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101 responses to “Same sex marriage, the ALP Conference and Tony Abbott”

  1. Tyro Rex

    And now we have to start adding up numbers in the lower house. Who in the ALP will vote against a bill to change the act? Will this be limited to just enough members that we can induce enough Coalition members to cross the floor and support the bill? Surely Malcolm is vulnerable due to his constituency. What other Liberals are in that situation?

    What’s the best the media will spend its time on the issue ignoring the fact that the LNP will vote against it and concentrate on “ALP division” the entire debate.

  2. Terry

    I think when ALP Conference delegates had to roll the leader in order to get a majority vote on marriage equality, yet the leader held enough power to ensure that any bill put before Parlaiment would be unsuccessful, it is not as though there is an absence of “ALP division” on which to report.

  3. Justin

    Disappointing, regardless of the fact that it was expected.

    Does anyone know if there is a precedent for this in the ALP (ie. a non-life/death issue getting a conscience vote)?

    If not, why is there no conscience vote on the asylum seeker policy? It’s not like there aren’t people with ‘strong and lifelong views based on religious views’ within the ALP who spoke against the proposal.

  4. Fine

    This morning I was talking to a gay friend about this. He’d been at a gay pub last night and said that the reaction to whole deal had been very mixed. There was quite a lot of gay guys who felt the energy spent lobbying for gay marriage was a was a waste; the argument being that marriage is a traditional, bourgeois construct set up to support the State, so why do we want to buy into this conservative deal? What is there celebrate?

    I think this is to argue not so much against gay marriage as a right, but to argue against that spending energy lobbying for it is necessarily a good thing. I guess this is a reminder that, as in every issue, the response won’t be monolithic. Not every gay person sees gay marriage as an important issue for themselves, or the change in the Labor platform as an unadulterated good..

  5. sg

    I think it’s going to happen by the middle of next year. I don’t think Gillard pushed for this because she thinks it will fail on her side of the floor, and obviously she will get support from the Independents. If it fails it will be because Tony Abbot will have to enforce a bloc vote on the coalition, and that is going to make him look very very bad.

    Also, although I’m sympathetic to Faulkner’s opinion about conscience votes, it’s the tradition in both parties for matters like this to be on a conscience vote basis. I think it’s for the best – it prevents propaganda based on claiming that a party is forcing social change in an authoritarian way.

    The Australian community is ready for this, and I think Abbot will have to relent when the private member’s bill is put forward in February.

    Left-wing critics of Gillard really have to revise their view of her. She’s achieved huge amounts under very difficult circumstances in the past year, and much more than Rudd did.

  6. paul walter

    It is a good thing that social conservatism is finally put back in its box on a social issue, in this case gay rights, social conservatives only represent part of a wider church, so to speak.
    Labor had to do it this way or be seen forever as captive to the antediluvian religous right.
    I don’t doubt there are legitimate concerns for the fundys or that many of these concerns find their origins in good motivations concerning the welfare of women, children, etc.
    But the fundy template just doesn’t quite answer the needs of a developed society in the twenty first century and the fear of Other, reinforced by conservative politics and media, on too many issues involving race, gender, ethnicity and class, I think blinds them to the reality that “others” are just human also, with quirks of their own to deal with.
    The soc cons will just have to accept that their Inquisitions must stop at the bedroom door and that others must be left to make their own choices: Let (s)he who is without blemish, cast the first stone- including also this as pertains to judgementalism and self-righteousness.

  7. billie

    Living in a gay enclave I notice that many gay adults have natural born children concieved in the usual way.

    “Marriage” conveys various rights like
    – the right for your superannuation to be paid to your surviving spouse irrespective of length of marriage
    – the right for your spouse to have a % of your estate upon your death
    – your spouse is considered your next of kin capable for making decisions for you when you are hospitalised.

    It’s reasonable that your life partner is treated as your spouse in law

  8. John Edmond

    I’m sympathetic to the argument Fine puts forward (I’d disagree though, the whole argument for gay marriage is based around the 100% true idea that marriage is mutable). But oof, the worst argument I’ve heard from conservatives against gay marriage is that it’s a waste of time worrying about it when something else is happening elsewhere. Own your hate.

  9. John Bennetts

    This sets Gillard up again in a position where she cannot lose, in a party political sense. Whether or not the bill is passed, she wins.
    For the bill to pass, the Opposition will have to vote against their Leader – an indication of disunity , at best, or outright rejection of their Leader, at worst. Score a point to Gillard and Labor.

    If the motion is defeated, that will not count as a defeat for either Labor or Gillard and may still attract a few supporters from the Opposition benches – a minor win for Gillard, at least a talking point.

    Every situation like this, where Gillard and her government can be painted as walking a middle path, prepared to consider compromise or notional defeat, draws attention to the inflexibility, negativity and sterility of an Opposition which is so intellectually deficient that its single policy is a policy of automatic and total, signed-in-blood, not negotiable “No!” to everything that comes from the Government.

    An Opposition whose only view of its role is becoming a laughing stock and very easily snookered, as on this issue. What I cannot figure out is why it has taken Labor this long to start to string together victory after victory.

  10. Christian

    sg – I suspect (and hope) you’re right about Abbott eventually folding on this and allowing a conscience vote. He already seemed to be hedging his bets last week when he avoided answering a direct question about it by saying the question was “academic” because Labor hadnt yet changed its policy.

    Further, he hasnt appeared since the ALP policy change yesterday to make a firm statement one way or the other which suggests he is at least considering his options. Several coalition MPs have already made noises about wanting a conscience vote including, perhaps surprisingly, Barnaby Joyce.

    Fine – although one can never generalise about these things my experience with attitudes to same-sex marriage in the gay community is that it varies greatly depending on the age of the person you speak to. Older gays who remember a time when homosexuality was illegal and who fought to remove the government from their bedrooms cant see why the fuss over marriage. Younger gays who have largely been accepted by family and friends and whose relationships are similarly accepted, cant understand why they shouldnt be allowed to marry. At the marriage rally I attended in Sydney yesterday it was heartening to see that the majority of the thousands of attendees were under 35.

  11. tssk

    Sitll a long way to go. Watch this brave kid asking Michele Bachman about gay marriage rights.


    Sumary and discussion at http://boingboing.net/2011/12/02/a-16-year-old-girl-challenges.html

    After Bachmann said that “all Americans have the same civil rights,” Schmidt pressed her, even as virtually all the adults in the room broke out in applause in response to Bachmann’s reply.

