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Tag Archives: Gay marriage

Honour The Sabbath, But Clearly In A Clearly Optional Way OR Why Tony Is The Only True Conservative Left!

Recently I’ve speculated on how the Christian Right have found clear evidence about the Bible’s opposition to gay marriage based on highly ambiguous readings of obscure verses here and there, but not one of them has come out and condemned the reduction of penalty rates on Sundays. I suppose one could argue that they see it as a sin anyway and whether one is paid double time or not is hardly the issue. However, I would expect that someone like Neil who graced us with his presence in the comments, or Lyle Shelton would have been jumping up and down and complaining about the abolition of penalty rates leading to more sin…

Yes, the wages of sin is death… But you do get to pick your own hours and the working conditions are pretty good!

I don’t know why I chose to start talking about penalty rates. I’m really much more interested in the coming leadership challenge which leaves us with a Liberal Party 100% behind Scott Morrison… Or Peter Dutton, if they decide that he’s the only one who’s still friendly enough with the Tony to convince him to take the effing job in London before they have to revoke his citizenship under the recent changes allowing us to cancel it when dual citizens commit crimes such as sedition… Sedition can loosely be defined as trying to bring down the government, and they could even get a jury to convict Abbott on that.

Ok, ok, I know that Abbott isn’t really a dual citizen and that he revoked his British citizenship some time ago, but he won’t tell us when because it’s a deeply personal thing and therefore an operational matter. Of course, when I say that I know, I’m using the words “I know” in the same way that Donald Trump knows that nobody understands the world like him and he knows that climate change is part of a conspiracy between Hillary and the Chinese to destroy Trump Tower!


Tony decided to warn his colleagues that they were in danger of losing the next election because they weren’t conservative enough. The Tone decided to do this – not in the Party room where he was concerned that his mates may be asleep or not paying attention – but via the media. In the everyday world where most of us live this would be the normal way of doing things. If you had a problem with your boss, you wouldn’t blurt it out at a staff meeting. No, you’d publish it on social media in the hope that someone would bring it to his attention and he’d go, “Yes, that person had a point, I’ll change my ways!”

Peta Credlin rushed to Tony’s defence. He wasn’t being disloyal. He was just frustrated. She quickly added that she was no longer working for Tony and her reflections were just to help us all understand that it was his pent-up frustration and that she wasn’t speaking on his behalf. No, she was just presuming that he was frustrated, and she was just trying to explain what he gets like when he’s frustrated by not having his own way. No, she may no longer be his Chief of Staff, but she knows where he’s coming from!

Tony, we’ll all have you know, is simply trying to keep the Liberal Party together. And we all know that the best way to keep a party together is to criticise it in public…

Yes, Labor has disunity; the Liberals have “a broad church”.

And part of this broad church, in the Gospel according to St Tony, tells us that we should just get rid of all the nonsense that we pretended to believe in when we were trying to get elected. You know, like all that nonsense he pretended to believe in when he was studying to be a priest before he realised that he’d never be Pope.

I mean, don’t you all understand the threat of One Nation?

No, not the One Nation which encourages songs like “We’re all in this together” or multicuturalism. No, the One Nation that wants to exclude most people in our nation from anything approaching rights and thinks that penalty rates should just be abolished altogether and women get pregnant for the money!

You know, One Nation…

Remember, Tony did his bit by meeting with Pauline where they had a jolly good laugh about how he raised the funds to have her put in jail.

You know, One Nation…

Who’ve hired James Ashby. Remember him? He left the Liberals to go and work for Peter Slipper. That worked out badly and he had to leave because he alleged that Slipper was sexually harassing him, but his case sort of fell down when his reaction to a text about being spanked was to reply that he might like it. (This is not a joke. Unless Winston Smith has started to work for the government it’s easily searchable!) Now James is working for Pauline and Tony is saying that we need to be less consistent to what we believe and more like PHON!

You know, One Nation…

Whom Abbott seems to believe may take votes off the Liberals and are a threat.

