The politics of marriage

While Australia had a uniform Marriage Act from 1961 until 2004, there was nothing specific (except for common law) that prohibited marriage of two people of the same gender. The requirement that marriage was between a man and woman was only inserted into the act by the Howard Government. The government at the time claimed the change was to clarify the term ‘marriage’. The 2004 amendments were introduced in the final two sitting weeks of parliament and only a few months after the UK introduced its Civil Partnership Act. The Australian amendments were supported (nominally at least) by all political parties except the Democrats and the Greens.

During 2009, the Rudd government legislated changes to allow ‘civil unions’ to be recognised for all couples (regardless of the partner’s gender) as well as formally recognising rights for de-facto couples. Something like 85 pieces of legislation were changed to allow this to happen.

In February 2012, Fairfax Media reported that two thirds of Australians were in favour of same-sex marriage. By July 2014, there was 72% support. Greens Senator Hanson-Young has had a bill before parliament since 2010 and there have been various attempts to change the law since.

On 1 June 2015, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten introduced a private members bill into the House of Representatives that would delete the words inserted by the Howard government’s 2004 amendment to the Marriage Act as well as other sections that prohibited marriage equality or similar marriages solemnised overseas being recognised in Australia. Despite the lack of government members in the House at the time, the bill was shunted off to a committee. Tony Abbott’s response is that while marriage equality may be considered by the government in time, it is currently more important to pass the budget measures. In the same week, according to The Saturday Paper, Abbott himself is attempting to change the discussion to yet another ’national security’ debate:
First we got senior diplomat Greg Moriarty appointed to the newly created position of national counterterrorism co-ordinator. (Sherlock fans, I regret to inform you that Moriarty bears much more resemblance to Mycroft than to his evil namesake.) Justice Minister Michael Keenan got the new title of minister assisting the prime minister on counterterrorism, and then Philip Ruddock and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells got new posts aimed at tackling radicalisation.
Being fair to the Abbott government, it has spent considerable time both inside and outside parliament urging the ALP to allow the small business measures associated with the 2015 budget to pass — and to be fair to the ALP, passing the small business measures is something the ALP always said it would do. On 3 June, Shorten moved a motion, to a lower house almost empty of government members, to pass the small business legislation immediately. The government voted against it:
"Let us pass this bill straight away," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Monday.

"Let's get it through this place in a hurry," Small Business Minister Bruce Billson said last week.

On Wednesday, Mr Shorten obliged.

The government seen voting against putting their own small business budget measures to an immediate vote.

"We are not going to delay this legislation for one minute longer," he told the House of Representatives and then put forward a parliamentary procedure that if approved would allow an immediate vote.

The government opposed Labor's motion so it failed by 47 to 77 votes.

The leader of the house Christopher Pyne immediately decried the incident as a stunt, because the Senate is in estimates and not sitting this week.

"Labor are a joke. Ending the debate on small business won't get the bills to the Senate any faster – the Senate isn't in session!" he tweeted.

"So why the calls for Labor to get out of the way in such urgent tones," Labor backbencher Joanne Ryan immediately responded.

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson released a statement describing the spectacle as a "another pointless piece of politics by Labor".

Speaking at a media conference in the Canberra suburb of Dickson a short time later, Mr Shorten said: "If they're in such a hurry to help small business, why were they so slow today?"

"I think the government's got some explaining to do," he said.

In question time on Wednesday, Labor pursued the Prime Minister, asking why his government had voted against passing its small business bills straight away.

Mr Abbott said the Senate was not sitting.

"What we saw from the opposition this morning was yet another childish stunt from the Labor Party, an attempt by the Labor Party to deny 11 Labor members and 31 Coalition members the right to speak on this bill and ensure that they were able to demonstrate their support for the small businesses of Australia," Mr Abbott said.
Stunt? — yup, it probably was. It is pretty amusing that on Wednesday the government is voting against something it was calling on the opposition to pass on Monday and Tuesday. It seems that there is an alternate agenda within the government: probably something to do with a number of government members getting a speech into the Hansard appealing to a part of the LNP’s core support base — small business. Getting and keeping the front page free of the budget (after the 2014 fiasco) also reduces the risk of adverse polling for Abbott and his government — which could be construed as keeping Abbott in a job.

Chris Berg, writing on the ABC’s ‘The Drum’ website suggests
The budget was delivered on Tuesday, May 12. National security week was launched on Monday, May 25. That's 13 days. Really just 12, if you factor in the budget lockup and newspaper print deadlines.

This quick hop from economics to security is indicative of a broader problem with the Abbott government's populist push. It knows it doesn't want to be unpopular. But it's not sure what it wants to be popular about.