    “Then why can’t gay people get married?” Schmidt asked. They can, Bachmann assured her, as long as they marry a person of the opposite sex. A lengthy exchange ensued, wherein Schmidt kept her cool while calling out Bachmann’s bullshit answers.

  12. jumpy

    billie @6

    It was my impression that those rights were recognised in ” civil union”or at least an “enduring power of attorney”

    Honestly, am I mistaken?

  13. Alex White

    @ billie 6

    Federal Labor has already conferred all the rights of marriage to same-sex couples, including the rights you mention.

    Labor in Government has introduced reforms that have removed discrimination from 84 Commonwealth laws to ensure equal treatment for same-sex couples in the areas of tax, social security, health, aged care, superannuation, immigration, child support and family law.

    The amendment of the Marriage Act remains solely as a symbolic change.

    Just some of these many concrete achievements include:

    Medicare and the PBS safety net: Same-sex couples and their dependent children can now access Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme safety nets as a family.

    Superannuation: Labor’s reforms removed discrimination in Commonwealth Super schemes, so that same-sex partners can access benefits of deceased partners and their children. Labor has also makes it easier for regulated super funds to recognise same-sex relationships

    Immigration: Same-sex couples and their children are now considered “members of the family” for visa purposes, and Australian citizens, permanent residents and some New Zealand citizens can apply for the same partner visa as opposite-sex partners.

    Aged care and social security: Young people can receive recognition of independence for Youth Allowance if they are in a same-sex relationship for over 12 months, lesbian relationships are now recognised as a qualifying relationship for Widow Allowance, and the family home is now exempt from the assets test when one partner enters a nursing care home and the other partner continues to reside there.

    Family law and child support: Same-sex couples who have children using artificial conception procedures are now recognised as parents under Commonwealth law, and same-sex couples can apply for child-support on separation.

    Tax off-sets: Same-sex couples can now access tax concessions previously denied to them, such as eligibility for the dependent spouse tax offset, the next medical expense tax offset or the transfer of unused Senior Australians tax offset.

    Labor in Government has also committed to significant funding for suicide prevention and mental health, including $22.4 million targeted at groups and communities that have a high risk of suicide, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex people.

    These reforms and many others, have provided tangible, real improvements to the rights of GLBTI people in Australia.

    The amendment of the Marriage Act remains solely as a symbolic change.

    (All of this said, the conscience vote squib is a bad move and will be used as precedent by the Right for all kinds of horrible things down the line.)

  14. Adrien

    This might be bad in the long run because it will give Tony Abbott an issue to campaign on and, even tho’ the supporters are in the minority (so I’m told) they may commence a campaign to change that. If Abbott is able to he’ll scrap it.

  15. billie

    Alex White @ 11 thanks!

    I too have heard that a conscience vote allows the government to squib. The act could be framed in such a way as to encourage votes against the legislation

  16. akn

    It may appear that Gillard has been politically adroit in appeasing reactionaries within the party by allowing a conscience vote at the same time as the platform has changed to support for equal marriage rights. The issue of ongoing concern, however, is the misunderstanding of the role of the state in relation rights that Faulkner raises. Once an individual civil rights deficit has been identified within a liberal democracy there is no room for a ‘conscience vote’. Rectifying the deficit ought to require no more than technocratic adjustments to address rights grievances. This is because impingement on individual rights is intolerable to the intentions and purposes of a liberal democracy.

    The problem with allowing rights to be put to a ‘conscience’ vote is that it presents newly recognised rights as equally alienable by a similar vote. Those who vote ‘no’ in a ‘conscience’ vote are effectively exhibiting their willingness to betray democratic principles of equality of civil rights for personal and private reasons. There can be no such reasons in a rational democracy where the intention must always be to promote democracy including by extending rights to individuals who have previously been denied them. T

    hose who seek a conscience vote must address the question: if they have private views opposed to extending rights to individuals then what are they doing in a democratic parliament? Moreover, what is the rational basis for their views such that they allow themselves to oppose the extension of civil rights to anyone with a legitimate grievance?

  17. jumpy

    [email protected]
    That clears it up, thanks.

    billie @ 14
    Are you against a conscience vote for the ALP but for a conscience vote for the Coalition ?

  18. sg

    I also think Gillard is building a narrative about Abbot, which over the next year is going to take shape independent of the efforts of his boosters in the press. She is casting him and his party as useless nay-sayers, and building an impressive body of achievements as she goes. This is another part of that narrative. By the time she gets to the election I think she is expecting to have built up a community-wide understanding that he has achieved nothing and just stood on the sidelines posturing. If he doesn’t start building an atmosphere of compromise soon, it will look too late when he finally realizes that he is being overwhelmed by this narrative.

    I think Gillard is working on a slow burn and a theory of political engagement that is much more mature than just following the polls and reacting.

  19. adrian

    Yes sg, she’s bypassing the Canberra press gallery, most of whom have no idea of what’s actually happening.

  20. grace pettigrew

    Agree with sg, and yes, the press gallery, esp Toolman and Simpkin on the ABC, have no idea how to report the ALP conference properly. As Gillard’s pieces shift around the board and her moves open up, they are still mouthing yesterday’s platitudes from the News Ltd playbook. What is point of these people? I cannot believe anyone is interested in Toolman’s crusty, dimwitted opinions about what is occuring before our eyes. And wasn’t it just great to see Doogie and Albo in full flight. That’s australian politics at its best.

  21. Jonathan Nolan

    #3 Justin: There have been plenty of votes in the past on non life/death issues. Under Howard it was only “life or death” however past votes have included:

    divorce law reform in the 1950s.
    the marriage act in the 1960s
    flouridisation of Canberra’s water.
    The site of the new parliament house.


  22. Jacques de Molay

    Toolman becomes the sole host of 7.30 next year too.

  23. John D

    If the Qld civil union vote is any indication, the only Alp members who voted against appeared to be people with very strong views on the subject. The same may be true when it comes up in the federal parliament.
    Some federal Liberals who are against gay marriage are arguing for a conscience vote. This makes sense. My guess is that they see this as the sort of issue they would want to go to a conscience vote if most of their party was in favour. Abbott’s blocking of a conscience vote here would set a bad precedent.

  24. Nickws

    I think Faulkner was merely going through the motions in attacking the conscience vote, as he quietly knows that the numbers would never have been there to allow the platform changed to support marriage eqaulity if there hadn’t been such a clause.

