Friday 11 August 2017
1 Former High Court Judge, and International Jurist, Justice Kirby has labeled the non-binding, non-compulsory postal plebiscite a sham and will not be participating. When a plebiscite was first suggested he said the decision sets a ‘dangerous precedent‘.
The plebiscite infers that in the future, questions that concern the liberties of minorities should be settled according to the majority view, instead of the reasoned debate of elected representatives who are directly accountable to individuals in their electorates.
The consequences are potentially awful. If it’s right to hold a plebiscite on gay marriage, why not hold plebiscites on other issues that upset people, like the niqab, circumcision, abortion or the right to die? The majority won’t always prove sympathetic, nor will it always get Parliament out of a tight spot. What will Parliament do, for example, if the plebiscite fails? The issue won’t go away, but the politics will become constitutionally horrible.
Imagine if the Parliament of 1902 had chosen to decide on female suffrage via a plebiscite, and that had failed.
Parliament would have been hamstrung for years. By abdicating responsibility, Parliament is ducking its historic duty to protect and further our liberties.
Too late, members may realise that by ceding power on this issue, they will have dealt Parliament its biggest blow since federation.
Consider this: The astute logical and prodigious mind of Kirby reminds us that we didn’t hold plebiscites when legislating on equality issues for Aborigines, women, the disabled and the dismantling of the White Australia policy. Instead, ”the Parliament simply did what it was paid to do and voted.” Kirby continued:
To this list should be added Mr Howard’s 2004 amendment to the Marriage Act, specifically banning same-sex marriage. We were not offered a plebiscite for this change – why then is a plebiscite now being foisted on us to un-ban it? I think we know why – it is called ”passing the buck”- all 120 million of them.
2 Former Prime Minister John Howard, yes the one that didn’t require a plebiscite when he wanted to change the marriage act, has decided to join Tony Abbott on the NO vote side. No doubt they will destroy the niceties of pleasant discourse.
Both belong in a world that no longer exists. In a past long forgotten. For them this is not only about equality but the defense of class and privilege. It’s a world where people should know their place.
3 Are you aware that because the plebiscite is being conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and not the Commonwealth Electoral Commission, that the normal rules, or safeguards that apply to the Commonwealth Electoral Act, will not apply? Yes, that’s right. It means that both sides of the marriage equality debate will be free to distribute misleading and deceptive material ahead of the same-sex marriage postal vote, because the usual campaign rules have been discarded. It will be open slather for insults.
Honestly, they really haven’t thought this through and the High Court should knock it on the head at its first opportunity.
Senator Cormann said that “the usual laws apply” regarding fraud and mail theft, but acknowledged there would be no legal protections for LGBTI people who fear they will be the victims of a vicious two-month hate campaign.
As Penny Wong said in the Senate:
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. It is not a unifying moment. It is exposing our children to that kind of hatred.
“Religion in many ways is akin to Politics in so much as it believes that telling the truth isn’t necessarily in its best interests.”
“Why is it that religion assumes it has some bizarre ownership on people’s morality. To assume that an atheist is any less moral than someone religious is an absurdity.”
4 The problem with all this irrational thinking is that there is no leadership. Turnbull may be a brilliant man but he seems unwilling to confront, on any issue, those who are of extremist views within his party.
Thomas Jefferson often referred to the term good government. In his opinion, the Government ought to be judged by how well it meets its legitimate objectives. For him, good government was the one who most effectively secures the rights of the people and the rewards of their labour, which promotes their happiness, and does their will.
For instance, he said: “The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the only legitimate object of good government.”
I have not written on the same subject for three consecutive days before but this issue has now turned into not just a vote about Marriage Equality but also the way we do democracy. As Justice Kirby said; “the decision sets ‘dangerous precedent’ “.
My thought for the day
“I have come to the conclusion that one of the truly bad effects religion (any religion) has on people is that it teaches that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.”