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Day to Day Politics: The polls tighten … but not enough

Wednesday 20 September

1 This week’s Guardian Essential Poll tightened up a little with Labor leading the Coalition 52/48. However, if that was consistent across the country then it would still be a big win for Labor.

Public support for marriage equality has dropped 4% in a fortnight and opposition is up 3%, according to Essential.

The months leading up to Christmas are shaping up like the calm before the storm. Turnbull has to contend with the Marriage Equality survey, eligibility of some MPs to sit, and no Energy policy.

Seasoned veteran journalist Paul Bongiorno said yesterday that some senior members of the parliamentary press gallery predicted that Malcolm Turnbull would win the next election.

Yes, this is in spite of the fact that the government has not won a Newspoll since the last election. The average of all the polls is close to an 8 per cent lead to Labor. “How is it possible?” I hear you say. Well, it’s based on the premise that Turnbull will still be leader at the election and that it will be held two years from now.

Three comments. One, I don’t see a reason to replace him. Anyone else would be more unpopular. Two, I don’t see another two years in them. After considering all the complications of state and federal elections it is my fervent belief that the next election will be held around this time next year. Thirdly, the die is cast, the people have judged and their minds are set in concrete.

If the ‘Yes’vote wins – although yesterday’s Essential survey shows a tightening in the votes – Turnbull will claim a victory over the conservatives and Abbott. If it’s a clear win, some will interpret it a victory over absurdity and others like me will see it a protest against mediocrity of governance.

Already the forces of the far right are muddying the waters with half-truths, omissions and deliberately trying to make other issues the order or the day.

If the ‘No’ vote wins, it will be a stunning repudiation of Turnbull and the senior members of his government who are campaigning hard for marriage equality.

2 A sleeper for the Government to have some concerns about is the appointment of Nigel Hadgkiss as Commissioner of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) last year when it knew he had been accused of breaching workplace laws during his earlier tenure as head of the Fair Work Commission’s building and construction office.

Fancy a LNP Government appointing people accused of committing crimes.

3 Here is something from the front page of the Newcastle Herald under the headline
‘It’s NOT OK’. Please don’t think that because I’m posting the words of others that I’m neglecting my own. It’s just that now and then I come across words worth passing on.

“The LNP will never be able to reinvent themselves because they are capital “C” Conservatives. This means that they do not just have reservations about change in general, but that they are firm adherents to a particular ideological viewpoint. It is not fair to other people who belong to the first camp as it lumps them in with the ideologues who are incapable of change. They cannot change as they are in a state of denial about any need to change. I think it would be fair to say that they are the worst, most dangerous and damaging government ever to be inflicted on the Australian people. Having a group of such rusted on ideologues in charge is akin to having a religious state. Facts and science are routinely attacked if they conflict with dogma. For a truly secular state we should be outlawing such governments.”

“To read every article the Australian has published on Safe Schools is to induce nausea. This isn’t even a comment on the content, just the sheer volume … And yet, across this entire period, the Australian – self-appointed guardian of the safety of children – spoke to not a single school-aged LGBTIQ youth. Not even one. Later, queer teenagers who followed the Safe Schools saga told me the dynamic felt familiar. AT SCHOOL, ITS KNOWN AS BULLYING. IN JOURNALISM, ITS CALLED A BEAT-UP.” (Benjamin Law, Moral Panic 101).

4 On Facebook a friend (Hayden Timothy) posted the following:

“Stephen and I are a completely normal couple. We do normal couple things. We go grocery shopping together. We bicker about stupid things. We watch the news together. We even do that weird meowing thing that a lot of couples do apparently.

But because we’re both men, that means we’re ‘different’. Even though we pay the same taxes everyone else does. We catch the same public transport. We work the same jobs (sort of). It’s weird – we’re more heteronormative than most straight couples we know. I honestly don’t even think of ourselves as a ‘gay’ couple. Sure, we’re two guys, but whose business is that?!

But because we are both male, we’re not offered equal rights by law. No matter how ‘normally’ we live. Isn’t Australia meant to be an egalitarian society? Doesn’t that by definition mean we all deserve equal rights?