You know, One Nation…

The Party that the Liberals decided to preference above their Coalition partners in WA. Of course, helping them get elected doesn’t mean that we support them and agree with them. We’re just doing it because we’d trade preferences with the devil himself if he it helped us get elected. I mean, at least we have sunk so low as to work with The Greens!

Yes, it’s a worry that people may start to agree with One Nation whose candidates have done such wonderful things as suggesting that a termite repellent can be used to treat skin cancer (or could, were it not for the fact that silly regulations have stopped it’s import, just because a few people have needed hospitalisation because they have large holes in their face) and the idea that gay people are using “Nazi mind control” to change our thinking. I can see more votes leaking to One Nation than the Labor Party or The Greens. God, doesn’t Donald Trump show how dangerous the left can be?

When I suggest that the Liberals will call a spill this week, it seems highly unlikely at the time of writing. However, in a world where Abbott was elected as PM and Turnbull is praising the virtues of coal and Bill Shorten looks the most sincere of the three*, then it’s a risky call to bet against me unless you’re getting good odds. Do I think, Malcolm will be PM by the end of the week? Probably… But I am prepared to suggest that the person who suggested that Turnbull would go on to be one of our longest-serving and most successful Prime Ministers must be wishing that they’d decided to write a column about the achievements of Lachlan Macquarie instead!

*I only said, of the three, AND I do know we could have a long discussion about it, but the idea that it’s even debatable is EXACTLY my point!

It is Never a Bad Time for Equality

By far the most frustrating of all discourse on Labor’s recent push for same-sex marriage is the discussion of timing and ownership. When should this issue be tackled? Who should table and sponsor the bill? Whilst these questions seem like fairly mundane administrational stuff, of concern only to parliamentary staff and the writers of Hansard, on an issue as divisive as same-sex marriage these issues become electrified with the cries of moral outrage.

First, the issue of timing. Many so-called supporters of marriage equality have given scathing criticism of the timing of Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek’s bill, due to be tabled in parliament on Monday. For instance, Liberal MP Warren Entsch said that, “Bill hasn’t helped matters at all” by bringing up the issue now. Yet for someone who is supposedly behind the push for marriage equality, shouldn’t any time be a good time?

Perhaps objection to the timing was regarding Bill’s low opinion poll ratings, with pushing for same-sex marriage assumed to give these a boost. This criticism was most notably mounted by radio shock jock Alan Jones, despite his somewhat surprising support for legislative change. Yet if 70% of Australians support the change then Shorten will likely receive a poll boost whenever he introduces such a bill. Should he never introduce one?

Or perhaps the timing criticism was due to Labor’s upcoming national conference, which is due to debate whether to change the party’s platform from a conscience vote to a binding vote in favour of change. Such debate could prove heated if more religious, socially conservative representatives agitate against the more socially progressive representatives, which could damage the tentative unity of current federal Labor (imagine hard-line Joe de Bruyn of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employee union engaging in verbal fisticuffs with Tanya Plibersek – not a good look).

On this issue Bill Shorten is clearly being strategic, attempting to avoid argument and achieve this reform without getting too many of his own colleagues toes out of line. Read that sentence again and replace the words “Bill Shorten” with quite literally any progressive leader ever and you would have a generally factual statement.

The other bemoaned issue is that of ownership. Other political leaders have played a game of “well I thought of it first” or “I won’t support it until I get an equal share of the spotlight.” Warren Entsch said, “It’s just all about Bill. We’ve got to do this in a dignified, respectful way, not with this partisan bullshit”. The fact of the matter it that to pass progressive reforms such as this, the majority of the Labor party must support it. So you might not like Bill Shorten’s face on your TV screens every night, but unless you’re prepared to endure it then it is unlikely we will achieve marriage equality in this country. The movement of the Labor party on this issue has been slow and underwhelming, however it has been the key missing puzzle piece which now seems to be fitting into place, with many MPs announcing their shifted position on the issue well before the introduction of Shorten’s bill.

