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The Expensive Affirmation: Australia Says “Yes” to Same-Sex Marriage

The overall figure was comfortable, though hardly dashing. Sixty-two per cent of Australians (7.82 million) decided that same-sex marriage was a perfectly feasible, even desirable notion, while 38 per cent (4.87 million) did not.

Out of 150 federal seats, 133 registered affirmative totals in returning their response to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”. All states featured majorities, while some so-called conservative states – Queensland and Western Australia, for instance – registered higher percentages than, for instance, New South Wales. Notable federal seats with large yes votes were Melbourne (84 percent); Sydney (84 per cent) and Brisbane (80 per cent).

The result for New South Wales was deemed an odd one by some commentators, given that Sydney is the place of the annual Mardi Gras, vulgarly cosmopolitan, brash and open. But this reductive simplicity belies the important fact that Sydney, and New South Wales, more generally, have diverse populations, many non-English speaking and reluctant to embrace the language of rainbow sexuality.

The pattern in Western Sydney was of deepest interest to Antony Green and the political science fraternity keen to peer through the electoral glass darkly. Twelve seats in Sydney, nine Labor and three Liberal, voted against marriage equality.

Blaxland, the seat of former Labor Prime Minister, Paul Keating, registered a thumping no vote of 74 per cent. Watson, the seat of Labor front bencher, Tony Burke, furnished the Australian Bureau of Statistics a figure of 70 per cent. These results again showed how postal plebiscites that require scrutiny of what would otherwise be private matters tend to ruffle, even damage. The bag of prejudice is always a deep one.

It also followed that such strong no votes in specific seats would face some tip-toeing candidates keen to avoid those culturally sensitive voters. Particular interest will be paid to the seat of Bennelong, whose previous sitting member, John Alexander, had to resign for being a dual national.

Same-sex marriage, noted Green, does not fit into the class structure of Australian political thinking. Even today, however odd that note rings in discussions, electoral assessments tend to fall to demographic variables, and brute figures of income and living, rather than abstract values. Cultural values, in other words, tend to be nudged into the background, if, indeed, they actually figure at all.

It is precisely these cultural values that are going to play out in Parliament. This ceremonially farcical show, costly and non-binding, was meant to give conservatives enough ammunition to avoid a same-sex marriage vote while giving the false impression that this was plausibly democratic. (Should prejudice ever be democratised?)  The same tactic had been deployed in sinking the Republican debate in the 1990s by Prime Minister John Howard.

Having confronted the spectre of a significant yes vote, the strategy now is to water the pre-existing Dean Smith bill, embraced across parties, in favour of more discriminatory provisions under the guise of human rights. The discussion, claimed Senator Matt Canavan, had to continue, parliamentarians not being automatons in the service of the elector.

Unfortunately for Canavan, it was precisely the fact that parliamentarians had abdicated their legislative role in this matter that perpetuated this exercise. Conservative members of parliament are already insisting that parents have rights to shift children from schools that insist on a radical sex education agenda. Specific dispensations for prejudice will be sought.

Members of the same-sex marriage community have also jumped the gun in some instances, presuming that the passage of legislation will be automatic, a smooth matter without hiccups. Proposals were made on the lawn of the Victorian State Library in Melbourne. Corks were popped, champagne guzzled.

The celebrity circuit, ever keen to lend loud voices to causes, was triggered in communal enthusiasm. “It’s a g’day,” tweeted US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. “Way to go Australia.” Singer Sam Smith jumped on Twitter with a sequence of crying face and rainbow emojis.

Much of the delight and ebullience centred on this vote being one of love. Such formulations on human institutions are rarely accurate. Marriage and love were only coupled as a fairly modern, middle-class phenomenon, and a general postal vote favouring same-sex marriage is probably more accurately termed one of fairness than emotional indulgence.

Few other communities in a social sense have been singled out as singular, marginal, and peculiar relative to rights and liberties. Such private realms should rarely be the preserve of the state. But the state will now determine whether the Marriage Act will be altered. Now, the tune may well change, but it is bound to be jarring at points. The judgments are far from over.  


47 comments

  1. Robert REYNOLDS

    Binoy, I am rather interested in your remark that,

    “Blaxland, the seat of former Labor Prime Minister, Paul Keating, registered a thumping no vote of 74 per cent. Watson, the seat of Labor front bencher, Tony Burke, furnished the Australian Bureau of Statistics a figure of 70 per cent. These results again showed how postal plebiscites that require scrutiny of what would otherwise be private matters tend to ruffle, even damage. The bag of prejudice is always a deep one.”

    The last two sentences are rather cryptic and need further explanation to ensure that no confusion exists over what it is exactly that you mean.

    It is interesting that the seats of Blaxland and Watson respectively, have the largest Muslim populations of any Federal electorates in the country, around 22.7% and 20.3%, see

    https://muslimvillage.com/2013/09/06/43492/australian-muslim-voter-guide-federal-election-2013/

    I was originally opposed to the holding of this extravagant ‘survey’ but Binoy, as they say, ‘every cloud has its silver lining’. These results show how the Muslim population of this country can and does influence political decisions in a very regressive way. Image if we had a ‘survey’ on Sharia Law. We would all then, I am sure, be very thankful that these people only constitute around 2.6% of the total population. I would add finally that I am sure there are many parts of the Christian Church who are just as backward in their thinking but then again Binoy, they do not post videos on the internet of themselves throwing homosexuals off the top of high buildings, do they?

