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Tag Archives: Same-sex marriage

Lawmakers or lawbreakers?

The Readers Digest list of the 50 most trusted professions in Australia ranks lawyers at 39 and politicians at 49 just scraping in in front of door-to-door salespeople and two places behind call centre staff.

Considering these are the people who make, and prosecute, our laws, this is a sad indictment.

The record of the Abbott government ministers with regard to the law makes one wonder if they may just consider themselves above it all.

Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinis is continuing to be mentioned at ICAC. Not only was he involved in shady dealings when at Australian Water Holdings, he is now implicated in emails (that his lawyers tried to have suppressed) from chief fund-raiser of the NSW Liberal Party Paul Nicolaou to Peta Credlin. As Sinodinis was Finance Director (2009 to 2011) and President (since 2011) for the NSW branch of the Liberal Party, it is hard to believe he knew nothing of the laundering of donations through the Canberra-based Free Enterprise Foundation.

Credlin and Loughnane appear to be in on the act, and Bronwyn Bishop and Tony Abbott have also been named, the former for redirecting funding through her Dame Pattie Menzies Foundation Trust and the latter for his association with Lindsay Partridge the MD of Brickworks who were advocating for the repeal of the carbon tax.

In May, the SMH published an article stating that

“Treasurer Joe Hockey is offering privileged access to a select group including business people and industry lobbyists in return for tens of thousands of dollars in donations to the Liberal Party via a secretive fund-raising body whose activities are not fully disclosed to election funding authorities.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is probing Liberal fund-raising bodies such as the Millennium Forum and questioning their influence on political favours in NSW.

Mr Hockey offers access to one of the country’s highest political offices in return for annual payments.

The donors are members of the North Sydney Forum, a campaign fundraising body run by Mr Hockey’s North Sydney Federal Electoral Conference (FEC). In return for annual fees of up to $22,000, members are rewarded with “VIP” meetings with Mr Hockey, often in private boardrooms.”

Members of the forum include National Australia Bank as well as the influential Financial Services Council, whose chief executive is former NSW Liberal leader John Brogden. Both these groups have benefitted from the changes to the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) laws.

The chairman of the North Sydney Forum is John Hart, who is also the chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia – a hospitality industry lobby group whose members stand to benefit from a government-ordered Productivity Commission review of the Fair Work Act that is expected to examine the issue of penalty rates.

Mr Hart also sits on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council.

When asked if there should be a federal ICAC, Mr Abbott said that he thought that Canberra had a “pretty clean polity”.

Despite accepting huge donations from bodies with obvious vested interests and loudly articulated demands – mining companies, property developers, financial institutions, hotel and gambling bodies, hospitality industry – Tony Abbott said

“The thing is that we’re going to keep the lobbyists out [of politics]. And the problem that ICAC is exposing is a problem of lobbying, essentially its influence peddling . . . and we’re going to make sure that that has no place whatsoever federally.”

Last night’s edition of 60 minutes showed Mal Brough, by his own admission, directed the stealing of a copy of Peter Slipper’s diary. James Ashby also stated he was offered employment and legal costs by Christopher Pyne who has always denied any knowledge or involvement. And now, boy wonder Wyatt Roy is dragged into the fray. Somebody is/has been fibbing.

It would be very interesting to know who filed the complaint with the Australian Federal Police after Mal Brough went through Slipper’s diary and when the complaint was filed. There has been some suggestion that is was ex-defender of bigots, Attorney-General George Brandis.

When faced with action in the International Court over Alexander Downer’s bugging of the East Timor Parliamentary offices to gain confidential trade information for a subsequent employer, Brandis reacted by raiding the offices of the lawyer for East Timor, confiscating the evidence and the passport of the key witness.

If laws get in the way, bypass them or abolish them.

In June, the court upheld a challenge to the National School Chaplaincy Program, saying providing funding directly to chaplaincy organisations was constitutionally invalid. To get around that, the federal government will give a quarter of a billion to the states, insisting they must employ only religious chaplains.

Despite 72 per cent of Australians wanting same-sex marriage legalised, one of Brandis’ first acts was to challenge, and overturn, the ACT’s recently passed same-sex marriage laws. Why? Because he could is all I can come up with.

I am sure Corey Bernardi and Kevin Andrews were demanding this ‘depravity’ be abolished.