    I don’t think any Leftwinger should get too upset at the conscience vote, not unless they’re willing to say they’re happy to see retiring Labor Right members suspended or even expelled for deciding to abstain from a marriage vote (even though of course no such vote would have come to the floor in that case—I’m just making a point about the danger of ideological purity to those of you not as savvy as Faulkner et al. Anyway, {cough}uranium sales to India{/cough}.)

    The Libs forcing a partyline vote over this is exquisitely painful to a whole bunch of socially agnostic/moderate MPs from leafy surburbia, particularly those under the age of forty. For instance, under Abbott’s rule the three ambitious inner East Melbourne Libs wil have to explain to their pro-civil rights constituents that they can’t be lobbied on any marriage vote, even as various Labor social traditionalists start accepting visits from all groups trying to influence their vote.

    Maybe the Monk can force his party to heel over this issue during this term, but down the road I expect the Liberal moderates to insist on free votes on this issues regardless of what Abbott wants.

  25. Fran Barlow

    I don’t have much to object to in your remarks above NickWS. The pressure is now squarely on those in the LNP holding themselves out as “moderates” to buck the party line on gay marriage and vote to support the mooted Stephen Jones bill. It will indeed look absurd for the LNP, which makes much of the freedom it accords its members, if they cannot match the conscience vote position adopted by the ALP. It will call into question the integrity of their previous conscience votes as the apllication will have been mainly to protect their right flank. Having Gillard and Abbott on the same page will look embarrassing for both.

    Gillard may be especially exposed on this as it’s hard to imagine what possible ethical basis she could have for opposing the proposition. The party has repudiated the position and she claims no religious conviction. Personally, I doubt her agnosticism, but it will be interesting to see what rationale she adopts. Aside from a desire to genuflect before at Lindsay-style rightwing clerical prejudice (which position will need some tarting up — will ‘profound community consensus’ get another outing?), it’s hard to imagine what that would be.

  26. Chris

    I’ve seen news reports saying that if Abbott does not allow a conscience vote then the legislation would not pass, but nothing about what the actual numbers would look like. Is it even vaguely close? I’d imagine that at least a few liberals would be willing to cross the floor over it – for some it may not even hurt them at pre-selection time given the demographics of their electorates, and might even help at election time (standing up to their party for what their electorate actually wants).

  27. wilful

    Correct me if I’m wrong (wont be hard), but I thought that the Liberal Party rules were such that a conscience vote was always allowed. i thought that they were proud that in principle every MP is an independent thinking rational adult, and there were no “three line whips” for them.

    So what’s Tonza going on about?

    It’ll be pretty bloody hard for Tunbull and any other inner city Libs from Melbourne or Sydney to vote against an equality bill.

  28. sg

    yes wilful, it could be a rather beautiful way to highlight the division Abbot’s brand of conservatism is creating in his own party.

  29. sg

    Also I think some of the left-wing critics of Gillard should read this opinion piece in the Herald that points out her achievements and the unreasonable nature of her critics.

  30. Kim

    various Labor social traditionalists start accepting visits from all groups trying to influence their vote

    … and some Labor MPs who weren’t expected to ended up voting for Civil Unions in Queensland.

  31. Justin

    @Jonathan #21

    Thanks for the link. Worth noting that the decriminalization of homos-xuality in the 70s and the Sex Discrimination Act 1983 were conscience votes – certainly relevant precedents.

  32. Adrien

    if they cannot match the conscience vote position adopted by the ALP. It will call into question the integrity of their previous conscience votes as the apllication will have been mainly to protect their right flank

    That’s very true. And if Abbott gets the ships out and wins it will indicate that the hardliners have the upper hand in the Liberal Party.

  33. silkworm

    Senator David Feeney argued on Crikey that, after meeting with advocates of gay marriage, he had become sympathetic to their cause, and supported equality in marriage. This position, of course, is implausible, and probably reflects the fact that, conscience vote or not, Feeney knows he is powerless to stop the legalization of gay marriage.

    Feeney went on to show, however, that his main concern was to protect the homophobic sensibilities of the clergy. Once legalized, he argued, gay couples would be approaching churches everywhere to hold their weddings, and Feeney wanted to preserve the “right” of the Christian celebrant to refuse to conduct the wedding. Feeney feared that in the case of a refusal to conduct a service, the couple might sue the particular minister, or the Church, for discrimination. Feeney wanted additional legislation to protect the Church against this risk.

    That amendment did not get up at the conference. It would appear that once the legislation is passed, gay couples may still be at risk of discrimination by particular churches, and those churches may yet be at risk of litigation by those to whom they have refused service.

  34. su

    Yeah that is a good piece, Sg, and can I be the x millionth to say that the resignations of Adams and Williamson were just icing on the cake. You know you are on the right track when the author of Dead White Males throws a hissy.

  35. sg

    Yes su, I can imagine that the ascendance of a woman to power – and especially a woman like Gillard, with her unassuming manner, genuine working class background, formidable intellect and unwillingness to just play the supporting role when things were starting to go pear shaped – would give Williamson something of an aneurysm. Oh sad day when they realized that their party had modernized and left them behind…

  36. Sam

    A little bit OT, but I was wondering about the detail of Queensland’s civil unions.

    Will the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages


    change its name to the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and Civil Unions?

    If a couple gets civilly unioned, and the relationship breaks up after breaking down (as relationships sometimes do), is there a legal process, like a divorce, that is available for them to get civilly un-unioned, or are they unioned until one of them dies?

    Are there bigamy-like prohibitions against multiple simultaneous civil unions?

    And if so, what are the gay Mormons going to do?

    Just wondering.

  37. Mercurius

    Yes, well recent events should certainly give everyone pause for a reappraisal of Gillard’s Prime Ministership. For better or worse, there has been a rather large and recent influx of new data to the mix — and anyone who is inclined to continue staring at their shoes and muttering darkly about the manner of her ascension could reasonably face a charge of being impervious to new evidence…

    She has handled the political agenda for 2011 in an adroit fashion, played a long(er) game than most, and withstood withering criticism and pressure (both fair and unfair) from opponents and supporters alike. Yet, despite this, she maintains a productive and constructive political machine capable of co-ordinating action in the most trying of circumstances.

    How many people in the country d’ya reckon could have handled what the PM has dealt with in the last 15 months (albeit how much of it was self-inflicted 😉 ? Could you?