The 2015 budget is nothing like the political catastrophe that the 2014 budget was. If anything it has been well received. Everybody likes the accelerated depreciation changes for small business. The fiscal reckoning has been postponed, and nobody but sticklers, obsessives and economists could object to that.
Clearly, changes to the Marriage Act don’t figure prominently in the Abbott government’s agenda. This fits with Abbott’s public pronouncements in the past, as well as the public pronouncements of other ‘well known’ government members such as Concetta Fierravanti-Wells who was recently interviewed on ABC’s PM radio program:
Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells was recently given the job, in harness with Philip Ruddock, of inquiring into tough new citizenship laws.

Today, she says allowing a conscience vote on same sex marriage would be a "cop out".

Senator Fierravanti-Wells says it could lead to a fracture between the Liberal Party's base and its parliamentary wing.

She spoke to James Glenday.

CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I don't believe that this issue is a conscience issue. It's not a life or death issue, which has traditionally been the purview of conscience votes.
Thirty seven of the USA’s fifty states already allow marriage equality— although North Carolina is currently involved in a political intrigue that would surpass Game of Thrones to allow magistrates to choose only to marry those who fit their particular moral and/or religious beliefs. As the New Yorker discusses in this article, the proposed law — that was vetoed by the Republican (conservative) governor in spite of his personal support — is demonstrating signs of having the governor’s veto vetoed by the legislature! The (possibly) unintended consequence is that there could be the re-instatement of the long overturned ban on couples of mixed ethnic backgrounds marrying each other — despite the marriage being that of the seemingly all important man and woman — if the particular magistrate doesn’t approve. Apparently the US Supreme Court is currently deciding if equality in marriage will be legal in all fifty states, which may overrule the North Carolina brouhaha in any case.

Other countries, including New Zealand and Ireland, have allowed marriage equality over the past few years. In Ireland, a traditionally Catholic country, it was put to a referendum during May 2015 and 62.1% of the voters approved the change. Ireland’s parliament now will introduce the necessary legislation by the end of the year.

Reaction to the Irish referendum was generally positive around the world. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported:
Political analysts who have covered Irish referendums for decades agreed that Saturday's results mark a stunning generational shift from the 1980s, when voters still firmly backed Catholic Church teachings and overwhelmingly voted against abortion and divorce.

"We're in a new country," said political analyst Sean Donnelly, who called the result "a tidal wave" that has produced pro-gay marriage majorities in even the most traditionally conservative rural corners of Ireland.
Politicians live and die in Australia at the whim of polling data. Just ask John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. Unless there is a significant problem with the data in a number of surveys, there seems to be a significant level of support for marriage equality in Australia — despite the protestations of various members of parliament (from both major parties). So what is the problem here: is it that both sides of politics are scared of making the change, or are they attempting to differentiate themselves and lose the vote from the unaligned voter?

Shorten knows very well that his private members bill will not become law. Hanson-Young’s similar legislation has been sitting on the table since 2010 (when the ALP was in power). A number of political players have advised him that his bill wouldn’t help the process — assuming he does want the changes he has sponsored. Abbott has indicated he is prepared to allow a bi-partisan bill into the parliament for debate. The ‘problem’ with bi-partisan bills is that no political party can ‘take the credit’ for the initiative.

There are LNP members of parliament that have indicated they will co-sponsor a bill with the ALP to make the debate happen. The experience in other countries demonstrates that changes that allow marriage equality do not cause revolution, moral decay, pestilence or any real impact to most people’s lives. Maybe if the polling is correct, both sides of Australian politics should take a reality check and listen to what the public actually want. If Ireland can ask the public and act on public opinion, why can’t Australia?

Ironically Fairfax Media claims that changing the marriage act would cause a $1.2 billion boom to the economy. With the Australian economy almost flat-lining, perhaps it’s the boost we all need.

What do you think?
Apparently focus groups are showing that voters consider this a non-issue, not because they are indifferent, but because they see it as inevitable and just want the government to deal with it and move on. As 2353 points out, politicians are too busy playing games with the issue to listen to the people. As ‘the people’, speak up now and leave a comment.

Next week Ken will take a philosophical look at national security and answer the question ‘Where does Abbott really stand on national security?’. His answer may surprise you.

