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Day to Day Politics: Abbott makes his intentions known.

Thursday 10 August 2017

1 In a doorstop interview on a cold and winter day in Canberra the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott made his intentions known as to how he will campaign for the ‘NO’ vote.

He intends linking it to free speech.

He intends linking it to political correctness.

He intends linking it to freedom of religion.

It wasn’t my intention to continue with this subject today but I recalled when working on the Republic campaign in 1999 just how dangerous Tony Abbott was. John Howard played good cop and Abbott and Nick Minchin played bad cops.

They did so by scare-mongering, lying and fabricating impossible situations like riots with alsatians in the streets.

His intention is clear. He will if he can turn the plebiscite into a public brawl on these unrelated issues. He will try to drag Turnbull into an ideological demarcation dispute – separating the right and left of his party.

In meat in the middle of Abbott’s sandwich will be lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people whose emotional wellbeing he gives not a thought.

How on earth the three things he mentioned are related to a question about marriage equality are beyond me, but the devious Abbott – who couldn’t lie straight in bed – will find a way.

Even in the short space of time since the Government’s announcement, cracks or questions about the legitimacy a postal plebiscite are being raised.

A Is this the question that will be put? “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

B It has been estimated that the cost of the non-compulsory non-binding postal plebiscite will be in the range of $122 million. Will the public deliberately boycott it for this reason?

C It is unsure if Senate approval is required. The Government will rely on a partial precedent from the Whitlam days, when a telephone poll of about 60,000 tested opinion on a national anthem.

The postal ballot will be run under the auspices of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which will have Australian Electoral Commission officers seconded to it. The money will come from the Finance Minister’s Advance.

Given that the ABS made an initial stuff-up of the census … its reliability will be questioned. We shall just have to keep our fingers crossed.

D Will it survive a challenge to the High Court? Well that’s yet to be tested. The Government says it will, but there are many other qualified voices that say otherwise.

E The Essential Poll on Tuesday showed their survey as 43% in favor and 38% against a postal vote. Hardly convincing.

F The timetable is exceedingly swift. We assume the original plebiscite will be rejected this week.

The postal forms are to be sent out on September 12 and close 7 November, with the outcome announced on November 15.

If the ‘YES’ vote wins the Government has two weeks to get a bill through Parliament.

In the event of a ‘YES’ vote, there would be two parliamentary weeks left to get a bill through before Christmas. The long period of time would favour the ‘NO’ vote.

G It would be a campaign without precedence. Extraordinary, even. There is no public money for either side to conduct any sort of public relations campaign. The power and cash of the churches would overwhelm that of the gay community.

The Prime Minister who supports the ‘YES’ vote and who is against the postal plebiscite will not campaign. He has other things to do.

When he was advocating for a republic he said postal plebiscites were a dreadful concept that “flies in the face of Australian democratic values”, and which would be “likely to ensure that not only will a minority of Australians vote, but also that large sections of the community will be disenfranchised.”

Penny Wong said this in the Senate yesterday:

“But I tell you, have a read of some of the things which are said about us and our families and then come back here and tell us this is a unifying moment. The Australian Christian lobby described our children as the stolen generation. We love our children. And I object, as do every person who cares about children, and as do all those couples in this country, same-sex couples who have kids, to be told our children are a stolen generation. You talk about unifying moments? It is not a unifying moment. It is exposing our children to that kind of hatred.

I wouldn’t mind so much if you were prepared to speak out on it. If the Prime Minister was prepared to stand up and say “that is wrong”. Maybe he can stand up for some people who don’t have a voice. Because we know the sort of debate that is already there. Let me say, for many children in same-sex couple families and for many young LGBTI kids, this ain’t a respectful debate already.”

It is doubtful if other politicians will participate. Well the homophobes will, and will the Christian nut cases.

The Marriage Equality Lobby are yet to announce where they stand on a postal vote. Alex Greenwich, co-chair of said on Tuesday the group was “not ruling anything in or out”.

Attitudes vary from within the lobby from those who feel it’s best to seize even a bad opportunity to hardliners inclined to boycott.

H And the ALP finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place. It has been against the plebiscite process from the beginning. Should it continue down that path and cop the flack for a negative outcome?

