael.

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