  38. wilful

    merc, she still couldn’t sell shit to a sewer rat.

  39. sg

    Also the ALP election post-mortem has been leaked and bascially accuses Rudd of trying to destroy Gillard’s campaign, as well as giving some fairly unflattering descriptions of his government before Gillard took over. The more I see of her performance since that day, the stronger my sense that she and her party were not reacting just to bad polling, or acting only out of naked personal ambition, but were trying to turn the govt away from a disastrous course. And despite a hung parliament, she seems to have done exactly that.

  40. su

    Wilful, you charmer, rats use sewers as trackways that keep them safe from predators, not because of a preference for shit.

  41. sg

    She does seem, however, to be able to sell carbon pricing to a group of independent politicians, and gay marriage to a modern Australian political party. Which is probably a more relevant qualification for a PM than being able to sell shit to sewer rats.

  42. Paul Norton

    Justin #31, IIRC the vote on the Sex Discrimination Act in 1983 was a conscience vote in part because work had already been done on such an Act by the Fraser Government prior to the 1983 Federal election, and some Coalition MPs (such as Liberal Ian McPhee and National Tom McVeigh) were sufficiently committed to the general principle involved that they were not prepared to reverse their positions just because there had been a change of government with inter alia a strengthening of the legislation.

  43. Fran Barlow

    sg said:

    Also the ALP election post-mortem has been leaked and basically accuses Rudd of trying to destroy Gillard’s campaign, as well as giving some fairly unflattering descriptions of his government before Gillard took over.

    AIUI, the origins of this leak were in News Ltd, so I’m putting in an early caveat on its credibility … I’ll wait until a properly authenticated copy is in the public domain. Assuming though, purely for the sake of argument, the reported contents are as they have been presented by the echo chamber …

    It is amusing that the leaked document condemns Rudd for leaking (without any evidence he did). Irony abounds.

    I’m going to stop at this point so as to avoid a rehash of the tedious Rudd v Gillard threads we’ve had here in the past. Let’s just put it under the heading of what happens when a bunch of opportunistic, naive, timorous and unscrupulous characters find themselves in government and watch their manoeuvering go otyher than as they hoped and panic. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the period from July 2009 to June 2010 — and there are many — it’s now firmly in the past tense. We have to play the cards as they stand now. I see no practical alternative to Gillard for the ALP, and despite my general disgust at her stances on the MRRT, gay marriage, Afghanistan, asylum seekers and most recently the repudiation of the NNPT, nobody else in her party who could conceivably win both the leadership and the election is offering anything clearly better.

  44. sg

    Damned with faint praise there, Fran…

    I agree with this:

    It is amusing that the leaked document condemns Rudd for leaking (without any evidence he did). Irony abounds.

    and also the caveats this means we should place on the reporting of the leak.

  45. tssk

    I was amused to read from all corners to the earth that advocates from church and right wing groups en masse now have concerns about gay marriage because of poligamy and that any decisions on legalisg gay marriage should be stalled in the name of equality until we debate from scratch polygamous marriage.

    I’m sure such concerns aren’t part of some infinite delay tactic. Imagine if this tactic had been used in previous cases of civil rights. Maybe we’ve moved too fast. Maybe black people in America would have been content to wait decades for equality while the debate centered on equality for lower caste members in India.

    I’m amazed that concerned parties in the UK, USA and Australia thought of this at the same time! What a coincidence!

  46. wilful

    peeps, you wont disagree that while Gillard does have a reasonable list of accomplishments in 2011, her standing in the eyes of the people is fairly poor, and she deserves a good part of the blame for this? Can’t blame the media for everything.

  47. Nickws

    Please, some perspective. Julia Gillard is essentially Steve Bracks writ large, and I liked Steve Bracks, so I’m not crapping on her by making that comparision. I just don’t view that kind of leader as Saviour.

    And I would be much happier if she hadn’t used her version of the Sex Discrimation Act/Redfern Speech/Stolen Generation apology to divert attention from her decision to reintroduce John Howard’s policy of selling uranium to India.

  48. Fine

    I remember it wasn’t long ago Adams wrote an article demanding that Gillard resign for the good of the Party and Mungo McCallum wrote another proclaiming that the ‘experiment’ was over. I found it a bit stomach churning myself. How dare Gillard defy them and actually get some good legislation through Parliament, whilst handling being in a minority government and having the shrillest and most vitriolic campaign I’ve ever seen directed toward her?

    Yes, I disagree with many of her policies and she has been woeful as a salesperson at times. But, I very much admire her guts.

  49. Fine

    Nickws, I like Bracks too. But, the difference is that Bracks never had to contend with the sheer nastiness which Gillard has had to deal with. He also didn’t do much in his first term in office. It was very much about keeping everything low key and steady.

  50. Incurious & Unread


    “reintroduce John Howard’s policy of selling uranium to India.”

    Does the fact that it was a Howard policy make it worse than it would have been otherwise?

    If so, why?

    If not, why mention Howard at all?

  51. Fran Barlow

    Does the fact that it was a Howard policy make it worse than it would have been otherwise?

    For many, yes. This is supposed to be the ALP not the Liberals and provenance points to character. You vote ALP to get rid of Howard and so if you follow his policies, then …

    Trouble is, that uranium sales to India is just one of them. There are a number of others, tough on refugees being prominent amongst them.

  52. Nickws

    Fine, I agree with you about the toxicity Gillard has encountered, but my point about Bracks ties in to what Mercurius asked at 37: “How many people in the country d’ya reckon could have handled what the PM has dealt with in the last 15 months?”

    How many? Just about all of the potential candidates. In reality the number of Labor pols who would do what Gillard has done ever since forming minority government is not some diminishingly small, Only Ted Theodore Knew How To Handle The Great Depression style clique.

    Gillard’s main strength is her ability to hold it together in the face of sexism and a stupid kind of ‘middle class’ bigotry (that fucking ABC show, f’rinstance). Yet put a generic Stephen Smith in as Rudd’s replacement and he doesn’t even have to address any of that sideshow BS to begin with.

    You have to get down to a truly defective leader such as Latham to find someone who couldn’t have steered the government to where it is today.

  53. Kim

    Sam – read the legislation (which we’ve linked to) and you will find answers to your questions. I don’t know what the intent of them is, but obviously you can not be in multiple civil unions at once and there is a process for ending them.

  54. su

    @ Fran: Offshore processing can be seen in that light but the other part of the platform, raising the intake of refugees, cannot.