  2. Keith

    I’m still very puzzled about what the so called religious rights that are impacted by the Yes vote are.
    Parents have the right to withdraw their children from classes they disapprove of where I live.

    Some of the allegations being made by the No case about what might happen in schools were farcical.
    The No case created some doubts, some of the points made against ssm were quite offensive being attacks on the Professionalism of teachers.

    Anyway, a fabulous result.

  3. babyjewels10

    I used to live in Sydney, and loved it. What has happened to Sydney and NSW? The lowest Yes vote in the country. Years of corrupt Liberal government, environmental activists stifled, rigid rules about protests, the rule of coal has trashed much of the best agricultural land and so much more. In contrast, we have Melbourne, progressive and vibrant.

  4. Wonka

    Gee RR take a Bex and chill. Your tawdry, infantile racist rant is so underwhelming. Seek help for your muddled fixation and generalization mucking.

    Maybe read up on Fallujah for a little perspective. You seem to have the ‘mad dog’ sort of crazy infestation warp.

  5. Robert REYNOLDS

    Oh dear, Mr or Ms Wanka, when I read your first sentence I initially felt that you were looking out for my good health. However, after reading the rest of your post, well, somehow I am not so sure anymore.

    You make accusations of me having a ‘muddled fixation and generalization mucking’ but offer little (well let’s be honest – nothing actually) in support of you claims.

    I am not sure how Fallujah fits in with the results of the same-sex marriage ‘survey’ but I am sure that in your mind there must be some connection. Perhaps Fallujah is where the videos of homosexuals being thrown off buildings was filmed.

    As for the last sentence of your wild and erratic rant, let me explain to you that when someone suggests to me that,

    “You seem to have the ‘mad dog’ sort of crazy infestation warp.”

    it really does not do much to cause me to change my mind. I feel that you will probably have considerable trouble getting your head around that but that is the way it is. If you want me to change my mind then start to present me with hard evidence rather than vitriolic abuse.

  6. Michael Taylor

    Robert, just as Malcolm Turnbull has used the Yes victory as an excuse to blame Labor, you too have wrongly used it as an excuse to blame Muslims.

    In my opinion, it’s hardly appropriate.

  7. Robert REYNOLDS

    Thank you for your courteous reply Michael. I am delighted to respond in kind.

    Mike, I am only looking at the demographic of some of those electorates where there was a significant ‘NO’ vote and it is hard not to come to the conclusion that religious dogma has not played some part in influencing those who voted no. We only have to look at the Catholic influence in the Federal Parliament to see how religion has played a role there. It is well known that both Muslims and Catholics disapprove of, inter alia, homosexuality. I do not deny that there would be some Muslims and some Catholics who would have voted ‘YES’, however, I think that these heterodox individuals would be at odds with the mainstream thinking in their churches and mosques.

    Obviously we have different views on this Mike but I am not going to launch into a vitriolic tirade against you for that. In fact, I am happy for you to keep the lines of communication open. I have no problem with robust, open and honest discussion or debate, if you like, I am not keen on abuse as some others seem to be.

  8. MikeW

    OK, now that the alphabet people have won the right to marry is there any chance our pathetic government can try and start doing the right thing for all Australians, or are we going to keep hearing about this until the next election? Looking at which electorate voted which way, who cares.
    What about increasing poverty and homelessness?
    Doubling the debt and deficit.
    What’s happening to refugees stuck in their hell holes?
    Wages going backwards.
    Cost of living increasing.
    Power prices going through the roof.
    Cuts to all and sundry.
    Politicians voting on decisions that are ineligible to be in Parliament.

    Good luck to all the ssm people who can now get married, now lets get back to fixing the country. One way this could be done is the GG calling a DD, suspend all politicians payments and entitlements until they can prove they are eligible to stand for office, when this is confirmed have an election.
    We can manage quite well without a government for however long it takes, Belgium managed without a government for 18 months as the public service run the country, I’m sure we could do the same.

  9. Kronomex

    Brandis, Cormann, with particular emphasis on the Mad Monk, and other assorted MP’s who place their religion above everything else make me want to vomit. There is no way Trembles “It’ll be done by Christmas.” is going to happen because RWNJ’s who helped put him in power, snort, snigger, will try every dirty delaying tactic they can think to squash it. Trembles will take waffling and weaselling to unheard of levels probably starting tomorrow.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/nov/15/religious-protection-fight-looms-over-same-sex-marriage-bill

    MikeW, the Governor General isn’t going to do anything, he’s there purely to protect his LNP mates. Oh yes, and to collect a whopping great pay packet and other lucrative bonuses.

    It’s going to be interesting to see what the catholic church and evangelicals come up with over the coming weeks try and bury the SSM debate (no doubt in unconsecrated ground if they had their way). Separation of state and church? What a effing joke!

