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.”
“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.”