I cannot believe it has actually come to a postal survey. The very thing we’ve been fighting against for years now and has never on any level been a viable idea. But this stupid thing arrived in our mailbox today and suddenly Stephen and I found ourselves having to fill in a box about whether, in our humble opinion, we should be allowed to get married.

The second I saw this form I felt a rage I’ve never felt before. A public opinion poll on a decision that is completely private, and completely nobody else’s business but ours. I felt angry that every person in Australia is being asked whether Stephen and I should be able to marry. I felt angry that LGBTQI kids now have to deal with hate from our own government, on top of everything else. I felt angry that they decided to spend 122 MILLION DOLLARS on a little piece of paper that doesn’t even actually guarantee any change to our laws.

Posting my answer to this questionnaire was one of the most humiliating things I’ve ever had to do in my life. I’ve been so fortunate to grow up with a significant amount of privilege. But for anyone – SO many – people in the greater queer community who are more vulnerable and have no support network, this fiasco could be completely devastating. I am so ashamed of our country and our government for putting you through all of this. To anyone who feels like an ‘other’, please know that you are not alone. There is so much love and support out there, despite this government’s best efforts.

This is NOT a vote on same-sex parenting. This is NOT a vote on safe schools. This is NOT a vote on bestiality. This is NOT a vote on religious freedoms. This is simply an opinion poll on whether Stephen and I, and so many others like us, are able to have the choice to get married if we’d like to. We might; we might not. But the choice should be ours, and not anybody else’s. Not the catholic church’s. And certainly not Tony Abbott’s.

If you disagree and are voting no, I encourage you to come and find me and tell me IN PERSON that you do not think I deserve the same rights as you. This is personal, so tell me to my face.

Think of this vote as an early RSVP. Those who vote ‘no’ will not be welcome – to our wedding, or in our lives.”

5 Now, just a few words to finish this section. My 13-year-old grandson visits us on his way home from school. I generally pick him up if it’s raining. The conversation usually starts with something about school:

Me: “What happened today?”
Him: “Not much” The usual answer. Oh wait. “We had a free period so we had a discussion about Marriage Equality”
Me: “Really, how did that happen?”
Him: One of the girls started talking about it.”
Me: “Do you find the girls more mature.”
My wife: “They usually are.”
Me: “So what did they have to say about it.”
Him: “Most of us agreed that they should be allowed to marry. It was only a few boys who I think didn’t understood what marriage equality was about who voted against it. I should get you to talk to them poppa, he laughed.”

An observation

“Love is when there is an irresistible urge for the need of the affection of another and the irresistibility is of its nature mutual. It has no gender.”

6 Changing subjects … I have a great appreciation for the writing of Alan Kohler. Here are some words from last week:

“Actually climate change denial is demolishing Australian politics, and has been for 10 years.

The refusal of about half the nation’s politicians, and much of the media, to believe what scientists and business leaders say on this subject — while believing them on other subjects — has brought the normal functioning of politics and sensible policy grinding to a halt.

It’s going to be a long and difficult rebuild, but with the electrification of transport now happening, time is running out.”

“As Turnbull theatrically struts around throwing out childish taunts like ‘Blackout Bill’ and ‘No Coal Joel’, it should be remembered that … our energy crisis can be laid squarely at the feet of a divided Coalition whose own power struggles over the last decade have made it impossible for them to come up with any sort of enduring policy.”

7 On this day a year ago I wrote:

Peter Dutton was interviewed on Insiders on Sunday and gave his answers to questions on a “need to know” basis. Again he blamed Labor for everything to do with refugees, and avoids the point of the questions.

He was again asked about the future of innocent people who the Government has condemned to a life of incarceration without having committed a crime.

All he would say was “we are in discussions with other countries”. Which of course is the same answer he has been giving ever since he became Immigration Minister.

My thought for the day

“Wisdom is but a reflection on growing older.”



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  1. babyjewels10

    Only one thing to say. wtf is wrong with people? Labor should be romping home. I live in a country where half the population are alien.

  2. Pappinbarra Fox

    Should the country at large vote on the question: Should Baptists (most sects not all) and Seventh-day Adventist Church members be allowed to dance?