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21/06/20152353 Thank you again for a stimulating piece. Although focussed on marriage equality, it touches on a more generic issue - opportunistic politics, which shamefully now deeply pervades the federal scene. Gaining an advantage over an opponent, enhancing one's polling position, winning the next election, and rubbing opponents' noses in the dirt, all take precedence over policy initiatives. Even when the initiatives are worthy, winning the political advantage takes the cake. It's the old, old story of self interest always trumping the common good. Instances of this abound. You quote some. Was Bill Shorten's introduction of a private members' bill on marriage equality an attempt to gain an advantage over the government by seeming to "own" the measure; was it an attempt to upstage Abbott; or more crudely, was it, as the LNP insisted, simply a stunt? We will never know how genuine was Shorten's move, but it has been dismissed and neutralised by the Coalition's moves. Another example is the "terrorism" issue. Abbott is determined to wedge Labor on this, knowing as he does that there is substantial community support for removing citizenship of dual nationals who fight with IS, even if by questionable legal means, about which Abbott figures the public don't care whether it's constitutional or not. He wants to brand Labor as "soft on terrorism", and has already accused Labor of "rolling out the red carpet to terrorists" following Mark Dreyfus' comment that removal of citizenship ought to be based on a conviction, presumably in an Australian court. A heavy overlay of sarcastic mocking embellished Abbott's accusation, now echoed faithfully on [i]Lateline[/i] by one of his henchmen. Another example was Bill Shorten's attempt to have the question "put" on the Coalition's small business legislation. Having tried to wedge Labor by insisting it support the legislation, which it said it would anyway, Shorten's move was seen as an attempt to take some of the credit for this popular piece of legislation from the "owner", the LNP. So the government voted against passing its own legislation on the grounds that it would deprive members of talking on the matter and having their support recorded in Hansard, which they could then parade in their electorates. That may be a legitimate response, but it looks like opportunist politics. Even seasoned journalists are despairing. Barrie Cassidy, writing in [i]The Drum[/i] in [i]Just when you thought politics couldn't sink lower[/i], began: '[i]We already knew long before this week that there was a crisis of politics over policy. But even allowing for that, this week in Canberra was one that surely drove voters to new depths of despair... 'We already knew long before this week that Australia's political system was dysfunctional; that there was a crisis of politics over policy; and that the major parties were locked in such a brutal, self-serving contest that when one emerged a winner over the other, the country was worse for the experience. 'And the public long ago lost faith in the current crop of politicians to do anything about it. 'But even allowing for that, this week in Canberra was one that surely drove voters to new depths of despair.[/i]' You can read all the nauseating details here: Peter van Onselen wrote in similar vein in [i]The Weekend Australian[/i], and even Dennis Shanahan had a shot. It is obvious to all who look, that federal politics is in a lamentable state where opportunistic politics trumps good policy day after day, where winning is more important to politicians than improving the lot of ordinary Australians, where hurting your opponent is the supreme outcome, no matter who else gets hurt on the way. Your piece 2353 invites reflection on this, as well as the substantive issues. Who reduced politics to this appalling state is a matter of debate, but many fingers point firmly towards our PM, the self-proclaimed "whirling dervisher". Is it any wonder that last week's [i]Essential Poll[/i] showed that trust in political parties sits at the bottom of the pile of institutions on 19%, and that politicians are the least trusted in the list of professions on 11%? Thank you for inviting us to take a critical, if painful look at our political processes and the people who use them.


21/06/2015I just do not believe the government's claim that it voted against an immediate vote on the tax write-offs for small business because it wanted to allow members to speak on the issue. Yes, on the one hand, it is valid that members be allowed to speak on an issue if they wish but, unlike America, a speech that appears nowhere but in Hansard is of little consequence. In the American media there are numerous reports on the voting record of congressional members - how they voted on different legislation. In our strong party system, how an individual member votes doesn't raise a murmur unless someone has 'crossed the floor' to vote differently to his/her party. So I am firmly of the view that the only reason the LNP didn't allow the vote was because, as Ad said, it would have allowed Labor a degree of ownership of the issue. On the main them, marriage equality, it's a shame that it has been caught up in this game of 'politics'. Abbott clearly doesn't want to see it pass and will find reasons to delay it as long as he can without appearing to be actually against passing it: he will find other issues that are 'more important' - like his current emphasis on budget mesures. And if he can delay it long enough perhaps it will be overtaken by other issues ('stop the boats', 'national security', for example) or, hopefully, will simply 'go away'. It is impossible to trust anything this man says. One has to examine every word for its real meaning and read between the lines to understand what he is avoiding. He has become a master at twisting the agenda, as in the way we are stopping 'boats', not refugees, not people. The way that a 'price on carbon' became a 'tax'. He flogs his words to death until people start changing their mind-set and begin seeing issues in the way he wants them to. Keep a wary eye for what he does with marriage equality if he still does not want to see it happen.