    Abbott is considering a conscience vote according to News, and O’Farrell is lobbying the Federal party via the press. Could be the LNP is about to bravely engage with electoral realities, circa 1980.

  55. Nickws

    Does the fact that it was a Howard policy make it worse than it would have been otherwise?

    I’d argue that some Howard foreign policy was good, and some was bad. The bad policy has a grand unifying theme to it, thanks to Iraq, AWB, the Bush administration.

    The more we learn about things such as India waiting in the wings to duchess the Karzai regime as a way of getting at Pakistan, and the US neocon support for this possibility, well, the more I see the uranium sales as being somehow reminiscent of that geopolitics. Bad Howardism geopolitics.

    Thankfully I still have a little respect for Obama’s efforts to do something to clean-up the PakAghan mess left to him by the previous administration, so I don’t buy that Gillard has done this as a way to grovel to American neocon dreams in his White House (I pray said dreams don’t exist). To be blunt I don’t know if this is anything other a vulgar money grab. A money grab which unfortunately happens to return us to the pre-Kevin ’07 era, god knows why.

    If so, why?

    If not, why mention Howard at all?

    Nah yeah, I’m not seeing the unfairness of me pointing out that the Labor government that got us out of Iraq (and is probably about to do the same with Afghanistan) is now relapsing in some small part to the era when Dolly Downer bestrode the world stage as our colossus.

    ‘Howard/Gillard uranium policy’ isn’t a non sequitur, even if a pragmatic like me is still trying to figure out what the bloody hell is going on, why that thing even exists.

    People more Leftwing than me are welcome to connect the dots however they see fit, I won’t scold them.

  56. Patrickb

    Yeah, I reckon I could. Not to say that the PM hasn’t proven to be a stayer. I do recall her crappy stuff about alarm clocks and early rising, and she doesn’t really support gay marriage and she’s trying to keep the refugees out. However she has put the carbon tax in and the MRRT looks like a goer (should have been a RSPT though) and there have been many other positive acts. And she has been very stoic in the face of the despicable, perverse and immoral behaviour of the likes of Jones. All in all I think people may warm to her, we need to see more of the dry humour and ice pick invective though. I’m hoping that be mid next year she’s driven a stake through the heart of the zombie overlord sending his brainless minions into paroxysms of policy privation panic.

  57. akn

    Gillard’s big plus is that she’s not Howard. That was Rudd’s big plus too. As to assessing Gillard’s performance in office – it only makes sense for those to do so who have any remaining ‘belief’ in Labor.

    The rest of use watch with gimlet eye for the tell tale signs of looking after the mates: running an absurd conscience vote on equal rights marriage (for the DLP deep moles), not personally adopting an equal rights stance on the matter, slacking the take from the MRRT, not repealing s 45 d of the Trade Practices Act (again), being way too slow to address significant grievances over the ABCC (was the legislation to dump it actually introduced as promised?), selling uranium to India (thereby trashing the NNPT).

    Most of all, however, presiding over a detention program that makes “illegal” the act of seeking refuge, incarcerates children and incarcerates genuine refugees without adequate redress. Along with that Gillard stands exposed politically for the sheer political incompetence involved in allowing the man who was once Ruddock’s adviser, Andrew Metcalf, to head up DIAC until very recently (he is currently on ‘extended leave’).

    All in all, while there is an admirable raft of positive legislation on the table or passed, it remains the case that Gillard would not have pursued the carbon tax without the compelling factor of being in a minority government dependent on Green and independent support.

  58. Mercurius

    @38,46 — yaah, wilful I agree she’s not popular now or perhaps , dare I suggest, yet. My point is that Shirley you’d have to begin a process of re-appraisal right about now — she has serious runs on the board over the last 12 months. What I’m saying is that people who can’t or won’t revisit their views of the Gillard government at this point are starting to look like they’re impervious to taking in new data…

    @45 tssk, sorry, I know you’re sincere, but I’m just not able to take your clucking seriously, since according to your predictions we are now enduring the fourth (or is it fifth?) month of an Abbott government, yes?

  59. sg


    You have to get down to a truly defective leader such as Latham to find someone who couldn’t have steered the government to where it is today.

    By that you mean Rudd, the man who beat Howard, right? Who had stellar public support and failed to do any of the things Gillard has done. Or perhaps you mean Turnbull, who couldn’t even get his party to agree AGW is happening, and is now dependent on the whim of a known conservative Catholic to decide whether he can support a civil right that is very important to his constituency?

    I think you’re over-stating the ability of the major politicians of our era. If it were so easy, how come we only got a carbon price in 2011 instead of 1990, when Peacock (?) was running an opposition party with a commitment to a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions?

    The reality is that these things haven’t happened before Gillard, and she has got them through in a political environment that is much, much harder than Rudd faced.


    it remains the case that Gillard would not have pursued the carbon tax without the compelling factor of being in a minority government dependent on Green and independent support.

    even though she stated before the last election that she would set a price on carbon in her next term? Your statement doesn’t sit well with the reality of her stated intentions in 2010.

  60. Incurious & Unread


    Howard is gone. He’s not coming back. Your characterisations of Gillard as a non-Howard or anti-Howard or neo-Howard is irrational and irrelevant. Policies are just policies.

    Or, perhaps you need to check back with Howard about some of Gillard’s new policies, so you can decide whether to support or oppose them. If Howard supports it, then it must be bad. Right?

  61. Patrickb

    What’s with the Howard obsession?

  62. Nickws

    sg, I give Gillard credit for doing what has to be done while copping an unprecedented level of shit for her gender, marital status, accent. It’s plainly obvious that no other potential Labor leader would face any of that personal abuse, with the possible exception of Combet and his accent, but he’s from a fairly privileged background, so I reckon that precludes the media instinctively treating him like an oik.

    But I stand by my assessment of her as nothing but a big league Bracksian technocrat. Even if I were to grant you your assessment of Rudd as being a disaster who couldn’t run this minority government (which I don’t—he never had a very friendly senate, we don’t know what his upper limits were) that still leaves the likes of Shorten, Smith.

    I just don’t see why they couldn’t have done what Gillard has done. She’s not the bleeding messiah, she just has a higher bar to clear to be effective. And for her troubles she getting the kind of Newspoll results that I can’t imagine a PM Bill Shorten getting.

    Incurious and Unread; “policies are just policies”; Gillard following Howard’s lead by effectively taking Australia out of the non-proliferation regime, that’s bad policy.