A poll in 2009 showed that 85 per cent of the country is in favour of voluntary euthanasia but that will never happen while Kevin Andrews has a driving seat in the Star Chamber.

In 1997, Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz were members of the Coalition’s fundamentalist Christian faction, the Lyons Forum, who were successful in overturning the Northern Territory’s historic voluntary euthanasia law.

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, the recently decorated compassionate Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop also has an affinity with the law. Before we were paying for her Armani suits she was busy representing CSR (amongst other “dodgy” corporate clients) famously asking the court “why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying.”

Our Environment Minister Greg Hunt has overseen the roll back of environmental protection laws to facilitate his approval of coal mining.

The Federal Government’s handover of environmental approval powers to the states for development projects will wind back 30 years of legal protection for the environment and put at risk Australia’s World Heritage areas such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests.

At the same time, state governments are seeking to ‘fast track’ major developments, such as coal mine and coal seam gas projects, reducing public participation and removing legal rights of local communities to mount legal challenges.

This is a crime that will certainly saddle our children with perhaps insurmountable problems.

And in perhaps the most heinous example of disregard for the law, morality, justice and humanity, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is currently considering a submission calling for an investigation into Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. The submission was officially accepted by the ICC on May 19, 2014, and it names Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott. Similar complaints have been lodged with the United Nations. Let’s hope they can compel our government to accept their legal obligations even if they are bereft of ethics.

hague

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.

News.com.au

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.

[polldaddy poll=7505525]

Marriage equality, a matter of conscience

Gay-Australia, image by Archer Magazine

Gay-Australia, image by Archer Magazine

The impetus for marriage equality has been gaining ground for quite some years. Perhaps it’s the pragmatism of most Aussies, or the sense of justice which we place as a primary value which has lead a good majority of Australians to agree that our gay and lesbian citizens should be afforded equal rights under the law – the right to marry if they should choose to do so.

Gay and lesbian couples are currently able to marry in 15 countries which include France, The Netherlands, Spain, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Denmark, Uruguay, Belgium and Argentina.

They can also wed in 13 states of the United States, and on the 17th of July this year England and Wales legalised gay marriage after Queen Elizabeth II provided the Royal Assent. As of next year, couples in England and Wales will be entitled to both civil and religious ceremonies, the latter at the discretion of individual religious organisations.

At the Federal level in Australia, the debate for and against marriage equality has been disappointing. Although former PM Gillard allowed a conscience vote on the issue, she herself voted against it reasoning that, as she did not believe in the institution of marriage per se then she could not vote in support of it. However, one might argue that although an existing discrimination does not effect oneself, is this reason enough to vote against legislation which would rectify the situation?

Tony Abbott has always treaded lightly when it comes to the issue of marriage equality, perhaps fearing that his own conservative Catholicism might have become an issue.

Some hope was given to the gay community via this interview as reported March 2010 by Crikey:

Abbott admitted to a “very poor choice of words” on 60 Minutes. Though, he told presenter Doug Pollard today: “I think blokes of my generation and upbringing do find these things a bit confronting. Anything that’s a bit different can be confronting.”

Abbott pleaded for time to, “I suppose, come to a more balanced and nuanced understanding of these things”. “Don’t hang me, please Doug, for an ill-chosen word,” he said.

“Yes, I am quite a conservative bloke. I do have a traditional background but it doesn’t mean I’m incapable of understanding the complexity of modern life.”

Gay groups have immediately welcomed Abbott’s apparent support for anti-discrimination legislation. He told Joy he was personally “not against the idea . . . in principle I would support it”.

However, what is said during an interview and Abbott’s deeds are often quite different from each other.

Additionally, what Tony Abbott says to one group of people is quite different when he has a different audience to appeal to, as by 2013 Abbott’s coming to a “more balanced and nuanced understanding” appears to have completely evaporated.

In the space of a few hours Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has called marriage equality “the fashion of the moment” to a conservative radio host and “a significant issue” to a group of reporters, leaving the LGBTI community unclear as to his position on the issue.

Tony Abbott has always made it clear that in spite of his attitude towards homosexuality being somewhat ambiguous stating that he “feels threatened by gays” while he himself has a sister who is lesbian, that he will never countenance the likelihood of any government which he leads ever supporting marriage equality.