  10. Zeke

    MikeW, same sex people still don’t have the right to marry. After the very expensive survey we are now back at square one, trying to get the parliament to vote to make sure all our citizens have equal rights, to marry. You do realise that if it weren’t for the right wing bigots in the Coalition, this issue could have been voted on and passed in 10 minutes of the parliament;’s time. Gay people didn’t want this expensive survey and it has been very harmful to some of them. The people you should be blaming for wasting parliament’s time and our money are those in Tony Abbott’s camp.

  11. MikeW

    Unfortunately you are right Zeke, this is presently before the senate where the bill has to be drawn up, amended and lord knows what else before it’s voted on in the lower house, where there could be more amendments. This could drag on forever. What a waste of $122million of taxpayers money.
    Meanwhile I read elsewhere that poverty in Australia has risen over the last few years from 2.5 million to 3 million people. Surely this must be the worst government in Australia’s history.

  12. Jack

    What the federal seat SSM results expose is that sitting members and potential incumbent candidates can now look at these results and adjust their campaign around them. Knowing there is a high No vote ensures that there will be no comments or Q/A’s around this issue, lest you poke the bear.

  13. flogga

    Robert Reynolds, I think you need to look more closely at the numbers before jumping to conclusions about the influence of the Muslim vote. For example, in the Watson electorate which includes Lakemba, Punchbowl, Bankstown, 69.6% of respondents to the survey voted no. The population of that electorate is 20.3% Muslim. Assuming all the Muslims voted no (which I am sure they did not), then it means that 62% of the non muslim population in that electorate also voted no. Don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions without examining the facts and crunching the numbers.

  14. Robert REYNOLDS

    flogga I am hoping that time will permit me to get back to you soon with a more detailed reply. Suffice to say at the moment that I have been ‘examining the facts’ for many years now.

  15. Robert REYNOLDS

    After having accepted flogga’s kind suggestion in relation to the non-binding $122 million same-sex survey, that is,

    “… to look more closely at the numbers before jumping to conclusions about the influence of the Muslim vote.”

    I would like to report on, my albeit, rather superficial findings which are, as follows:

    The electoral division of Blaxland situated in the western suburbs of Sydney recorded the highest “NO’ vote in Australia, at 73.9%. This division contains the highest percentage of Muslims of any electorate in Australia at 29.2%.

    The electoral division of Watson, also situated in the western suburbs of Sydney recorded the second highest “NO’ vote in Australia, at 69.6%. This division contains the second highest percentage of Muslims in any electorate in Australia at 23.4%. (flogga’s claim in an earlier post that the Muslim population in the electorate is 20.3% appears to be based on outdated information, I noticed that the figure of 23.4% for this electorate was given in a University of South Australia Report entitled “Australian Muslims which was dated 2015. See,

    https://www.unisa.edu.au/Global/EASS/MnM/Publications/Australian_Muslims_Report_2015.pdf)

    The electoral division of Calwell situated just north-west of Melbourne recorded the eighth highest “NO’ vote at 57%. This division contains the third highest percentage of Muslims in Australia at 17.7%.

    The electoral division of Werriwa, again, situated in the western suburbs of Sydney recorded the equal fourth highest “NO’ vote at 63.7%. This division contains the fourth highest percentage of Muslims in Australia at 12.7%.

    The electoral division of McMahon, again, situated in the western suburbs of Sydney recorded the third highest “NO’ vote at 64.9. This division contains the fifth highest percentage of Muslims in Australia at 11.5%.

    I could keep going on but I am sure that by now even those who struggle with the concept of statistical correlation will be ‘getting the general drift’.

    Now, importantly, I want to stress that I am not, repeat NOT, wanting to convey the impression in any way that other factors than the Muslim population were not involved in the no vote that was evident in these and other electorates. The influence of conservative and orthodox Christians cannot be overlooked and the conservative cultural practices and views of many immigrants, especially Asians, should also be kept in mind.

    There is much more that could be said here in relation to these issues. However I would like to give the last word to former President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Mr Keysar Trad He is quoted in Fairfax Media on Thursday November 16th as follows:

    “The former president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Keysar Trad, was pleased at the 75 per cent “no” vote in Labor frontbencher Jason Clare’s electorate of Blaxland, and surprised it was not even higher.

    “That result is heartening,” he said. “I would have expected more than that, I think the clergy of both Muslim and Christian faiths has done their role and educated our parishioners about the ramifications of a “yes” vote.

    Mr Trad said the entire survey process was regarded with a deep mistrust by both Islamic and Chinese Christian migrant communities, who believe it had been hijacked by out-of-touch inner-city leaders. He warned local MPs to prepare for a backlash.

    “It is polarising,” he said. “Unless these survey results are neutralised very quickly by a bipartisan decision then the electorate may go far more conservative in the future.””

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/samesex-marriage-result-why-multicultural-communities-registered-huge-no-votes-20171115-gzltjr.html

    (I apologize if there is a paywall on this article.)

    I am completely mystified by the attitude of many on the political left who are simultaneously pro-same sex-marriage and pro-Islam. Some of the most vehement homophobes come from the Muslim community. How is left reconciles this glaring inconsistency is totally beyond me.