    There’s a whole FP heritage for Labor that goes back to Evatt, that holds multilateralism to be for the common good of humanity. No amount of uncritical Gillard worship changes the fact she’s just flipped that off. For what? Because Crean and Ferguson are looking to pick up a couple of mining company directorships in retirement? To help Mac bank’s bottom line?

  63. akn

    Yes sg that’s right. I don’t ‘believe’ in parties or politicians ability to do what they say they will do except under circumstances where it is in their personal or political interests to do so. In this case it was in Gillard’s political interest; indeed, so much was it in her interest that she had to make a choice between failing to price carbon and potentially losing minority government in the short term or pricing carbon and potentially losing government in the long term. She acted pragmatically and is in government and good on her for that.

    However, while appraising her political skills and political and public persona is political in terms of gender issues (first female PM; role model etc) it is a pretty flimsy concern against the list of failures that I posted above.

  64. Nickws

    If Howard supports it, then it must be bad. Right?

    I neglected to add: this is nuts.

    The destruction of our support for the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, is bad, mmmkay.

    Howard gets the prize for being the first Australian PM who wanted to do that AFAIK, so he should be referenced when Gillard completes that task.

  65. tssk

    Mercurius, in case I wasn’t being clear enough I was annoyed at the bogus slippery slope concern troll arguement ie before we say yes to equality on gay marriage let’s talk about polygamy.

    But what did surprise me was that in the news and on various international forums this seemed to be a sudden trend. It’s an improvement I guess on “oh noes this will lead to people marrying their pets/car” but I did wonder if this was co-ordinated. Hopefully the ALP will plough on regardless and hopefully some in the Liberal Party will remember their traditions on conscience votes.

  66. Adrien

    Silkworm – Feeney wanted to preserve the “right” of the Christian celebrant to refuse to conduct the wedding.

    So are you saying that religions that don’t recognize same-sex relationships as valid should be compelled to perform weddings for such couples?

  67. Nickws

    akn: In this case it was in Gillard’s political interest; indeed, so much was it in her interest that she had to make a choice between failing to price carbon and potentially losing minority government in the short term or pricing carbon and potentially losing government in the long term. She acted pragmatically and is in government and good on her for that.

    This is exactly right, and what’s more it’s ultimately true because we have a Labor government that lacks the same kind of elite support as the last one did in its first terms in office, a phenomenon that is hard to get one’s head around. In 1983/86 they scored victories by serving the interests capital; this time around they scored victories by generating a tiny amount of friction with capital (though they’re hardly a return to Whitlam or Chifley).

    Backs to the wall, crash or crash through. And all the factional leaders in the ALP who matter knew it. They knew that piling failure and deadend onto failure and deadend was the best possible way to lose office, and they weren’t going to give up that sweet patronage without exploring their other options first. Hence carbon pricing, the mining tax.

    The sad thing is I think they were motivated by the desire to score media cycle victories as much as the desire to do the right thing. Or maybe that’s not so sad, I don’t know.

  68. Fran Barlow

    sg said:

    even though she stated before the last election that she would set a price on carbon in her next term?

    Not quite. She said she wouldn’t rule it out. The advances of The Greens and her political weakness in the House ruled it in. She abandoned the citizens’ assembly red herring.

    I & U said:

    Howard is gone. He’s not coming back.

    I am aware of that. I was merely answering the question you asked. I’m on record as supporting a few things Howard did. He was right on the gun buy back. CFLs wasn’t a bad idea. The concept of a price on CO2, obviously defensible. I supported defending the East Timorese against subversion by anti-independence forces. I had no problem in principle with the levy for Ansett workers. He appointed Ken Henry, who, as it turned out, was a competent bureaucrat.

    I also pointed out some things that Howard did that the ALP was continuing, to their discredit. They weren’t wrong because Howard did them, but of course, Howard did them because they were wrong (by contrast with the other things he did despite them being reasonable). The ALP followed his policy in order to get the same benefits Howard got politically, and thus they were wrong too, but that Howard’s hands were on it made that easier to see.

  69. Incurious & Unread


    “What’s with the Howard obsession?”

    That is what I am trying to understand.

  70. tigtog


    Silkworm – Feeney wanted to preserve the “right” of the Christian celebrant to refuse to conduct the wedding.

    So are you saying that religions that don’t recognize same-sex relationships as valid should be compelled to perform weddings for such couples?

    I don’t know what Silkworm is saying, but I reckon Feeney was beating up a straw man. Ministers of religion are already allowed a great deal of exemption from the provisions of the Anti-Discrimination act when it concerns conflicts with the teachings of their church. They are allowed to refuse point-blank on the grounds of certain doctrines, and tend to get away with providing a hostile environment for those they just don’t deem sufficiently committed. The most common method is simply having onerous criteria to satisfy – attending a formal marriage counselling program which might meet every week for months, becoming regular members of the congregation (e.g. attending at least every second week). The extremely conservative evangelical (now-retired) Anglican minister at the nearest church to me had a policy of only using the version of the wedding service where the bride promises to obey, which meant that almost nobody agreed to be married by him at all (two weddings in 15 years).

    Civil Marriage Celebrants have to abide fully by the provisions of the Anti-Discrimination Act (alongside the Marriage Act, the Immigration Act, and the Competition and Consumer Act (ex Trade Practices Act)), for contrast.

  71. Fascinated

    [email protected]
    The process through the reps and Senate will probably see proposals of amendment. An amendment such as the protected right for religious not to conduct ceremonies that dont accord with their pqrticular Churches policies is probably reasonable, is obviousoly expected by the ALP right, and may carry the day in the Senate. Mark Butler’s recent contribution alluded to same. It ensures sensibilitie are considered. An amendment such as this would be considered fair and in truth, doesnt need an ALP platform formalisation.
    I suggest that a possible other, more flammable amendment might emerge, and that the religous groups may find tougher to concede. That is a probable proposal that Australia follow the French civic code and require (as Amanda Vanstone interestingly suggested today) that ALL marriages requiring recognition by the state, be conducted in the first instance by law in a civil (Registry Office) setting with the option to have an addtional religious/other ceremony thereafter. Eminently sensible approach for the non religious amongst us and a boon to Stae Govts and wedding planners everywhere. Its a no brainer but does ‘tear down” the influence of the Churches and especially its influence on the ALP and LNP right – expect a battle on this one. The Pells, Jensens and Marians of this world will bne outraged and not give up without a fight. I hope they lose.