23/06/20152353 Thanks for your latest contribution. Here is some supplementary reading: 1. Labor's same-sex marriage ploy: cynical, naive or just poorly timed? Paula Matthewson. A deftly timed word or action makes the world of difference between a clanger and a killer punch-line; a fumble and a feat of prestidigitation; or a partisan howler and an act of political brilliance.... Which brings us to of Labor's bad political timing: Bill Shorten's private member's bill to legalise same-sex marriage....The proposed legislation must have seemed to the Labor Leader's brains trust like a clever solution....Once Shorten introduces his bill to the will be the Government's prerogative to bring on the debate - or not. Shorten's bill will languish on the books along with other private member's bills.. 2. Same-sex marriage: Bill Shorten to introduce bill to Parliament amid calls to wait for bi-partisan support Melissa Clarke and Dan Conifer. 1 Jun 2015 "Now is the right time." [Shorten said]...But without Coalition support, the matter is expected to be adjourned indefinitely. 3. Analysis: Strategies, motives and agendas behind same-sex marriage vote Chris Uhlmann . 29 May 2015 There is no reason to doubt they [Shorten & Plibersek] both genuinely want change and that they are keen for it to happen as soon as possible, but their political opponents labelled it opportunistic... But it is clear the move does work for Mr Shorten on a number of levels. 4. Same - Same. Andrew Elder. 10 June, 2015 Broad philosophical positioning used to be core business for a political party, now it is outsourced to consultants. If you want to know what it means to be a Liberal in 2015, don't ask Tony Abbott or Julie Bishop or Mike Baird: ask Mark Textor. 5. An ethical case for marriage equality in Australia Liam Miller, April 20, 2015 Little progress has been made on debates about marriage equality in Australia – even though a majority of the population is in favour of it. How might ethical frameworks help us better understand the issues? 6. The battle for middle Ireland and Australia over marriage equality Éidín O'Shea, February 25, 2015 Support for equal marriage rights in Ireland and Australia is remarkably similar: 71% in Ireland and 72% in Australia. The key difference is that Australian politicians are choosing not to listen. 7. The Biggest Consequence of Marriage Equality Trish Corry. June 3, 2015 As a member of a regional community, the research I have completed for this article, includes the harsh reality for LGBTQIA people living in regional, rural and remote communities. Depression, suicide, stigma and abuse are common themes, as is leaving their home town, family and friends to move to a larger, more understanding environment.


23/06/20151. I wouldn’t have moved against Gillard without Shorten’s support: Rudd Michelle Grattan. June 23, 2015 12.01am AEST Rudd says Shorten did not ask for anything in return for his support. “I asked for something,” Rudd told interviewer Sarah Ferguson. “That prior to the election we change the rules of the party to prevent a leadership coup from ever happening again.” 2. The Killing Season: Kevin Rudd all but confirms he was behind leak that damaged Julia Gillard Emma Griffiths. 23 June, 2015 Kevin Rudd has all but confirmed he was behind a damaging leak that revealed a deal to hand over the leadership to Julia Gillard, proposed the night before she launched the infamous 2010 coup. 3. The Killing Season: A timeline of PM Kevin Rudd's downfall A blow by blow account of the toppling of PM Kevin Rudd, in the words of the ALP's key players. 4. Bill Shorten Keeping Close Eye On Bill Shorten As Knifing Speculation Mounts The Shovel. June 19, 2015 Shorten was instrumental in removing both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and is again seen as the key figure in any move against the current leader. “If anyone is going to tell the leader that he no longer enjoys the party’s support, then it has to be Bill,” a Labor insider said.


23/06/2015Thanks for the comments. All of the commentry above points to one thing. Both of the major parties are so far out of touch with reality that they will play politics on any issue in an [usually poor] attempt to gain a 'gotya' on the other side. We elect these turkeys - how do we fix this?


23/06/20152353, Paula Matthewson has picked up on the dearth of leadership talent in her weekly contribution. She discusses the lack of policy nouse and the factional warfare on both sides but does nothing to lift us out of our despair about the present situation or prospects for the future: Don't like the current leaders? Good luck finding real alternatives Opinion Paula Matthewson. 23 June, 2015. When the parties fall down on that responsibility, when they indulge in internecine warfare and factional trade-offs aimed at getting one of their own into the top spot instead of a capable leaders, then we end up with barely competent leaders like the two we're currently saddled with.


23/06/2015*J*U*L*I*A* - freed of the strictures of office- gives voice to her feelings for the Media! Including what she thought of that vile ABC spoof of her and Tim. We will look back on our recent history with abiding shame. We had it all you know.


23/06/20151. Julia Gillard book exclusive: how the bullying, biased media hurts Australia Julia Gillard. 23 June, 2015 Does our love of a contest – in which you get to barrack, have a view, even bet – explain our predisposition for leadership contests in politics? Because let’s face it, we do seem to have such a proclivity, at all levels of politics...Neither the United Kingdom nor Canada, despite having the Westminster system, has seen leadership become such a dominant narrative, prime minister after prime minister, government after government... No easy explanation presents itself as to why we should be so fixated. But the nature of our media market may offer some clues. 2. The weight of history bears down on Shorten Chris Berg. 23 June, 2015 You need boundless self-confidence to seek a career in politics. Often that same self-confidence is the cause of a political downfall. 3. Julia Gillard on the moment that should have killed Tony Abbott's career James Massola. June 23, 2015 - 10:12AM "I really don't know why [endorsing the 'ditch the witch' banner] wasn't a career-ending moment for Tony Abbott – sexism is no better than racism," she says. 4. Inside the ALP's self-destruction Investigation by Peter Hartcher They were the 'yin and yang' of the Labor party. Together, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard had the support of the nation and the party. Divided, their feud would be the undoing of a government. Here we detail the rise and fall of the 2007-2013 Labor government.