    I should say that all of my percentages for the Muslim population of electoral divisions were taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics website:

    http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/CED128?opendocument

    My percentages were taken from media reports such as,

    https://theconversation.com/how-social-conservatism-among-ethnic-communities-drove-a-strong-no-vote-in-western-sydney-87509?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2016%202017%20-%2087997349&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2016%202017%20-%2087997349+CID_10832b219e41891aa62d6790c67ebc80&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=How%20social%20conservatism%20among%20ethnic%20communities%20drove%20a%20strong%20no%20vote%20in%20western%20Sydney
    (Apologies for the length of that link.)

    I would have liked to follow up a few other lines of investigation on this issue but unfortunately I have other matters to attend to.

  16. flogga

    My point Robert was that if you crunch the numbers and exclude the muslim populations of these electorates from the calculation you will note that these electorates had a no vote that was significantly higher than average despite their muslim populations, and therefore my conclusion based on the data is that the muslim populations were not of material influence on the outcome in these electorates. Let me do the numbers for you based on the Blaxland electorate. As you point out, the ‘no’ vote in Blaxland was 73.9%, and you also point out that the proportion of muslims in the electorate is 29.2%. For the purposes of the calculation let’s assume that all the muslims voted no (which of course is not only highly unlikely, but also inflates their contribution to the no vote in this analysis). If 73.9% of the electorate voted no, and 29.2% of the electorate is muslim, and we assume they all voted no, it means that 44.7% of the no voters in Blaxland were non muslims. If non muslims account for 70.8% lf the population of the electorate, then it means that 63% of the non muslim population of Blaxland voted no. Even if there were no muslims at all in the Blaxland electorate, the non muslim population voted overwhelmingly no. So despite the fact that the Blaxland electorate has the highest proportion of muslims of all electorates in Australia, your assertion that “these results show how the Muslim population of this country can and does influence political decisions in a very regressive way” is not supported by the evidence. You simply identify electorates with high muslim populations that also had high no votes, and you then patronisingly state that “I am sure that by now even those who struggle with the concept of statistical correlation will be ‘getting the general drift’”. My analysis shows that despite the correlation you have identified, the conclusion you have drawn is not supported by the evidence. As I suggested before, don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions without examining the facts and crunching the numbers.

  17. Diane

    Rather than jump to the conclusion that it’s the religious makeup of an electorate that has made the difference, I would rather see the rating on the socio-economic index (if there is such a thing) and education levels of the electorates where there was a higher No vote. I am sure those less able or inclined to do their own research were far more likely to believe the lies put about by the No campaigners. Even someone I know who is supposedly educated said he voted No because of “what it might lead to” … Most of us could see that the only thing it would lead to would be the equal treatment of all people, regardless of their sexual preferences, but it was a lot easier for the scare campaigners to put doubt in people’s minds than it was for reasonable arguments and educated common sense to prevail.

    The fact that a lot of the higher percentage of No voters were in Labor-held electorates just seems to support the fact that Labor have traditionally been seen as the champions of those less able to help themselves with money, influence, or the advantages of education and subsequent ability to research facts and not just believe what they are told by those with an agenda of their own.

  18. Robert REYNOLDS

    Thanks for your very prompt reply flogga.

    Perhaps my comments were a little patronizing as you suggest, but lets be honest, they are probably no more patronizing than your assertion that I jump to (false) conclusions without examining the facts and crunching the numbers. But anyway I am not going to ‘get hung-up’ on that. If you were offended then I apologize.

    I must admit flogga that I cannot for one moment accept your proposition-

    “….. that the muslim populations were not of material influence on the outcome in these electorates.”

    To me they clearly were of material influence (no doubt along with other factors that were probably of less material influence) on achieving that negative outcome.

    As I have already mentioned flogga, we have had Keysar Trad gloating over the very high NO vote that was achieved in the divisions where there is a heavy Muslim influence. He was obviously pleased with his own efforts, together with the efforts of others to ‘educate’ his parishioners to vote NO. Mr Trad seems to think that he and his Muslim organizations played a role in securing the NO vote in the Western Sydney electorates. I note that you have not had any comment to make on Mr Trad’s remarks.

    I am also wondering just what Mr Trad meant by his reported remark that,

    “He warned local MPs to prepare for a backlash.”

    That could be taken in various ways.

    So, overall flogga, it seems that we will therefore have to agree to respectfully disagree on the causes of this high NO vote in the Western Sydney electorates.

    Can I ask you flogga, if the high NO vote in these electorates that are relatively heavily populated by Muslims, was not the cause of the high NO vote, then what do you think might be the reason(s) for it?

    Let me give you a categorical assurance flogga, I stand by my assertion that,

    “these results show how the Muslim population of this country can and does influence political decisions in a very regressive way”.

    I have been presented with no evidence that causes me to change my mind on that.

    Just a couple of points in passing too, flogga, according to Pew Research;

    “Muslims overwhelmingly say that homosexual behavior is morally wrong, including three-quarters or more in 33 of the 36 countries where the question was asked.”