Furthermore, one has to ask whether the fact that Shorten is being politically cunning about this issue actually matters at all to its contents and potential impact on society. The ABC’s Barrie Cassidy claimed Shorten’s actions were “dripping with… opportunism, cynicism and wedging your opponent.” Those descriptions might be in some ways accurate, but why is it such a pertinent observation that it should occupy the thoughts of one of Australia’s premiere political commentators and many others?

Here there is clearly a disjunct between the interests of your average citizen and the political elite. For those involved in the political process, the cut and thrust of Canberra’s daily grind might seem interesting. But for your average citizen, they just want to see their neighbour free to marry whomever they choose. And for many gay people, they simply want to marry the one they love. Is that not worthy of more spilt ink than political thrusting, needless prevarication and the moral indignation of a bunch of out-of-touch “representatives” who are failing to deliver on a social reform the vast majority of society is in favour of?

Following political parties on Facebook often just increases your immunity to propaganda. However I have to admit that seeing Labor’s post signalling they would table a bill to legalise same-sex marriage made me unusually optimistic about Australian politics. Party politics is necessary to achieve marriage equality, but surely it should not be the focus of our dialogue. Our discussion should be on the lives being affected, unable to express through legal means a basic emotion that speaks to the very essence of being a human. Politicians and the press should address this core concern in Canberra, and brush aside all less important matters. In my mind, it is never a bad time for equality.

You can also view this post and many others on Ben Clark’s blog


The power of congregations

gosford anglican churchIt has long been my view that the potential and resources of the church are largely wasted on worship.

There are few institutions with the power to influence fundamental change – governments, unions, the military, big corporations, and the church. This government is undermining the unions, using the military for civil operations, and paving the way for big corporations. Globally, we see the military and corporations wielding power in different states. In times like these, as in other times of crisis, the church needs to step up and use its power to remind the world of its responsibilities.

Despite the falling numbers in church attendance, and the growing number of people who identify as having no religion, there are positive signs of this happening.

Pope Francis is speaking out about poverty, income inequality, the economy, climate change and homosexuality, whilst adopting a much humbler lifestyle and encouraging his clergy to do the same.

“In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. … Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us …”

Caritas Australia has added its voice to other groups protesting against the Federal Government’s cuts of $650 million from Australia’s official aid program in the 2013-14 financial year to direct the money into Tony’s “roads of the 21st century”.

The Australian Christian Lobby also expressed disappointment at the funding cuts, announced on January 18.

Caritas Australia chief executive officer Paul O’Callaghan said it was “unfortunate such a decision had been made in the first year of our partnership with the new government”.

He said the generosity of the Australian public, bolstered by Caritas’ 40-year partnership with the Australian Government, had led to beneficial change in many countries.

“In the last year alone, this partnership enabled Caritas Australia to reach more than 1.1 million people across 20 countries,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

Other organisations such as Care, Save the Children, ChildFund, Plan International and the Fred Hollows Foundation – who also have partnership agreements with the Government – have had their funding cut by about eight per cent.

Churches are not only speaking out against cuts to foreign aid and charities, some are also making conscience investment decisions.

Resolutions passed by the NSW/ACT Synod of the Uniting Church in April show that it is possible for religious institutions to take concerted action on climate change.

The Synod resolved to divest from stocks and shares in corporations engaged in the extraction of fossil fuels, and to redirect investments into renewable energy. A second resolution, again passed by consensus, saw the Synod agree to to call upon the state government to protect important farming land, water resources and conservation areas from coal and coal seam gas mining. A third resolution, with unanimous support once again, called upon the Synod and the Assembly to speak and act pastorally as well as prophetically in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Individual churches are also making a difference. If you have not heard of Gosford Anglican Church and Father Rod then you are missing out. He organises and speaks at rallies and his signs are an internet hit. One of my favourites was “Jesus had 2 dads and he turned out ok”.

The Church has taken a stand on various hot topics of modern society, including marriage equality, asylum seekers and women’s rights.

