Whilst this isn’t an issue that I’m deeply passionate about, it’s very important to many of my fellow Australians, and worth a comment.
Before he was dumped, Tony Abbott left a booby trap around this issue. Under pressure from the harpic* Right of his party, he came up with the idea of a plebiscite. Like most of the hyper partisan negative activity he introduced into Australian politics, it has taken on a life of its own – a bit like a fungus.
The effect of this was essentially to kick the issue down the road, whilst at the same time attempting to divide and rule his own party, so that the conservative tail was put in a position where it could effectively wag the moderate dog. Whilst Abbott couldn’t have foreseen that the Coalition would end up with a one-seat majority, that outcome has added another dangerous dimension to his trap.
To cap it all, this was to be a non-binding plebiscite.
Individuals like Tubby Christensen have finished up with a whole lot more power than their support warrants, and the threat of an alliance between him and One Nation has the government terrified.
With good reason – imagine what that unholy union could do to the country - talk about an alliance made in hell!
Anyway, Labor are also extracting every last piece of political advantage from the standoff.
I’ll give some advice to Shorten for free.
He should negotiate with the Coalition, and set up two conditions for Labor’s support of the plebiscite. Mark Dreyfus is meeting George Brandis in Brisbane on Monday. Dreyfus should put these conditions on the agenda.
The first would be to remove the allocation of taxpayer funds from both the “yes” and “no” case proponents. That would save money and potentially take some of the dangerous heat out of the lead-up. The Irish didn’t deem it necessary.
The second would be to make the outcome binding on all members of both parties, including the Coalition. They would be expected to vote in support of the plebiscite outcome, irrespective of private views.
Each of these conditions is completely fair, and doesn’t favour one side or the other.
I doubt that Turnbull has the power to agree, as he is effectively held hostage to the harpics, but at least his refusal to do so would expose for the voters to see, the political shenanigans behind the plebiscite notion.
It’s also worth noting that members of the LBGTI community have something in common with other minority groups – they have become political collateral. Politicians are quite happy to use them as ideological cannon fodder.
As a Vietnam veteran, I am very familiar with this process.
It’s time this cynical use of minorities was no longer part of Australian politics.
*Clean round the bend