    I would suggest flogga that when Muslim migrants come here to Australia that they leave neither their Korans nor these beliefs at the ‘front gate’.

    http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-morality/

    Finally, I would recommend Section 3.1 “Application of Islamic Law”, of the following Wikipedia article,

    “Societal attitudes toward homosexuality”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Societal_attitudes_toward_homosexuality

  19. flogga

    Robert, you clearly have strong opinions about Islam and Australia. All I was pointing out is that even if there were no Muslims in the electorates you highlight, the vote would nonetheless have been overwhelmingly in the negative. I am not going to speculate on why. However to conclude that the muslim populations had a material impact on the outcome of the SSM vote in these electorates is simply not supported by the evidence whether you are willing to acknowledge that or not.

  20. jimhaz

    “overwhelmingly in the negative”

    Where is your evidence flogga to counteract what RR said?

    By the way Muslims are only part of the more conservative nature of migrants residing in those areas. Lots of Indians now as well whom I personally find more conservative.

    I would agree that the false content “Mum” No ads would have had a big impact in those suburbs. Latham and anti-inner city lefty folks may have as well. Christians are also more likely to be polarised by muslim invasions of their suburbs – so yes my guess would be still a no vote but only by 55-45.

  21. flogga

    Jimhaz, the evidence is in the numbers. Look at my analysis above – firstly for the Watson electorate (2.03pm, Nov 16) and secondly for the Blaxland elecorate (2.38pm, Nov 17). The evidence is unequivocal.

  22. corvusboreus

    flogga,
    Perhaps the large Muslim demographic in Blaxland and Watson was not the most crucial factor in ‘no’ crosses outweighing ‘yes’ ticks in those electorates, but to say that the preponderance of adherents to a religious creed with a doctrine that explicitly condemns homosexuality had ‘no material effect’ on the statistical outcome is, in my view, a completely unsupportable statement.

  23. flogga

    The numbers don’t lie. These electorates displayed conservative voting intentions despite their Muslim populations, and my analysis shows that even if the Muslim vote is excluded, that these electorates voted overwhelmingly in the negative. My point all along was that the results are not a function of the Muslim populations in these electorates. Robert stated that “these results show how the Muslim population of this country can and does influence political decisions in a very regressive way”. All I sought to do was to demonstrate through analysis that this is not a conclusion that can be drawn from the data. My assertion about ‘no material impact’ is not an opinion but rather a conclusion drawn from the data.

  24. corvusboreus

    flogga,
    I would conclude that the high ‘conservative’ vote in those electorates was, at least partially, influenced by the high proportion of Moslem residents, rather than being delivered ‘in spite’ of such.
    This is borne out by the more contemporary statistics quoted by Robert Reynolds.
    Those electorates with the highest proportion of adherents to Islam (a religion which, by doctrine, absolutely rejects homosexuality) registered anomalously high proportions of ‘no’ votes.
    Of course, you may not choose to count such significant, and seemingly consistent, statistical variations as being a ‘material impact’, which is partially true in terms of it relating to a non-binding public opinion survey.

  25. Robert REYNOLDS

    Hi flogga,

    It is good to still be in touch.

    If I may, can I come at this from a slightly different angle? Let’s assume that I am now persuaded by your arguments and that I fully accept that I was totally wrong and that the Muslim population of these Western Sydney electorates played no role whatsoever in influencing the NO vote.

    And lets also accept that you do not wish to speculate on possible reasons for the higher than usual NO vote in these electorates. I am still nevertheless, very interested in ‘getting your take’ on the comments made by Mr Keysar Trad, because there does not seem to be much doubt in his mind that he and his like-minded religious affiliates, played a significant role in securing the high NO vote. In fact he expected it would be even higher than what it was. Let me remind you of the comments that he is reported to have made in Fairfax Media,

    ““The former president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Keysar Trad, was pleased at the 75 per cent “no” vote in Labor frontbencher Jason Clare’s electorate of Blaxland, and surprised it was not even higher.

    “That result is heartening,” he said. “I would have expected more than that, I think the clergy of both Muslim and Christian faiths has done their role and educated our parishioners about the ramifications of a “yes” vote.

    Mr Trad said the entire survey process was regarded with a deep mistrust by both Islamic and Chinese Christian migrant communities, who believe it had been hijacked by out-of-touch inner-city leaders. He warned local MPs to prepare for a backlash.

    “It is polarising,” he said. “Unless these survey results are neutralised very quickly by a bipartisan decision then the electorate may go far more conservative in the future.””

    flogga, you have motivated me to undertake a little more research on Mr Trad. A perfunctory check of the internet reveals the following from The Daily Telegraph of September 20th 2017 (obviously before voting closed on the survey). The headline reads,

    “Muslim leaders using sermons to urge no vote in same-sex marriage plebiscite”.

    In the body of the article we then learn that,

    “IMAMS and Islamic leaders are ramping up a campaign against same-sex marriage, using their sermons in mosques across Australia to urge the Muslim community to vote no. ”

    Later in the piece we discover that,

    “And the Grand Mufti of Australia, Ibrahim Abu Mohamad, is understood to have told a Bankstown prayer hall on Friday that legislating same-sex marriage was the start of a change that could mean it would be illegal to tell children homosexuality was wrong.”