“From a theological perspective, Jesus was on about one thing and one thing only, and that’s what he called the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom of God manifests itself in compassion and justice and true humility and there are lots of things going on in our society at the moment that aren’t about those things, like the way we treat gay people by not allowing them to be married, the way we treat our planet and the way we treat asylum seekers. These are the things Christians should be seeking – justice and compassion. We contribute to that.”

Another church that has attracted attention is the Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church.

In a bold pro-active move, the congregation thought the best possible response to the Federal Government’s Commission of Audit would be to conduct one of its own, one which they considered would put people before profit. The church raised $15,000 to commission its own Audit on behalf of the people of Australia: the People’s Commission of Audit carried out by independent public policy research organisation The Australia Institute.

They intend to release the results this month before the government releases their Commission of Audit recommendations. The comparison will be very interesting.

I would highly recommend their newsletter “The Beacon”. It is very informative on both domestic and global issues and contains excellent articles by people like refugee advocate Julian Burnside. The March edition was devoted entirely to the asylum seeker problem and is well worth a read, as are all their publications.

I am encouraged by these displays of the church taking a role in calling for change. I understand the importance of separation of church and state but, when the state is abrogating its responsibilities to humanity, then we must all join together in demanding better.

Tony Is A Good Man (Part 2)

Just to show you futher evidence of how good Tony Abbott is, here’s a the letter to Fred Nile. (Click to enlarge)


Photo: Facebook screen shot

I wish to particularly draw your attention to the last comment:

“Marriage is about walking the same path together. It is a profound, rich and fulfilling journey that should draw out the better angels of our nature.”

Have we ever had a Prime Minister that talks about angels so often? But more importantly, we see through this simple paragraph, Abbott’s view on marriage.

It’s a journey.

Along a path.


Must be hard for him then, with Margie in Sydney, and no room for her at the Police Academy when she comes to stay. (No room at the Inn? If only she was a virgin, we’d have a real Christmas story there!)

Yes, I guess that’s why he opposing same sex marriage so strongly. Two people of the same sex can’t go on a journey together. Or walk down a path. It’d just be wrong. If you see two men or two women walking together today. Just tell them that it’s ok to walk together but not to have a journey. Or anything profound. Or rich and fulfilling.

And, if any of them should tell you to clear off and mind your own business, take ’em to court!

We allowed Women and Slaves to Vote, Now We Have Abbott as PM and next I’ll marry a goat!

Photo: YourECards

Photo: YourECards

TONY Abbott says he will “do the right thing” and attend his gay sister’s wedding but could never support the marriage.

And his sister Christine Forster’s engagement to partner Virginia Edwards will not dim his Government’s fight against the country’s first same-sex marriage laws in the ACT.

“If there’s a ceremony of some kind, yes, I will be there with a present,” the Prime Minister told 3AW of his sister’s upcoming nuptials.

“I’ll do the right thing.”

But while wishing the couple well, he revealed he saw no way he could ever change his mind and support same-sex marriage.

As someone once said to me if you come across a person who you strongly disagree with, walk a mile in their shoes – that way you’re a long way from them and you’ve got a new pair of shoes.

At various times over the past few months, I’ve tried to force myself to see the world as someone who voted for The Coalition would. And it just makes me more outraged at Abbott than if I was one of those latte-sipping, chardonay swilling socialists. Honestly, I wanted Mr Action Man up and running fixing all the problems of the country, but instead he’s off somewhere fighting fires. Admirable yes, but that’s not what I expect a PM to do. I want him to stop the rorting of travel allowances, not say that people will always try to cheat, so what can you do? I want Parliament recalled as quickly as possible to repeal this Carbon Tax so my power bill will be next to nothing.

So, I apply my “let’s get a new pair of shoes” thinking to Abbott’s statement about his sister’s wedding.