They may follow whatever the Marriage Equality Lobby decides. If the vote does a Brexit, Labor will step in and proclaim that a vote for them will see Marriage Equality happen.

When the Prime Minister was asked at his press conference, he said:

“Isn’t a postal plebiscite just a way to have the parliament follow? Why aren’t you leading?” Turnbull replied: “Strong leaders carry out their promises. Weak leaders break them. I’m a strong leader.”

A silence descended over the assembled media.

I suspect one of three things might happen: 1) the public will see it as a sham, a farce and boycott it as a huge protest against the government, 2) they will see it as a genuine opportunity to say yes and get it out of their system, and 3) the vote will be very low and the ‘NO’ vote wins an inconclusive plebiscite and we are back to where we started. Whatever happens, once it’s all done and dusted, the parliament still has to vote on marriage equality, and government politicians are not bound to vote in line with the postal ballot result.

The greatest exercise in illogical thought ever thrust upon the Australian people. But then it was Dutton’s idea.

2 Isn’t it amazing how conservative politicians go to ground when something controversial happens. It is often the case with Peter Dutton.

This time a refugee by the name of Hamed Shamshiripour, a 31-year-old Iranian who had a history of mental illness, was found dead on Monday near the Refugee Transit Centre in East Lorengau.

He now makes five who have died under Australian supervision on Manus Island.

One can only imagine just what this poor individual, who had repeatedly asked for help, was going through. As usual, Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection confirmed it was aware of the death and that Papua New Guinea authorities were investigating the matter. It then suggested, “Further questions should be directed to the government of PNG,”

What callous bastards they are getting away with murder the way they do.

My thought for the day.

“In the cycle of life people we care most about are taken from us too soon. We struggle to come to terms with the why of it and there is no answer. It is only by the way we conduct our living that we salute the legacy they leave behind.”

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  1. Peter F

    Now we have ‘the plebiscite when you don’t have a plebiscite’. My dictionary defines plebiscite as:

    “the direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question such as a change in the constitution: the administration will hold a plebiscite for the approval of constitutional reforms.”

    After claiming the ‘high moral ground’ by ‘sticking to their commitment’ ( only ONE), they are now not giving us a plebiscite.

    They should just do what they are paid to do, and get on with it.

  2. Terry2

    As former High Court Justice Michael Kirby noted this morning, the Parliament of Australia is where laws are made in this country and the parliament of Australia, in a vote yesterday, repudiated the concept of a plebiscite on marriage equality, for the second time.

    What has now happened is that a small but influential right-wing rump in the coalition have said that they are going to override the authority of the parliament of Australia and still have their plebiscite but use a devious process to get the money – $122million – to run a postal opinion poll in a way that bypasses the authority of the parliament.

    Whether we like it or not, we have a system of government that requires laws to be voted, reviewed and passed by two Houses and unless both Houses approve, and the proposed law receives the assent of the Governor General, the matter cannot be considered to be the law of Australia : the Abbott led right-wing who appear to have the ultimate power in the coalition have chosen to thumb their noses at our democratic arrangements to achieve their own ends.

    This goes well beyond plebiscites and marriage equality, this is a blatant attempt to undermine the authority of the parliament.

  3. Kronomex

    Tony Abbott is the Mark Latham of the LNP. Still sulking and throwing tantrums after being shafted. If the postal poll (this is not a plebiscite by any reasonable standard) is in favour of SSM we won’t see it made law this year. Something will magically crop up and Malcolm will have to postpone it for the foreseeable future. All the while Tones will be continuing to white ant and undermine.

  4. Jaquix

    This is right up Abbott & Sheltons alley. They just love to scrap! Im hoping the High Court can find grounds to throw it out and we dont have to go through all this expensive, nasty nonsense. Another Turnbull FAIL.

  5. Matters Not

    Time to strike. In all senses. Don’t participate. Refuse to be demeaned.


    Turnbull et al have everything to lose. And they know it.

  6. Peter F

    How will they decide WHO is to have the right to vote.Apparently anyone between 16 and 18 can marry if their proposed partner is more than 18. Will these 16-18 year olds get to vote? Has this been considered? Is this information held by the ABS, by the electoral office, or both? Which takes precedence?