23/06/2015Casablanca Thank you as always for a briliant selection of links. Haven't quite gotten through all of them yet (but quite a few) and they add much to 2353's piece and tonight's final episode of The Killing Season. and TT, thanks for your link as well. It is just beyond comprehension that a person like Abbott can rise to be PM of our country.


24/06/20151. Citizenship laws, Q&A, and the anatomy of a fear campaign Michael Bradley. 23 June 2015 What Abbott does understand is the politics of distraction, and he's giving a master class.... To cap off a week of excellent politics for the PM, the ABC gives him the perfect parable of modern politics with the Q&A episode of his dreams...And here we are, all talking about terror again and in varying states of outrage at each other. Feeling scared and angry enough? Not nearly enough for Abbott. More turns of the screw to come. 2. The prime minister should stop trying to scare journalists Sean Kelly. 23 June, 2015 The PM’s attacks on the ABC went too far today 3. Speaker Bronwyn Bishop shutting down question time debate on royal commission: Labor Latika Bourke . June 23, 2015 - 1:50PM A federal Labor MP has hit out Bronwyn Bishop's performance as Speaker, accusing her of shutting down debate about whether it's a breach of convention for the government to use the Parliament to pursue Opposition Leader Bill Shorten over the royal commission into trade unions.


24/06/20151. The Killing Season review: Ferguson's Rudd-Gillard drama one of our great documentaries June 23, 2015 - 9:50PM Michael Lallo The final instalment of Sarah Ferguson's three-part series has now aired on ABC. Quite simply, it is one of the most gripping pieces of factual television broadcast in recent times. Indeed, The Killing Season can already take its place among Australia's finest documentaries.... But the final word goes to strategist Alan Milburn, a former British cabinet minister. "The hard question that the Australian Labor Party has to ask itself is this," he says. "How is it possible that you win an election in November 2007 on the scale that you do, with the goodwill that you have, with the permission that you're gifted by the public – and you managed to lose all that goodwill, to trash the permission, and to find yourself out of office within just six years? I've never seen anything quite like it in my country, anywhere, anytime, in any part of the world. No one can escape blame for that, in my view." 2. Diary of a speechwriter: Scenes from the Rudd years Tim Dixon (former Kevin Rudd speechwriter) 23 June 2015. In politics today, life is lived minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour. A prime minister's staff is endlessly in motion, caught in the crises of the day yet also charged with developing policy and strategy for the long term. As chief speechwriter, and before that as economics adviser, it felt like having to write 3,000 words of Hemingway prose every day while strapped to a rollercoaster.... The challenge working with Kevin is that he tends to create this highly pressured environment that brings anxiety and terseness, rather than creating an environment of hard working enthusiastic cooperation. It leaves lots of people feeling unhappy... 3. Still Governed by Fools John Kelly. June 23, 2015 Three months ago, Laura Tingle wrote a stinging critique of the Abbott government in the Australian Financial Review entitled, ‘Being… The Coalition were swept into power in 2013 on a platform of lies and deception that weren’t even needed. Labor were going to lose anyhow. Not because they governed the country badly, but because they governed themselves in such a reckless and destructive way publicly, defeat was inevitable. The ABC’s The Killing Season has reinforced that view beyond doubt.


24/06/20154. Politics as blood sport: The Killing Season makes the Blair-Brown rift look tame Alastair Campbell The battles between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown seem small beer to the fearsome infighting of Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and the Australian Labor party.... You get the idea. It is great TV, and terrible for politics. In terms of where blame or sympathy lie, it is a bit like watching a tennis match where the momentum swings first one way and then the other. At times Rudd comes over as something of a narcissist, but then a section on climate change or the global financial crisis will give a sense of the political qualities and the acute intelligence that got him to the top. Gillard will in one episode appear as the epitome of the get-things-done, get-on-with anyone loyal deputy, the next as a political killer to match the hardest and the toughest.


24/06/20155. Skivers and strivers: this 200–year–old myth won’t die George Monbiot. 24 June, 2015. Vilification of the unemployed, by the government and the media, has a long and shameful heritage – expect the fallacy that welfare creates poverty to persist.... Kindness is cruelty; cruelty is kindness: this is the core belief of compassionate conservatism. If the state makes excessive provision for the poor, it traps them in a culture of dependency, destroying their self-respect, locking them into unemployment. Cuts and coercion are a moral duty, to be pursued with the holy fervour of inquisitors overseeing an auto da fé.


24/06/2015Casablanca Thank you again for continuing to come up with some great links. The reactions to The Killing season are fascinating. One can only hope its impact dies down before the next election - as it does no favours for Labor (self-inflicted of course, but still no favours).