Populism, thy name is Tony Abbott.

More than Tony Abbott’s attitude of feeling “threatened by gays” has been Abbott’s lack of intestinal fortitude when dealing with rabid homophobic Cory Bernardi. One would have to suspect that Bernardi’s comments are more akin to Abbott’s own opinion due to Abbott’s failure to make any decisive statement concerning Bernardi’s comments. Admittedly Bernardi did resign from his position as Deputy Manager of Opposition Business 2012, but was only mildly rapped over the knuckles by Abbott. Abbott was to describe Bernardi’s comments as ill-disciplined, nothing more.

By June 18th 2013, nothing had changed with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting:

Senator Bernardi also stood by his controversial comments last year that the “next step” after recognising same-sex marriage was to support “creepy people” who chose to have sex with animals.

“Bestiality, of course it was an extreme example, but once again it’s linked to the radical agenda of the Greens Party,” he said.

The Fairfax media unable to extract an opinion from Tony Abbott concerning Bernardi’s extreme and offensive remarks, instead interviewed Malcolm Turnbull:

Malcolm Turnbull told Sky News none of the countries around the world that had legalised same sex marriage had gone on to legalise polygamy.

‘‘And the remarks about bestiality are obviously very extreme and extremely offensive and I dissociate myself from them completely,’’ he added.

Mr Turnbull thought it ‘‘quite likely’’ that Mr Abbott would allow the Coalition a conscience vote on legalising same sex marriage in the next Parliament.

Malcolm Turnbull was clearly over-optimistic in the belief that Abbott would contemplate even the remotest of likelihoods that same-sex couples be permitted marriage equality.

On September 16th, the ACT government introduced a bill to legalise same-sex marriage.

The ACT government has a long history of advocating laws to recognise same-sex partnerships, dating back to its civil unions legislation in 2006, which was quashed by the Howard government but re-enacted last year.

”This is something that I have consistently, albeit quietly, championed,” Mr. Corbell [ACT Attorney-General] said. ”It would be something I would be very proud of if the territory were to become the first jurisdiction in the country to legislate for same-sex marriage.”

It has now been confirmed that the federal government will challenge the ACT’s same-sex marriage laws in the High Court as soon as they are passed, or as per Corbell’s statement, as soon as they become operational. Brandis has already issued a warning to gay couples against marrying under ACT’s laws.

As per Mr. Corbell’s previous prediction, George Brandis has confirmed that his government will argue against marriage equality laws on the basis of “consistency”: that the territory’s laws are inconsistent with the Commonwealth Marriage Act. However, I suspect that the real impetus comes from Brandis’ statements suggesting that any reform is ”a threat” to the ”well-established position” that marriage laws are a Commonwealth matter. Or judging by Brandis’ previously stated opinion that “marriage is defined by custom”, that the security of this “custom” is perceived by himself as under threat.

Brandis:

Mr Deputy President, it is true that marriage is defined by law but, equally and importantly, marriage is defined by custom. In the whole history of our civilisation there has never been a time at which marriage was understood to be other than a relationship between a man and a woman.

I’m not surprised but I’m disappointed that there is a failure to acknowledge that this fundamental matter of inequality needs to be addressed.

In 1935 the “half-caste women of Broome” petitioned the WA Parliament declaring:

Sometimes we have the chance to marry a man of our own choice . . . therefore we ask for our Freedom so that when the chance comes along we can rule our lives and make ourselves true and good citizens.

Today, in 2013 we have the chance to allow our gay and lesbian citizens the same rights to marry, and for all Australians to achieve the same rights as did “the half-caste women” in 1935.

As a note: The reasoning given by Attorney-General George Brandis for his government challenging the validity of same-sex marriage rights is “inconsistency” with the Commonwealth Marriage Act. What then happens to Tony Abbott’s promise to shock-journalist Andrew Bolt to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (the section under which Bolt was convicted), thereby making federal legislation inconsistent with States’ and Territories anti-discrimination laws?

We have a battle, it seems, not just with a matter of conscience but also with a matter of consistency. Neither is making any sense. Discrimination (or populism) wins out against both.