  72. Ginja

    sg: great points.

    Labor’s lost a lot of bark this year (thankfully the polls don’t seem as dire as they were), but progressives really should give Labor a break. After all, can any of us under 40 remember a government that was as progressive as this one?

    Remember: Obama has capitulated on a carbon price while Julia Gillard got one through Parliament.

    Hopefully, Labor will have a chance to strip back the egregious upper-class welfare of the Howard Government in the new year.

    In any event, our PM’s the Iron Ranga as far as I’m concerned.

  73. su

    NickWs — How is Gillard flipping the switch on multilateralism? I seem to be missing something. The waiver granted to India was granted by all 40 + member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group – doesn’t that count as a multilateral agreement to remove barriers to the supply of resources and technology to India?

  74. sg

    akn (and Nickws backing it up):

    I don’t ‘believe’ in parties or politicians ability to do what they say they will do except under circumstances where it is in their personal or political interests to do so.

    so why do you think the Greens forced Gillard to do anything? Your argument is fundamentally contradictory. If you admit that the Greens can act out of ideological fervor, so can the ALP. Do you seriously think Abbot would adopt gay marriage with a newfound fervour if he thought it would advance his cause? Do you really believe Howard’s support of Iraq (against public opinion) was pure bloody-mindedness?

    No, all three parties have principles. That Gillard’s don’t match yours doesn’t mean they need to be explained in terms of naked self interest. You need a better model.

  75. akn

    sg, you’re over heating.

    What the Greens do is in their political interests in so far as they have made public commitments to pursue policies and actions. I don’t think that the Greens act out of ‘ideological fervour’ at all. I reckon their analysis is pretty cool headed and so are their actions so far.

    You ask a rhetorical question of me in relation to Tony Abbot to which the only reasonable answer is that I don’t know and I don’t care. The man’s clearly a lunatic.

    Howard’s commitment of our military to Iraq was the act of a sycophant albeit one with the executive authority to engage in an unjustified war. He played the khaki card well and to good effect and that was in his political interests. Do you believe that Howard acted on some other basis? Like principles?

    Oh, you do:

    …all three parties have principles

    I’d try to engage with you about the nature of political parties but the subject, as you present it, is just too global to allow a response.

  76. alfred venison

    dear anyone
    for your information it was recently decided (this month) in a bc court that canada’s law against polygamy is constitutional. so, the charter of rights allows for same sex marriage & the protection of churches from being forced to marry same sex couples. also, the charter of rights does not pave the way for mass polygamy.
    from cbc:-
    from new york times:-
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  77. akn

    Good info alfred venison. The reactionary response to equal marriage rights really is to argue that it is the end of civilisation as we know it. As it is it is only the end of their cultural authority and what a relief that is.

  78. alfred venison

    dear akn
    i’m not stalking you here, but i stumbled across this last night looking at vinyl transcriptions and thought of you:-
    i haven’t heard either yet (heavy subjects, eh) but i’ve always been enthralled by the musicians james spaulding & ron carter. i’m kind of embarrassed to say that rosko is sort of new to me though there’s a faint resonance in memory at the sound of his name.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  79. Fran Barlow

    sg said:

    all three parties have principles. That Gillard’s don’t match yours doesn’t mean they need to be explained in terms of naked self interest.

    I don’t entirely disagree but the specification “principles” needs a little unpacking here. Firstly, and most obviously with the majors, there is a robust dialog between what most would call principles and what most would call marketing. The majors are driven to tailor not merely their messaging but the substance of their ‘principles’ to the need to neutralise perceived marketing weaknesses, in order to be able to advance what is left of them and translate this into policy. This is such a fundamental feature of their politics that it’s hard to escape the view that for them the medium is the message (to borrow from McLuhan). It’s a principle to do what ever it takes to improve one’s electoral chances. Years of operation in this way have elevated this principle over all others. While both parties have, over the years, taken electoral risks in pursuit of other principles it’s hard to recall an instance in which either of the majors favoured other principles to electoral marketing. Sometimes of course, infighting realises that goal de-facto — and the fight within the NSW ALP over power privatisation would be an example. Interestingly, the NSW Liberals refused to back Iemma, even though privatisation would have been one of their principles, and might even have driven the wedge more deeply into the ALP, mainly because many of their own supporters weren’t all that keen. Whitlam’s government may well be the last example of a regime that persistently preferred what most call principle over electoral marketing (a.k.a naked self-interest). Doubtless that accounts for much of its hallowed status within the left and the unalloyed hatred for the regime by the right, including whole swathes of the ALP right.

    I’m reminded of that quote from Marx — Groucho not Karl — you don’t like my principles? I have others.

  80. Chris

    alfred @ 76 – I don’t see any particularly good reasons that polyamory should be illegal. Refusing to legally recognise relationships doesn’t stop people from in practice living in them – it’d be better for everyone if they had the same legal protections and rights as married couples. But I’m guessing there’s a few years more waiting for that to happen!

    akn @ 77 – I don’t see how polygamy would be the end of civilisation!

  81. wilful

    what’s wrong with polygamy and polyandry, between consenting adults. Sure, historically it hasn’t worked out too well, a lot of social baggage there, but in principle, what’s the objection?

    Of course, my final view is that the simplest and best thing to do would be to repeal the Marriage Act, remove the State from this sphere entirely, give everyone the rights and responsibilities that de factos have.

  82. Sam

    “What’s with the Howard obsession?”

    Howard himself is gone, but his love child is the Leader of the Opposition, so Howardism remains with us.

  83. dexitroboper

    would be to repeal the Marriage Act, remove the State from this sphere entirely, give everyone the rights and responsibilities that de factos have.

    Wouldn’t this just change the name from the Marriage Act to The Domestic Partnership Act? The state can’t get out of this because the state is involved in recognising who is in a relationship for purposes of childrearing, inheritance, joint property, etc. etc.

  84. akn

    wilful: no, polyandry wouldn’t be the end of civilisation for me either. In fact, it might even be the beginning of something big. Heaven knows the orthodox hetero-pairing is overburdened with expectation and undersupplied with intersubjective skills.

    This is the real leftie plot behind the equal marriage rights movement – a Marcusian sexual revolt where the libidinal energies and vital bodily juices currently repressed in the name of industrial consumerist culture are liberated. Global peace and a whole new, non-coercive, non-exploitative attitude to global solidarity expressed through total global eroticisation of the life world. A planetary fuck fest.