25/06/2015 What can I say about this new Australia? The 24-hour news cycle has made us crazy. Black is white or any colour at all. Murdoch papers scream that ABC has given publicity to Zaky Mallah while plastering him on their own front pages complete with terrorising pictures which have as much to do with Australian life as a space vehicle on a comet. ABC also had on the same program Steve Ciobo, LNP MHR, who screeched about slitting *J*U*L*I*A*'s throat, and Graeme Morris, who preached kicking her to death. And Bill Shorten lied about his dealings with Rudd before that maggot rolled *J*U*L*I*A*. And it wasn't a small lie, it was about a critical matter, and it has had huge consequences. (He's trying to justify it on @ABCNews24 as I write.) He's LOTO now on the back of that lie. Even after a popular vote for Anthony Albanese, the bloody Right-dominated Caucus overruled us and voted him in. So we have had two liars in a row as Labor leaders now. Shorten, and the slimy Rudd. (Perversely, I don't believe that *J*U*L*I*A* herself ever told a public lie. So she is branded Ju-Liar!) Someone I deeply respect on this site opined not long after Shorten's ascendancy that he was a dud. I have hoped so hard that that was a premature judgment, but as the months have rolled agonisingly by, I have watched in ever-increasing despair as Labor has acquiesced, it seems, to every demand this horrid Government has made. A comment I saw this morning described Shorten as a single limp lettuce leaf on a big plate. For example: The minions of Abborrrtt, the security-insane Fuhrer, let Man Monis through their holey net, and now they have shown their Strike Zone to the Jihadist Enemy lurking in our suburbs ... They're Keystone Cops, except this isn't a comedy. Can you imagine (I'm sure you have) the different scenes there would be were Paul Keating our Leader? I find it so disheartening, Abborrrtt is such a fighting-cock and Shorten is like a headless chook. And now, because of new ALP rules imposed on us by that vindictive maggot Rudd, we can't even hope to roll him. And now he is forever Billy Liar.



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25/06/2015Casablanca Thank you again for yet another informative set of links, which I shall enjoy over the next couple of days. We have been on the road for the last few days from Seventeen Seventy near Bundaberg to where we are now: Trinity Beach north of Cairns, where we will rest for a few days before returning to Cairns prior to a week on Green Island. So I'll use this break from travelling to catch up. With Abbott at the helm of a dysfunctional, internally divided and incompetent government, there is plenty to comment upon, and lots of lurid content is aggregating for the next Sarah Ferguson extravaganza: 'Abbott's Killing Years'.

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25/06/2015Casablanca I am still working through the links you gave us, and enjoying the read. I found the article by George Monbiot especially powerful, showing as it does that entrenched beliefs are almost impossible to change, even after decades, even after centuries. We see this in religious extremism, no less in economic extremism, one aspect of which he describes so starkly. Even in the present era, lwhen there ought to be enlighted thought in economic matters, our national Treasurer, Joe Hockey, echoes the antediluvian sentiments that Monbiot describes. Is he or his sycophants, such as Mathias Cormann, or even his leader, Tony Abbott, capable of learning, capable of change? We know the answer!

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25/06/2015TT Your disappointment is shared. I have always regretted that the Party machine overruled Anthony Albanese as leader. He has guts, and at least is honest! Now we are stuck with the limp lettuce, no match for the viciousness of the mendacious 'whirling dervisher'.