    So many questions, so little time.

    This now proves to me that ‘good government’ will never exist under these idiots.

  7. silkworm

    Tony wants Malcolm out by September, and he is using the plebiscite to do it. It is a matter of vanity and vengeance. He doesn’t want Malcolm to have had the job of PM any longer than two years, which is as long as Tony had it.

    If the churches join in the hate campaign, this could severely backfire on them and bring the wrath of the militant atheist community on them. There could even be massive property destruction.

  8. Harquebus

    Some are saying that Australians can not handle this debate and that it will cause division. If true, this is not good. That we can not handle a debate. As for being divided well, also not good. Appears to me to be damage already done.
    One good thing is, we are not killing each other over it and not likely to. In other places, they would.

  9. Rhonda

    The whole thing is a total rubbish of shit!

  10. win jeavons

    ” a silence descended over the assembled media” ; I would have laughed loud and long at this preposterous self assessment . It was a sad echo of Trump , the DT’s man. The assembled media are tame chickens ( Joh called them chooks).

  11. Rhonda

    Umm, Harquebus, we don’t need to kill each other over this – the systematically negated individuals within our society (?) are more inclined to kill themselves! This is NOT a good thing 🙁

  12. wam

    The rabbott is, as you say, Lord, a nasty religious zealot. Whenever he speaks billy should say this man has doubled the debt tripled the deficit and can still find $120m on a non-binding plebiscite. He is a liar and cannot be trusted.
    ‘Are taken’? The suicide is horrific.

    Loved lamming slamming any boycott with the words they…’don’t know how democracy works. Funny but some twits voted him in that is democracy, this postal vote has no affect on lamming’s decision on the issue (so is it a vote?) is merely a waste of $120m, the cause of much angst and an abrogation of his political responsibilities.

  13. blair

    ” I am a strong leader” Couu(Bullshit)gghh


    the duty of politicians is to make laws in parliament. failing to do so is a breach of those duties. when that breach costs the nation $122 mil in times of purported debt that is misfeseance in public office.

  15. Keitha Granville

    the question should “do you believe in equality ? ”
    nothing more

  16. kerri

    And just wait for all those right wing homophobic pollies to offer the service of posting your vote for you?

  17. Worldcitizen2017

    Maybe someone should point out to Malcolm that leaders actually LEAD.
    They don’t bend over for every nut job in their team.
    If you want to see what leading looks like Malcolm look at Bill Shorten.

  18. jimhaz

    Lets run our own “postal vote” relating to funding of religious schools. Dummy it up to be similarish in format to the Same Sex marriage one and try and make it into a viral email thingie.


    The survey by Opinium shows that 58% of voters now believe faith schools, which can give priority to applications from pupils of their faith and are free to teach only about their own religion, should not be funded by the state or should be abolished.

  19. Aortic

    Abbott, Abetz Andrews the three stooges for the wonderful conservative Catholicism that pervades the thinking of our so called ” listening to the people” Coalition. Tony must have had a Saul to Damascus road episode when he said if you take a policy to the people you must see it through. It is the complete antithesis of his words and actions previously. They should include a questionnaire on whether it should be compulsory to attend mass a requisite number of times sufficient to repent our obviously multifarious sins. The more I listen and watch the more I am completely gobsmacked. Why not save billions, do away with all of them and like Switzerland have a referendum on the really important issues not peripheral matters generated purely to promote rightist conservatism and preserve a vacillating weak PM. I think I will have that drink now.

  20. Zathras

    Forget the plebiscite and the postal poll. Let’s just have a General Election and be done with it.

    At worst we will get a Government that is prepared to do something other than gaze at itself and blame everyone else for its own shortcomings.

    We’re not even standing still anymore – we’re sliding backwards.

  21. silkworm

    And now, in the interests of balance, let’s hear from the raving lunatic nutbag Christian right.

  22. David West

    The awfui facts of the matter are that we are being dudded by this government. Not only are we the majority treated poorly for the benefit of big business in particular. But also now the further into the term of government they go, their archilles heal is exposed. The rabid dog-like , bully boy , Abbott and his nasty cronies poor attitude to human rights, the halt and the lame, the common herd, disgust me.

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