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/muslim-leaders-using-sermons-to-urge-no-vote-in-samesex-marriage-plebiscite/news-story/d81f085a26d952905a3cc8076cdfed30

    (This may be behind a paywall. Not being a subscriber to any of Rupert Murdoch’s publications I had to ‘play about’ a little to gain access to this article. A similar, but slightly shorter version of this article is available at The Queensland Times

    https://www.qt.com.au/news/muslim-leader-compares-gay-marriage-incest-during-/3225376/

    This version seems to be more accessible.

    It is interesting flogga that you seem to feel that the efforts of these well-known and influential leaders in the Muslim community had no effect at all on the result. If they were to learn of your views then they might well feel a diminished sense of achievement.

    I look forward to reading your response and learning just where else I have been mistaken.

  26. flogga

    Hi Robert – I was simply analysing the data without making any judgment about the motivations behind each person’s vote or what may have influenced that vote. When Islam was inferred to be a deciding factor in the voting outcomes in particular electorates, I was simply pointing out that irrespective of the votes of muslims that these electorates had voted overwhelmingly in the negative. So you ask whether I feel that the efforts of well known and influential leaders in the Muslim community had no effect on the result? Well, the assumptions of my analysis were that the entire Muslim community of the electorates in question had voted no, so yes, I can confidently assert that the efforts of Muslim leaders had no effect on the result – the data shows that quite clearly. My focus was on the impact of the non muslim population on the results in those electorates, and the data is unequivocal. Non muslims voted overwhelmingly no, and irrespective of how the Muslim community voted, the outcome would have been the same (unless of course a majority of Muslims had voted yes). I don’t really have any comment to make on Mr Trad because I do not know anything about him or what he says, but I’m sure that he has both adherents and detractors within his community and that what he says is not necessarily representative of every Muslim’s views.

  27. Robert REYNOLDS

    Hi flogga,

    Again, thank you very much for your reply. It is good to get your views on this matter.

    I presume that there is one thing that we can readily agree on and that the overall result was a great victory for equality, fairness and tolerance.

    I have enjoyed sharing our respective views on the issue.

  28. corvusboreus

    flogga,
    If fewer people had felt a religious compulsion to vote ‘no’ the statistical outcome would likely not have been ‘the same’, and the lower the discrepancy between nays and yeahs, the less ‘overwhelming’ the ‘result’.
    Do you disagree?

  29. flogga

    Corvus, “those electorates with the highest proportion of adherents to Islam (a religion which, by doctrine, absolutely rejects homosexuality) registered anomalously high proportions of ‘no’ votes”. This is a factual statement supported by the data and with which I agree – there is a clear statistical association (correlation) between the magnitude of the ‘no’ vote and the size of the Muslim population within the electorates I have looked at. Nevertheless, if you analyse the data, it is clear that a majority of survey respondents in the electorates of Watson and Blaxland who are not Muslim voted no. So the outcome within these electorates would have been the same irrespective of how the Muslim population responded (unless they alll voted yes). All I am saying is that the Muslim vote did not affect the outcome. These electorates (both when including or excluding the Muslim population) are inherently conservative. The correlations you observe are real, however the extent to which the non muslim population voted no leads to a conclusion that their votes had no material impact on the results within the electorates of Watson and Blaxland.

  30. flogga

    Corvusboreus, my analysis was based solely upon the proportion of Muslims within the examined elecorates and the overall results. My conculsions are based solely upon those numbers. I cannot comment on how religiosity in general affected the outcome. I’d need more data. So I cannot agree or disagree with your proposition – I don’t have the data.

  31. flogga

    Robert Reynods – yes, we did get the right result.

  32. Robert REYNOLDS

    I could not agree more, flogga.

  33. corvusboreus

    flogga,
    The ‘result’ of this ‘plebiscite’ was merely an assemblage of statistics.
    You readily admit that these statistics were more than likely influenced by factors of religious affiliation (in this case, Islam).
    Therefore, religion significantly affected (ie; had material impact upon) the result.
    Geddit?

  34. flogga

    That’s a bit of a stretch – my conclusion was that Islam had no affect on the outcome in the examined electorates. Whilst I acknowledge a correlation between population size (of muslims) and voting outcome, I do not acknowledge a material impact on the result as a consequence; more than 60% of non muslims in the Blaxland and Watson voted no. I cannot comment on the religiosity of the non muslim population, hence I cannot agree that religion significantly affected (ie; had material impact upon) the result, but the muslim vote on its own clearly did not have a material impact on the result – the numbers don’t lie.

  35. Glenn Barry

    Considering the number of bigoted mouthpieces from many religions that were out there spruiking their nonsense to campaign against marriage equality – why the hell is anyone targeting Muslims specifically?
    It could be equally argued that all no votes in all electorates are attributable to religious influence, but there are no facts to actually support this viewpoint either

  36. Robert REYNOLDS

    I would invite flogga and anyone else who may have been tempted to accept his conclusion-

    ” that Islam had no affect on the outcome in the examined electorates. ”

    to read the following article from The Guardian. It seems that Anna Livsey and Andy Ball at The Guardian have been,

    …”examining the facts and crunching the numbers” as flogga has been exhorting us all to do, and they have come to a totally different conclusion to that arrived at by flogga.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/datablog/2017/nov/17/same-sex-marriage-survey-religion-drove-the-no-vote?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+AUS+v1+-+AUS+morning+mail+callout&utm_term=252892&subid=23620669&CMP=ema_632

    I would note their comment in particular that,

    “After Islam, Christianity was the religion most strongly correlated with a no vote. ”

    The writers at The Guardian are only clearly stating what is blatantly obvious to most clear thinking people.