    It’s not that I have any residual hankering for the verities my youth or the hippie project: it is that I remain convinced that you and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xat1GVnl8-k) and that I remain an ape man (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEep67akIn4).

  85. akn

    …and Chris @ 80.

  86. wilful


    Family Court. Sure doesn’t require a marriage to work that one out.


    ever heard of wills? Easy to fix.

    >joint property

    recognised domestic relationships from shared accounts or assets or whatever. Contract law.

  87. Ginja

    Polygamy is the straw man in this debate.

    I don’t know of any group that supports it. Although Muslims are permitted to practice polygamy, it’s fairly rare in Muslim society (and there’s no push by Muslims to allow it in this country). Even Mormons shun the practice.

  88. Ginja

    P.S. I’d add that one of the advantages that comes about from recognising same-sex relationships is that gay couples are subject to the advantages and disadvantages that come with coupledom.

    It’s a matter of equity for the rest of the community. For instance, I understand it means gay couples are subject to the same eligibility criteria as heterosexual couples for Centrelink payments.

    The gay community deserves a great deal of credit for its willingness to sacrifice a great deal financially for formal recognition.

  89. Kim
  90. Tim Macknay

    alfred @ 76 – I don’t see any particularly good reasons that polyamory should be illegal.

    It isn’t. You can be as polyamorous as you like. It’s polygamy that’s illegal.

    what’s wrong with polygamy and polyandry, between consenting adults

    Why the redundancy? Polyandry is polygamy.


  91. sg

    akn, this

    What the Greens do is in their political interests in so far as they have made public commitments to pursue policies and actions.

    Is vaguely ridiculous. Why did they make the particular commitments they did? If Bob Brown was acting out of electoral self interest, surely he would have formed a racist stop-the-boats party? You’ll tie yourself up in knots trying to explain their behavior.

    The real example of cold electoral self-interest in all of this is Abbot’s approach to AGW. We all know he thinks it’s “crap” but he knows the electorate don’t agree with him so he’s willing to present a fig-leaf policy to try and nullify the problem electorally, while he opposes any genuine efforts politically. Like Howard with biofuels. But when Abbot acts on sexuality- and “family”- related issues you know he’s acting on principle.

  92. tssk

    Ginka, gay couples have always been recognised by Centrelink. Because if Centrelink decided you were sleeping with your flatmate they could cut your payments.

    I had a devil of a time in the 90’s trying to convince Centrelink I wasn’t sleeping with my male flatmate despite the fact we had seperate bedrooms and I didn’t identify as gay. There’s been loads of case where Centrelink has docked payments because of things like that. They even sent someone around to my flat to go through my stuff.

    As for the slippery slope polygamy arguement, thanks to Pure Poison I’ve got enough ammo to shoot that down. It’s not anywhere near comparable to gay marriage in terms of complexity.

  93. akn

    As a stylistic matter sg if you could hold on the rhetorical questions and put more of your own point of view the prospect of drafting a response wouldn’t be as daunting a major undertaking as it is.

    In response then: are you seriously suggesting that Abbot’s views “on sexuality- and “family”- related issues” is principled? I don’t know whose company you keep to make Abbot look like a principled person but really, I think you need to make some changes in your life.

  94. Incurious & Unread


    As with metaphors, so it is with rhetorical questions. You dislike them but cannot help using them.

  95. akn

    Ah, I&U, I’m ok with both metaphors and rhetorical questions so long as I don’t have to untangle the linguistic jungle of someone else’s use of them. If the metaphors are indirect and muddied and the rhetorical questions are too profuse then it feels like clearing lantana – hard and dirty work with a high likelihood that it’ll just regrow.

    As it is this thread has convinced me to adopt a stance of neo-Marcusian support for polyandry and associated rights to recognition of polygamous intimate relations. Only reasonable and fair.

  96. Ootz

    @89. That is the same Jim Wallace that was back in 2003 itching for us to go to Iraq“I think that we would see a relatively short war.”. That man is a walking disgrace.

  97. Ginja

    I wasn’t aware of tssk. I was under the impression that these sorts of changes only came about with the discrimination Labor has removed from many government departments since coming to power.

  98. Ginja

    missed a “that” in there somewhere.

  99. sg

    akn, they aren’t rhetorical questions. You’re attempting to lay out a model of political behavior which constructs people’s principles as being enacted for electoral self-interest. Such a model might explain Hanson’s continual return to the ballot paper, but it doesn’t explain much else. Brown is in politics for reasons of principle, and so is Abbot. Your theory doesn’t explain why anyone would ever do what Brown has done.

    Of course it’s necessary to sort politician’s principles from their opportunism, which is often on display, but you won’t get much ability to sort the two apart if you assume they’re essentially equivalent. You’ll thus never be able to predict when a politician is going to stand against public opinion, and when they’re going to cave. That’s a pretty useless political theory and clearly not the one Gillard prefers.

    Abbot has principles about sex and family-related issues. That you disagree with them doesn’t mean they aren’t principles.

  100. akn

    Talk of principles in the absence of the ethics to which they relate is meaningless. My understanding is that Abbot is a Catholic so whatever principles he claims to abide by would be in some way related to Catholicism. In order to take someone’s “principles” seriously those principles need to be subject to rational scrutiny for their coherence. Moreover, the adherence of the person espousing such principles needs to be testable against the ethics they claim to live by. My view of theistic belief is that it is philosophically incoherent and therefore cannot serve as an adequate base for deriving reasoned ethics. He is unprinciples in ways that he cannot even comprehend.

    No, you say:

    You’re attempting to lay out a model of political behavior which constructs people’s principles as being enacted for electoral self-interest.

    No, I’m not arguing a thesis here or ‘laying out a model’. You have again incorrectly ascribed intentions to posters that simply don’t apply. Further, my comment was descriptive of politicians rather than people in general. I’ve had sufficient dealings with politicians of all stripes to understand that they are distinct from your average citizen. In fact, outside of the academy, I’d reckon that they probably have the highest concentration of personality disorders to be found in any career or vocation. My view that they act in their own interest is based on the very mundane understanding that being in government is preferable to opposition. Political interest and personal interest coincide for a lot of these people.

  101. Andrew E

    “I would like to see more attention paid to the position of the Liberal Party.”

    Labor have been working on this for years and now the Liberals have this sprung on them, having purged the very sorts of people who might have been receptive to it.