25/06/20151. Steve 'slit her throat' Ciobo Duade Borg 14 June 2013, 8:25am During the interview on Lateline, one of the first things Mr Ciobo claimed was that given the opportunity, Labor MPs would be in a rush to “slit Julia Gillard’s throat”... This disgusting imagery is more than just a metaphor — it is a carefully plotted and articulated attack on the integrity of Labor and particularly the Prime Minister, [Julia Gillard] who has been under sustained violent and sexist attack for over three years now. He knew exactly what he was saying. It made my stomach churn. I was outraged.,5422 2. Q&A: Mark Scott fires back at Tony Abbott, saying ABC is not 'a state broadcaster' Matthew Knott June 25, 2015 - 10:03PM In a passionate speech which could escalate conflict between the ABC and the Abbott government, Mr Scott responded by saying the ABC's independence from government must be jealously guarded. "At times, free speech principles mean giving platforms to those with whom we fundamentally disagree," 3. 'Caught red-handed': How Tony Abbott's national security push is being used for political gain Mark Kenny. June 25, 2015 - 12:05PM The Abbott government has been caught red-handed using national security, our independent police and security agencies, and the fear of terrorism itself, as tools for Liberal Party gain. Once or twice might be contestable, but a clear pattern has emerged revealing a government too ready to stoke community fear and then parlay its "tough" policy responses for its own aggrandisement. 4. ABC 'on the side of Australia', managing director Mark Scott says, amid criticism over Q&A broadcast ABC. 25 June 2015. 11.00pm ABC managing director Mark Scott has defended the national broadcaster as being "on the side of Australia", after Prime Minister Tony Abbott said "heads should roll" over Monday night's Q&A program. 5. Mallah: I stand by what I said on Q&A. Australia needs to hear it Zaky Mallah 23 June 2015 13.18 AEST I don’t support Isis. I am simply standing up for Australians who deserve better than an Islamophobic government intent on weakening the rule of law 6. Zaky Mallah and the bluster and BS from Abbott and his Newscorp drones Martin Hirst. 24 June, 2015 Ignore the feigned outrage of the Abbott gang and their News Corpse cronies over Zaky Mallah's question on Q&A, the real outrage was how bad Steve Ciobo's answer was.,7861 7. Zaky Mallah, Q&A, and the media at its worst Jonathan Green. 25 June 2015. This week in politics and media was a wreck: beginning with Zaky Mallah and the troll casting on Q&A, to the inflated hypocrisy of the tabloid response and the blustering outrage of government.. 8. Retrospectivity or Why "Heads Should Roll" At The ABC Rossleigh. 25 June, 2015 As I flicked through the Murdoch Muckraker this morning, I spied a headline where I had difficulty deciding whether the sub-editor had a sense of irony, or no understanding of ambiguity: TIME TO ACT ON ABC LYNCH MOB Was this a change of heart from Andrew Bolt telling us that we should put a stop to this attack on the ABC’s independence? No, apparently it’s Q & A, that’s the lynch mob, not the media or the government. 9. A letter to Steve Ciobo Colin Price. June 25, 2015 In an open letter to Steve Ciobo (Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs)... In regard to the comments by Mr Zaky Mallah on Monday 22nd June 2015 and the reply by Minister Steve Ciobo on the ABC’s ‘Q&A’ panel program – it was a moronic and ignorant display by the minister, who took Mr Mallah’s comments completely out of context. 10. Turn out that damn light Kaye Lee 24 June 2015 The Abbott government’s hysterical response to a question asked on last Monday’s Q&A is concerning on many levels....Mallah fired back that Mr Ciobo’s comments were the reason young Islamic people were prepared to leave Australia and fight for ISIS. He later tweeted: “I would pay to see that Minister dumped on #ISIS territory in Iraq!” 11. Tony Abbott, Terrorism, And The Politics Of Paranoia Ben Eltham. 25 Jun 2015 The apocalyptic ravings of the Prime Minister will soon have to subside, leaving behind nothing more than a threadbare re-election strategy.... “I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.” Fast-forward to Australia in June 2015. We appear to be having our very own paranoid moment. 12. An Australian Love Story: The Truth Behind Zaky Mallah And The Media Michael Brull. 24 Jun 2015 It's hard to imagine our fourth estate looking anymore ridiculous. Michael Brull nails just about all of them for their part in the rise and rise of a young extremist....Mallah is “on good terms with ASIO and counter-terrorism police. I meet with them regularly, they shout me a coffee, we chat about Syria and national security.” Which is kind of amazing, as we will see. As yet, Abbott and the other Liberals have not commented on ASIO’s relationship with Mallah, and whether they too have committed a “grave error of judgment”. 13. Hands off the ABC: Turnbull should resign his commission Martin Hirst. 25 June 2015, 8:00pm The Abbott Government’s political interference into public broadcasting has just got serious. Very serious. Turnbull has breached his ministerial guidelines with this move, but he’s gloating about it.,7865 14. Government adds its own review to two others on Q&A Michelle Grattan, June 25, 2015 The government has ordered its own inquiry and Tony Abbott has declared "heads should roll" as the row over Q&A escalated after the program was rebroadcast. 15. Mallah caught the ABC bus to Q&A Michelle Grattan, June 25, 2015 Zaky Mallah, the former terrorism suspect at the centre of the Q&A storm, travelled to the studio in a free bus the program puts on to take audience members from Sydney's western suburbs. 16. Hope, anger and courage – or why are conservatives so miserable? Richard Paul Hamilton. June 25, 2015 Without compassion for others and the courage to do something about it, our community is more likely to be mean-spirited and miserable than happy and generous. 17. Q&A is the symbol of High Kevinism and should be interred with Rudd's memory Gray Connolly 25 June 2015 13.57 AEST Q&A, born in Kevin Rudd’s annus horribilis of 2008, outlived the man who bequeathed the show its superficial sombreness and insincerity 18. Q&A To Just Be Tony Abbott Answering His Own Questions The Shovel on June 23, 2015 The ABC’s flagship political discussion program Q&A will now just be Tony Abbott standing in a row of empty audience seats asking questions, before running back to the stage to answer them. Former presenter Tony Jones will be replaced with a flag. 19. Australia Will Run Out Of Flags By 2020 At Current Consumption Rates, Modelling Shows The Shovel, June 25, 2015 The Federal Government today announced a $2.2 billion boost in funding for the flag industry, after analysis revealed Australia could run out of flags entirely within five years if consumption continues at its current rate. 20. Speaker Bronwyn Bishop ejects 400th MP from House of Representatives; Labor raises concerns Eric Tlozek. 25 June, 2015 Labor said Ms Bishop had ejected 393 Labor MPs during her time in the Speaker's chair, but the Liberal MP said she had been justified. "This Parliament only has 150 members but you have a lot of recalcitrant offenders," she said.