Some reasons why the Libs don’t want you to vote for the Greens

If anybody wants to know what the Coalition plan to do in Government then they need look no further than the Coalition Speakers notes 1 July 2012 for an insight of the frightening world they would hope to thrust upon us. It looks at all the topical issues including Border Protection, Communications and Broadband, Employment and Workplace Relations, Foreign Affairs, Heath Higher Education, Indigenous Australians, Multiculturalism, Population, Superannuation and Youth.

But typical of any Coalition document it focuses more on attacking the other major parties than how and what should be done. The ‘hows’ and ‘whats’ are nothing more than a bit of chest thumping. There is much more passion in their criticisms of both the Government and the Greens than there is in beating their own drum. Just the usual scare tactics, you might say.

What struck me the most about the document was their rabid hatred for everything the Greens stand for. The Greens are not my party of choice, but after reading the document I’m convinced that they stand for much more than I gave them any credit for. And if anything, I’m more determined to vote against a party that opposes – or condemns – what the Greens want for our society.

I’ve made a list of some of the reasons why the Libs don’t want you to vote for the Greens. Upon reading them, you might also ponder how much the Liberals must be out of touch with the modern, progressive Australian. Here’s the list of what the Coalition fear:

The Greens believe in legalising same sex marriages.

The Greens believe in reintroduction of voluntary euthanasia laws in the NT & ACT.

The Greens support holding a plebiscite for an Australian Republic.The Greens will legalise the use of cannabis for specified medical purposes.

The Greens moved a private members bill entitled Anti-Terrorism Reform Bill 2009 to relax terrorism laws and calls for amendments to the Criminal Code and Crimes Act.

The Bill calls for greater freedom of expression and association, freedom from arbitrary detention, legal due process and privacy.

The Greens will repeal the sedition laws and will repeal mandatory sentencing legislation.

The Greens will prohibit the use of electroshock weapons and Tasers.

The Greens want an open door refugee and asylum seeker policy.They have said that they want to increase the number of refugees and asylum seekers Australia takes, but they haven’t said by how much; they also want to decrease the number of skilled migrants and increase the number of family reunion migrants.

Abolition of mandatory detention of illegal immigrants.

Restore Australia’s migration zone to match Australia’s territory and accept responsibility for processing all asylum seekers who seek protection in that zone.

Allow illegal immigrants unrestricted movement in and about reception centres.

Immediately grant illegal immigrants an asylum application visa (AAV) and move them into community reception centres after medical and security checks are satisfied or after 14 days.

Allow illegal immigrants with AAVs the right to work, travel, income support and access to ongoing educational and medical services anywhere in Australia while their claims are being assessed.

Ensure that refusal of an AAV is reviewable by the Administration Appeals Tribunal and that the illegal immigrant is housed in a facility close to an urban area.

Closing Australian ports and territorial waters to nuclear powered vessels and create nuclear free zones, municipalities and ports;

Prohibit mineral exploration, mining, extraction of petroleum and gas in terrestrial and marine nature conservation reserves.

Ban the exploration, mining and export of uranium and the storage of low-grade domestic nuclear waste in a remote location in Australia.

The Greens want a commonly agreed national benchmark to measure poverty and reform the social security system to ensure an adequate income for all.

The Greens will increase the number of marine reserves and implement a national framework for managing recreational and charter fishing.

The Greens will introduce an Oceans Act and establish a statutory National Oceans Authority to coordinate the sustainability of ocean uses. The Authority will report to the Parliament and enforce cosystem-based regional management plans and targets.

The Greens have called for a treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders that recognises prior occupation and have sovereignty enshrined into the constitution.

The Greens will pursue the conclusion of a multilateral convention based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and enact its provisions into Australian Law.

The Greens believe in the full restoration of the Racial Discrimination Act in the NT and ending the federal intervention into indigenous communities regardless of any consequences.

The Greens will repeal amendments to the NT’s land Rights Act as they believe the amendments disadvantage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Want to abolish SES funding for private schools, which would discourage private investment in education and create more dependency on taxpayer funding to fund school education.Impose new federal controls on where new non-government schools can be built or how many students they could enroll, which would severely limit parental choice.

Want Commonwealth funding for private schools kept at 2003/04 levels, which would see many schools be forced to close or sack teachers in order to stay open.Oppose performance payments for teachers.

Believe that education unions are the appropriate industrial representatives in all educational matters.

And finally …

Will increase Youth Allowance to the level of a living wage, irrespective of the cost to taxpayers

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