Ok, let’s start by adopting an anti-gay marriage persona. Mm, even in this persona, the argument that a child has a right to a mother AND a father seems illogical. I mean, are we going to round up all the children of single parents and place them in nice, traditional family because that’s their “right”. Or possibly we could force single parents to find a partner within three months of the child’s birth or the loss of a partner. No, this argument doesn’t satisfy me no matter how hard I try. There are similar problems with the argument that we can’t have same-sex marriage because they can’t have children naturally. Should we demand that of straight couples who use IVF divorce? Or disqualify couples that don’t want children?

The slippery slope argument has some appeal. “If we allow this, next we’ll have to allow polygamy and bestiality.” Of course, if you can find me a goat who can give informed consent and fill out all the necessary paperwork, I’d be prepared to marry her myself. Polygamy. Ok. Yep, the slippery slope sort of works for that.

And, of course, the “it’s against God’s will” argument. That can work, if I close my eyes and imagine Him or Her saying something like, “You’ve got one of your own and that should be enough for you, unless you want to have children in which case you can share it!”

So now I’m all happy. I have my reasons for opposing same sex marriage. It’ll destroy the fabric of society and I’ll have to take on an extra wife, as well as possibly marry a sheep. Allowing gay marriage would be a sin. Like breaking one of the ten commandments. (Although God strangely forgot to include Thou Shalt Not Allow Gay Marriage, and did include something about keeping the Sabbath holy – we may need to shut down shops on Sunday!)

This is where I find Abbott’s comments on his sister’s wedding a little disappointing. As someone who regards all sins as equally against God’s word, let me presume that Gay Marriage is akin to Thou shalt not kill. So instead of his sister’s wedding, let’s imagine another sibling – let’s call him Cain – has a certain desire to kill people and film it. Abbott’s position is now.

TONY Abbott says he will “do the right thing” and attend the event where his brother, Cain intends to make a “snuff film”  but could never support the killing.

And his brother’s directorial choices will not dim his Government’s fight against the making of snuff movies in this country.

“If there’s a ceremony of some kind, yes, I will be there at the first screening,” the Prime Minister told 3AW.

“I’ll do the right thing.”

But while wishing the film well, he revealed he saw no way he could ever change his mind and support the making of such films.

Ok, that may seem absurd to some of you. But nowhere near as absurd as Abbott turning up at a gay wedding – even his sister’s – when he argues so strongly against it. When they get to the part about if anyone objects to this wedding, how can Abbott say nothing?

Or is sometimes “doing the right thing” just deciding that it’s their wedding ceremony just because you don’t like it, that’s no reason to interrupt?

The ACT have just passed some laws allowing same sex marriage. Strangely, the Federal Government think it’s ok to interrupt. Not because they don’t like it, mind you, but because they think that marriage laws should be consistent throughout Australia.

There is a simple solution to that which doesn’t require the cost of a High Court Challenge.

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The prospect of an Abbott Government: so far so bad

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Reading Greg Jericho’s excellent piece on the Drum warning of probable changes to the progressive income tax regime in Australia should the LNP win the September election reminded me that there are still some people – political commentators among them – who think that an Abbott government won’t be any different from the current Labor government. This is despite what we already know about big ticket items like the carbon price – to be repealed in favour of the expensive and totally ineffective ‘direct action’ policy, and the mining tax – to be repealed and replaced with nothing at all. Now there’s a bit of new evidence, based on recent comments and so-called policy releases. These are only fragments, and most have been covered elsewhere, but it’s worth putting it all together to see just where the LNP is heading. So far it seems to be a mixture of right wing ideology tempered with a large dose of electoral bribery and a few lies.

  1. Taxation. Just to recap on Jericho, he sees that current superannuation debate as a proxy for the income tax debate. He shows that the richest people in Australia pay more income tax as a percentage of income than people on lower wages, as they should. If rates were flattened, then the rich would pay less and the poor would pay more. But the real intent of tax cuts to the rich – apart from the obvious favour the LNP is doing for its friends – is that there will be less tax revenue full stop. This means government won’t be able to afford even what it does now, a situation the Liberals will be quite happy with as they are the party of small government.  Read what he says – it’s scary. And everyone who is honest can see that trickle-down economics – which is supposed to justify tax cuts to the rich – simply doesn’t work. The rich merely put their extra cash into unproductive financial speculation – and we know where that gets us – or into off-shore tax havens.