  37. flogga

    They conclude that Islam was strongly correlated with a no vote – a point with which I have never disagreed. However, even if none of the muslims in Blaxland and Watson had voted, the remainder of these electorate voted overwhelmingly in the negative – hence my conclusion that they had no material effect on the outcome. The numbers are clear. While the muslim vote played a role in lifting the total no vote in these electorates they were not the reason that these electorates on the whole voted so strongly in the negative. From Matt Wade’s article in today’s Herald: “Some commentary on the high ‘no’ vote in western Sydney has drawn attention to the region’s relatively large Islamic population and the traditional views on marriage held by that community. Muslims make up almost 10 percent of the population of western Sydney compared with 2.6 per cent nationally. But Matt Grudnoff, an economist at the Australia Institute, said “this is only a small part of the story” because the ‘no’ vote across Sydney’s west averaged around 58 per cent – 20 percentage points higher than the national average.” The no vote in Watson and Blaxland was overwhelming despite the contributions muslims may have made. As your Guardian reference states, religiosity was the best predictor (highest correlating variable) of the no vote, but it wasn’t the votes of Muslims that sealed the deal in these electorates. Please help me to understand how you can conclude that the Muslim vote swayed the result when over 60% of non muslims in the said electorates voted no? All I’m doing is looking at the numbers dispassionately. No agenda – just a bent for accurate commentary on the data.

  38. flogga

    By the way Robert, if only 40% of the non muslims in these electorates had voted no (rather than over 60%), then when the theoretical ‘overwhelming’ no vote from the muslims in these electorates is added, the total would be over 50% no. In such a scenario, I would be agreeing that the muslim vote had a material impact on the overall voting outcome. Simple statistics which should be blatantly obvious to most clear thinking people.

  39. corvusboreus

    The closer a % figure gets to 50/50, the more ‘under’ than ‘over’ to the directional whelming, which materially affects’ the result.

    Resident Islamic attitudes to homosexuality were not the sole reason for the high ‘no’ count in western Sydney, but played a part.
    Similar applies regarding most of the different enclaves of people dedicated to other religious temple brands, particularly those of the more ultra-orthodox/dogmatic-fundamentalist persuasion.

    There are also secular forms of societal prejudice, which often remain prevalent in areas of low educational and socio-economic status, which is a predominant landscape feature throughout much of outer-western Sydney..
    An example would be bigoted philosophies often generationally entrenched in many ‘bogans’ and ‘westies’ (2564 represent!), who seemingly need little pious justification in order to utter a loud collective cry of ‘phuq off ya pooftah kuntz!’.

    Ps, I agree that the overall result was satisfactory, but would have preferred a 67/33 (2:1) drubbing..

  40. Robert REYNOLDS

    Hi flogga,

    It seems that we are at least in agreement in regard to the correlation between the percentage of Muslims in an electorate and the magnitude of the NO vote.

    Let’s take Blaxland as an example. The population of the electorate is 174,634 people (as at the 2016 Census. All other population figures are also from the 2016 ABS Census results).

    The Muslim population in this electorate is 50,997 or 29.2% of the population.

    75% (or 130,976 people) of the population of the Federal Division of Blaxland participated in the survey.

    http://www.smh.com.au/interactive/2017/samesexmarriagesurveyresults/

    If we assume (just for the sake of argument) that all of the Muslim population of the electorate voted and voted NO, (thanks to the efforts of their leaders such as the previously mentioned Keysar Trad and Ibrahim Abu Mohamad), then this represents 39% of the voters who voted in the electorate. This is not insignificant.

    And this does not take into account the Catholic vote which we have not hitherto mentioned. There are something like 33,535 people who live in this electorate who describe themselves at belonging to this religion. The Catholic Church hierarchy was unequivocally opposed to moves to legalize same-sex marriage, see

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-17/catholic-bishops-explain-same-sex-marriage-opposition/6554500

    My gut feeling (and I have nothing more than that to go on) is that Catholics are probably more likely to disregard the edicts issued by their particular set of witch-doctors than are the Muslims. But it should not go unnoticed that between these two religions alone, we are able to account for very close to 50% of the overall electorate.

    We should also note that another 8.2% of Blaxland are Buddhists. But from what I can gather, it seems that this religion has no fixed position on the same-sex marriage issue.

    https://www.hrc.org/resources/stances-of-faiths-on-lgbt-issues-buddhism
    and
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-shaheen/gay-marriage-what-would-b_b_230855.html

    If someone has information to the contrary regarding the Buddhists, then I stand to be corrected straight away.

    Anyway flogga, I remained totally unconvinced by your claim that, the votes of Muslims,

    “…had no material effect on the outcome…”

    Because we are delving into this question deeper and deeper, I have introduced the likelihood of Catholic influence in the outcome.