  3. Don Kelly

    Scientists have uncovered the strongest evidence yet in the debate of whether people are ‘born gay’.
    The largest ever study into the existence of a so-called ‘gay gene’, conducted by NorthShore Research Institute, identified two genetic regions which correlated to homosexuality in men.
    Lead scientist Alan Sanders said that the work “erodes the notion that sexual orientation is a choice”.
    He stressed that a variety of factors – including genetics, upbringing and environment play a part in developing sexual orientation, which is complex and emerges over time.
    Though some remain sceptical, neuroscientist Simon LeVay told the New Scientist: “His study knocks another nail into the coffin of the ‘chosen lifestyle’ theory of homosexuality.”
    “Yes, we have a choice in life, to be ourselves or to conform to someone else’s idea of normality, but being straight, bisexual or gay, or none of these, is a central part of who we are, thanks in part to the DNA we were born with.”
    Richard Lane of Stonewall told the Independent: “While some people may choose to focus on the continuing debate of whether people are born gay or not, we’ll continue to focus on making sure everyone has the same rights and opportunities regardless of who they love.”

  4. Terry2

    our energy crisis can be laid squarely at the feet of a divided Coalition whose own power struggles over the last decade have made it impossible for them to come up with any sort of enduring policy

    Well put Alan Kohler ! But now we hear Tony Abbott telling Alan Jones that any move to a clean energy target or indeed any form of energy policy not dictated by Abbott’s deplorables would be unconscionable. He is again trying to wedge Turnbull into taking no action on formulating an enduring energy policy as he has done in the past and he will probably succeed again.

    This is all personal and Abbott cares nothing about energy security for Australia. In fact if by his negativity he is able to encourage power blackouts and increases in energy costs it will fit into his infantile strategy of destroying Turnbull [and blaming everything on Labor].

    In the short term the only blue sky I can see is the possibility of a snap-election driven by the dual citizenship fiasco and a change of government and we must hope that the electors of Warringah [and Dickson for that matter] to come to their senses.

  5. helvityni

    I watched Dateline program on obesity epidemic in Samoa…it’s worse there than in Oz.

    Then I saw a News item where Turnbull was asked if we ought to raise taxes on sugary soft drinks; his answer a firm NO, we are supposedly already paying enough taxes…

    Never mind that obesity causes diabetes, heart disease and other health problems: let them eat cake and die…

    As for being taxed enough, why are we not collecting enough revenue to take care of wellfare costs, pensions, unemployment etc.

  6. Zathras

    “Gay gene?” Whatever is it is irrelevant when it isn’t a matter of choice.

    What does it say about us where homosexual activity exists is virtually all animal species but homophobia exists in only one.

    Perhaps there is also a “homophobia” gene or an “intolerance” one?

  7. Jagger

    PM Malcolm ” mirrabella” Turdball has promised Qld. a new coal fired power station in the Nth, it will be paid for by NAÏF but will only happen if the LNP are elected. Anyone for a bit of bribery, Turdball using the only tactic he knows.

  8. king1394

    Now that the precedent has been established with the current ‘survey’, I wonder how long it will be before the Federal Government decides some other question is too difficult for them to decide as our representatives? It may not be clear yet, but I think we could be on the way to having citizens called upon for their thoughts on many marginal questions. I’m sure the Government will continue to reserve to itself questions for which it has a preferential answer (like what can be privatised next?)

  9. wam

    ” I should get you to talk to them poppa, he laughed.” The NOs would jump on that as the boy has been indoctrinated.

    “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” – Robert Frost

    The church has no interest in love as being a requirement in marriage.
    It believes marriage is a breeding safety net for women and children. Should that be breached other tenets, like no women, may be questioned.and the church structure could collapse.

    Of course the church has a perfect system of self protection.

    To believers there is no personal opinion that may be changed by facts or experience only beliefs that cannot be challenged. Fortunately there are catholics who tinker at the edge of church opinions.

    ps love your number six reference every time I see it. Wouldn’t it be good to move on from the rabbott’s triumph in dec 2009

  10. Kevin Michael

    RE Climate change, I feel that politicians do believe it is happening, but must serve the interests of their rent seeking backers.

    Another issue facing Australia, any military action on the Korean Peninsula will cause a massive refugee issue in our region.

  11. Harry

    If you hate Australia vote Coalition

  12. stephentardrew

    Great as usual John.

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