  2. Transport. Abbott says the LNP won’t fund railways; the Commonwealth has ‘no history of funding urban rail,’ he wrongly claims. But it will fund roads. This simply doesn’t make social or economic sense. As Bernard Keane pointed out in Crikey, it can only be an ideological decision. Railways are for public transport, roads are for private transport. To Abbott’s Liberals, private is better than public, end of story. Furthermore, you can’t do much more to privatise railways, but you can always make new roads into toll-ways.

  3. The NBN. There’s already been a lot written about why the Liberal version of the NBN should rightly be called fraudband, so I won’t get into discussion about comparative cost, speed or aesthetics. The point I want to make is simply that the Labor concept of high speed broadband is anathema to Murdoch because it allows effective competition with pay TV, which is the mainstay of the Murdoch empire. It cannot therefore be allowed to happen.  This is no doubt why Abbott and his communications spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull are so happy to lie about who will or will not be connected under the current NBN arrangements.

  4. Welfare. I’ve already expressed my concerns about how the Liberal ‘small government’ mantra will likely impact on welfare policies; I think they will follow the lead of the British Conservatives and do everything they can to limit to number of people who receive welfare, and the amount they get. Privatisation of services is a distinct possibility, as is pushing more responsibility back onto the states – who can’t afford it. The only thing I know of that has been announced is that Abbott will increase assistance to old age pensioners. No one has any idea how he intends to fund this, or what level of assistance he is offering. But the important point here is that most old age pensioners are the elite among welfare recipients. I’m not saying that they are not deserving, or that all are well off; certainly those with no other support than the pension need all the help they can get. But they don’t have to jump through all the hoops that apply to most other welfare recipients and their pension is much more generous than that, for example, of Newstart recipients. It would be electorally disastrous to bash old age pensioners, but must less damaging to bag the unemployed.

  5. Paid Parental Leave. Abbott insists he is going ahead with this. At least up until Thursday he did. But you never can be sure. This is one of the policies that some commentators have suggested is more ‘generous’ than Labor’s (up and running) scheme. I would argue that Abbott’s scheme – for which we will all, rather than the companies that are taxed, ultimately pay – is an egregious example of middle class welfare, and nothing more than an electoral bribe to show he is friendly to women. Well to some women, anyway. There is no possible justification for continuing to pay women at their current salary while they are having a baby. A baby essentially costs the same for everyone. The extras – such as a flash stroller, or designer baby clothes – are a lifestyle choice. Maybe it will be tough to pay the mortgage on a single salary, plus 18 weeks of a minimum wage, but people knew that when they took out the mortgage. It is fair to support everyone equally, but not to support the already well off at a higher level than the less well off. Payment above the minimum wage would be nice – but it’s a condition of employment issue, not something for the public purse. The scheme is not so much generous as indecent.

  6. Aboriginal programs. Abbott may intend to be Minister for Aboriginal Affairs as well as PM, but will he maintain funding? Apparently not.

In terms of what he is promising, it seems that Mr Abbott, like Mr Toad, will say anything. Gay marriage is suddenly a matter for the ‘post-election party room’.  So why couldn’t there be a conscience vote on the recent bill? And maybe there doesn’t have to be a budget surplus after all … Really? Having blamed Labor’s spending as ‘excess’, and talked down the economy for the last three years,  we now have on-again off-again surplus promises from Joe Hockey. Are they going to admit that their world view is wrong?  Have they really rejected austerity? I don’t think so.

The real problem is of course that no matter what Abbott says, you can’t trust him. He’s hedging all his promises both to spend money and to refrain from cutting services around with audit commissions and productivity reviews, in other words, giving himself room to do whatever he likes after the election. No doubt after he claims to have discovered how much worse the budget situation is than Labor let on. A great big black hole etc etc. We’ve seen it all before. Perhaps after all we should forget about policy, and go on trust . . .


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