    I am not suggesting for an instant that the answers to the causes of the outcome in this, or in other electorate, is simple. But for me the influence of the Muslim vote stands out like the proverbial dog’s gonads.

    By the way flogga, thanks for helping me to ‘clarify my thoughts’. As always I enjoy your posts. You do at least provide some good arguments.

    I admit too, that this response if a little on the superficial side. I acknowledge that I should be doing some more ‘homework’ but I have much else to do too.

    I am curious too, flogga. Are you a trained statistician?

  41. Robert REYNOLDS

    Just a quick afterthought flogga, your comment that,

    “They conclude that Islam was strongly correlated with a no vote – a point with which I have never disagreed. However, even if none of the muslims in Blaxland and Watson had voted, the remainder of these electorate voted overwhelmingly in the negative – hence my conclusion that they had no material effect on the outcome. The numbers are clear.”

    sort of prompts me to think of someone who might claim that,

    “I conclude that there is a strong correlation between smoking and lung cancer but there is no evidence that smoking causes cancer.”

    A fairly apt metaphor, I think actually.

  42. corvusboreus

    I don’t count corn beyond kernels on the cob, but I like pecking pies to pieces (graphically)..

  43. flogga

    Robert, thanks for introducing all sorts of explanatory variables for the result. That’s all outside the scope of my analysis and not something that I ever wanted to entertain in this thread – it’s complex and multivariate and without access to the full data set it is not possible to do proper analysis to tease apart the relative contributions of each of the factors one might hypothesise mattered (eg religiosity, education, language spoken at home, income, household size, etc. etc.). I was simply looking at the proportions of muslims and non muslims in the populations of two electorates and calculating the proportion of non muslims who voted no. That’s it. No more. On the statistics side, university educated and 30 years as a market researcher using statistics on a daily basis – so yes, I know my statistics (but I’m not a statistician). The only thing you keep asserting is that there was a correlation between voters who were muslim and their propensity to vote no. I’ve never disputed that. It is very clear from the analyses I’ve seen in the media. All I’ve ever said is that it was not the muslim vote that pushed these electorates over 50% in the negative. Clean, simple mathematical calculation. As a consequence it is also clear that the muslim vote was not instrumental or material in the electorates voting a majority no. That’s it! All the correlation shows is that muslims are much more likely to vote no. They contributed to the high no vote, but their contribution was not what got the electorate over the line in the negative – it would have voted majority no irrespective of the muslim vote. You seem to want to read more into my analysis whereas my intent is simply to give a factual read on the data.

  44. Robert REYNOLDS

    Thanks flogga.

    I certainly accept what you say. The voting result was certainly complex and multivariate.

    I think that it would be unnecessarily churlish and quite ungrateful of me not to acknowledge your experience with statistics. We have had a vigorous discussion, or debate, if you like. Moreover, I am starting to think that, ‘at the end of the day’, our respective positions are probably not really all that far apart.

    I had a feeling that you had more than a passing interest in statistics and I certainly cannot ignore your experience. Even though I have a Maths major (a double major with Physics) I have not had any real and lasting experience with statistics. I think it is very fair to acknowledge that you have the advantage there with your experience.

    I know that my comments can sometimes be a ‘little forthright and colorful’ but please accept my assurance that I am not meaning to be disrespectful.

    Like you (most probably) I will keep an ‘eye out’ for any further statistical analysis of the survey results that may appear in the media.

  45. flogga

    I’d love to have access to the data. My simple number crunching is very primitive, but the data are nonetheless quite clear. In an ideal world you’d probably run a regression with voting outcome as the dependent variable. In line with most of the analysis I’ve seen in the media I would think that religiosity would show up as the biggest contributor to a person’s vote, but you’d probably find that the proportion of the variance explained by somebody being muslim would be subordinate to a range of other variables, not least because muslims only account for around a third of the population (in the examined electorates) so their contribution to the overall result would be accordingly reduced. I never said their vote didn’t contribute, just that it wasn’t the deciding factor. But if we go right back to the beginning, the reason I first responded to your post was your assertion that the results of the survey show that muslims are demonstrably “influence(ing) political decisions in a very regressive way”, and it was this proposition that I suggested was not in fact supported by the data from the SSM survey.

  46. Robert REYNOLDS

    Some fair points well made flogga. With my science background I have been trained to ‘go with the flow’, i.e. if new evidence comes along then, depending on how solid that evidence is, it may be necessary to change one’s way of thinking. You are causing me to have doubts about my previous claims. I will keep a more open mind on the results now.

    If you come across any further data or analysis in the media that you think is worth commenting on I would be pleased to get your thoughts on that sort of material.

    I would be rather surprised if the experts are not going through the survey results in great detail. What worries me a little though flogga, is the possibility that if anything shows up that could be interpreted as being negative or detrimental to Islam then it may be suppressed in the interests of political correctness. I could say more on that issue but I will self-censor myself. I am sure that you get my drift though. After observing political correctness gone mad in relation to this religion over the last few decades I have become extremely cynical (you have no doubt picked that up in my posts).

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