26/06/2015Ad & Ken, Thank you for your comments. I saw them only after posting the next lot of articles. Yes, George Monbiot's article was especially powerful and so scary when you fast forward to Abbott/Hockey budgets and policies. TT, Thanks for the reminder about Graeme Morris, who preached kicking *J*U*L*I*A*' to death.


26/06/2015Casablanca, Thanks for the links. I particularly like 'The Shovel' for the ability to create a story that pokes fun but has a deeper message. Bishop (the elder) is also a concern in the Speakers Chair - as discussed in item 20.


27/06/2015US Supreme Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage nationwide in win for gay rights movement ABC. 27 June 2015. The Supreme Court has ruled the US Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry in a historic triumph for the American gay rights movement. The court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. With the ruling, gay marriage will become legal in all 50 states. Peta Credlin Named New ABC News Anchor The Shovel. June 26, 2015 A senior ABC executive said appointing Ms Credlin was a positive step for the national broadcaster, and part of the ABC’s vision to appeal to a broader range of Australian MPs. “I think it’s true that we have become a bit niche. I think it’s true that we’ve been slow to modernise. And I think it’s fair to say we’ve lost sight of what Australian Governments in the 21st Century want from their news”. A Zaky Mallah Q&A fact check. (Video: 3min 36sec) Mike Clay. 26 June 2015 What comments about this week's Q&A are fact and which are fiction? The Q&A scandal is very, very serious. We know because we've been told so Gay Alcorn. 26 June 2015 11.16 AEST Q&A gave Zaky Mallah a free kick, but this frenzied story is really about political mileage for the Abbott government, who want a national security election. Did Tony Abbott actually say that “heads should roll” at the ABC over Q&A program on Monday night? Bless him. And was defence minister Kevin Andrews, one of the dullest men in politics, sending himself up when he declared that he would boycott the show? Did he expect the spontaneous cheers of a grateful nation? In defence of the ABC Mark Scott. 26 June, 2015 The ABC is on the side of Australia. And the part we play is a vital one, central to our culture and our democracy - that of being an independent public broadcaster. Abbott spins tangled web of free speech and editorial judgement Denis Muller, University of Melbourne In all the politicking and government attacks on the ABC for giving a platform to former terror suspect Zaky Mallah, the free speech debate has become confused. In an era of 'rancid partisanship' what hope for real reform? Mike Steketee "In an atmosphere of rancid partisanship, few great national questions can ever satisfactorily be decided.".. Which statesman do you think uttered these words? Abraham Lincoln? Winston Churchill? Or perhaps in a more recent Australian context, Bob Hawke or John Howard? It was Tony Abbott last October, secure in his leadership, talking about big ideas, like reform of the taxation system and of the federation.


27/06/2015Back on the topic of this piece for a tick . . . It is mentioned above the US Supreme Court was currently deciding if same gender marriage was legal in the US - therefore overriding 23 states. Well - overnight they did and it is. Now the US are ahead of us on marriage as well as environmental protection. They they are supposed to be more conservative than we are. Makes you wonder - doesn't it.


27/06/20152353 Yes, fascinating that 'conservatives' overseas can make these decisions but our 'conservatives' can't. In the US, it comes about because of the emphasis they have on individual freedom and is really more in the mould of Leyonhjelm here in Oz. It is that sort of conservative 'liberalism' that can give rise to such decisions - although I did read that the US Supreme Court had previously said that the issue belonged to 'the people', not a Court decision. A lot of the problem is really around the word "marriage" because it has a long religious history. I have been pondering in recent days whether we should get away from the word 'marriage' altogether and just have 'religious unions' (conducted by someone from an established church) and 'civil unions' (conducted by 'marriage celebrants'). Then everyone is in the same boat, regardless of the gender of the couple, and the only issue is finding someone to join the couple in wedlock.


27/06/2015Ken, Good idea - Pyne and Abbott would have conniptions. They don't like the idea of same gender couples expressing to the world their intention to stay as a couple (regardless of the term union or marriage) - they'll go ape at losing the term marriage.


29/06/2015 Australia Not Ready To Join 21st Century Just Yet, Abbott Says The Shovel, June 28, 2015 “I think it is inevitable that Australia will one day join the current century. But my views on this matter are well known. And as I’ve said many times before, it’s not something I’m entirely comfortable with, and it’s certainly not going to be something I lead”.
How many umbrellas are there if I have two in my hand but the wind then blows them away?