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February 03rd 2016 print

Eric Abetz

Gagging the Opponents of Gay Marriage

Imagine that Australians were asked to vote on capital punishment and came out in favour. As an opponent of the death penalty, must I then vote against my conscience? That simple principle is lost on our partisan media's supporters of same-sex marriage

wedding rings IIWhen even the ABC’s Media Watch acknowledges the huge bias in the reporting related to changing the meaning of marriage, you can be absolutely sure it is happening. Despite this finding, which should have served as a behaviour modifier, the bias continues unabated.

This bias is no better highlighted than the reporting around my comments on the plebiscite over whether we should change the long understood meaning of marriage. To demand all members of Parliament vote to implement the result of a plebiscite is both ham-fisted and anti-democratic. This is especially the case when we

  1. don’t know what the question will be – will it be loaded?
  2. don’t know how the plebiscite will be run ­­– will it be fair?
  3. don’t know if media outlets will allow all sides of the debate to advertise (some have refused the most innocuous of advertisements); and
  4. we don’t know if Archbishop Porteous will be allowed to speak out, given the complaint pending before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission. Will there be freedom of speech?

And so the list of open questions goes on.

And what of this insisting the local MP follow the electorate’s wishes? If Australia votes ‘No’ to changing the definition of marriage, will that mean the Greens and Labor will accept that decison and forever-and-a-day vote against change? Will the ALP change its platform?

What if Australia votes ‘No’ but Tasmania votes ‘Yes’? Or indeed, the other way around. Does one follow the national vote, your State’s vote, or your electorate’s vote (if you are in the House of Representatives?). And anticipating that the vote will not be 100% one way or the other, is it not appropriate that the minority’s voice be given expression in the Parliament?

What if there are members of Parliament who simply cannot vote to change the definition of marriage, our bedrock societal institution? If a plebiscite supported the re-introduction of the death penalty, in all conscience I could not and would not support it. Should I be forced to do so? The electorate may well say, ‘We disagree with you on this, but we will continue to support you.’

The plebiscite on the republic proposal is a classic case in point.  Ironically, Labor’s then-leader, Kim Beazley saw his electorate vote against a republic and Liberal leader John Howard’s voted in favour. Beazley continued to espouse the Republican cause and Howard the Constitutional Monarchist cause in ‘defiance’ of their electorates. Both were re-elected. If a plebiscite should resolve an issue forever for every MP one assumes we should not have heard anymore Republican belly-aching. (We wish).

Having pointed out all of the above I did nevertheless indicate that one could safely assume that the plebiscite result would be of a strong persuasive influence of which the Parliament as a whole would take note. So, all things being equal, I have no doubt that the will of the Australian people will be faithfully implemented by the Parliament.

But to try to lock in every MP on only one side of the debate before we even know the question whilst not requiring the same standard from the other side highlights yet again the regrettable bias which even the ABC has acknowledged.

This latest episode of mis-reporting and misrepresentation does not suggest the Australian people will be given a fair and balanced representation of the issues. No surprise there. They didn’t on the republic either.

Eric Abetz is a Liberal Senator for Tasmania

 

Comments [14]

  1. Ian MacDougall says:

    This latest episode of mis-reporting and misrepresentation does not suggest the Australian people will be given a fair and balanced representation of the issues. No surprise there. They didn’t on the republic either.

    Well, Eric; John Howard made sure of that by loading the question in the first republic referendum in favour of the outcome he personally wanted. The rest of us got a dud choice.

    • PT says:

      Loading the question! I’m sick of this lie. Turncoat started this slander/spin when he realised that despite universal media support (Paul Kelly even gave out republican stickers with his paper) the polls suggested that he’d fail. Turncoat did this as damage control, and to cover up his failure. What was the “trick”? They mentioned the Queen? Yes, can’t say it’s trying to replace the Queen. People who may want her to stay Queen may vote NO! Can’t have that! That she’d be replaced by a President appointed by Parliament? Yes, can’t have the great unwashed told that.

      I’m sick of this whinge, particularly given the total republican coverage by the media. Which continues. They can’t grasp that Abbott’s knighthoods where Australian orders, they imagine it was Imperial honours – which would be MBEs, OVEs, etc. Bigoted and ignorants.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        As I recall, the choice J Howard gave us was between a president to be elected by popular vote (as in the US) OR the present arrangement. The first option would have politicised the presidential office (as in the US).
        As I recall, there was no option for a president to be elected by a 2/3 majority of both houses of Federal Parliament, which would have helped keep the presidential office ‘above’ the party politics of the day – as at present with the Queen.
        As I recall, given that choice, I decided to vote for no change.
        Which I am sure is what J Howard wanted.

        They can’t grasp that Abbott’s knighthoods where Australian orders…

        Abbott made himself look a totally inept clown over the umpteenth knighthood for HRH Phil. That torpedoed his whole project: an own goal if ever there was one. And it gave his critics in the media all the ammunition they needed.
        But above all, Abbott fell out of favour with his fellow Coalition MPs. They saw him as an electoral dead duck: which he definitely was, and proving it every time he er… opened his er… mouth to ah… say ah…. something er…. totally er… trite, er…. over-controlled and er…. evasive.
        And I say all this in my capacity as a swinging voter.

        • PT says:

          Well your “recall” is about as good as your understanding of the resources industry – clueless. Howard didn’t make the choice. There was that “constitutional convention” (remember that?). This put up that 2/3 parliament option – the so-called “minimalist” position allegedly backed by Labor and Turncoat. In fact, it was Turncoat who proposed it. The squealing was from those who wanted a “direct election” and a more muted whinge from those who noted that such a “President” could sack the government in the same way Kerr did. If you can’t even get that right, please don’t buy into the discussion!

          In the circumstances, the Prince Phillip knighthood was ill conceived, since the issue of “Knight of the Order of Australia” was being re-established. Doesn’t change the fact the media got it wrong that they aren’t Imperial Honours. But it wasn’t what brought Abbott down anyway. In fact his government underwent something of a recovery over the next few months before it stalled. Turncoat may not say “er” an “um” but he is a waffler, and won’t look anywhere near as good when confronted with a non-obsequious interviewer.

          • Ian MacDougall says:

            PT: Your rant is noted.
            Your mining-industry-centred viewpoint appear to me to be complicated by a sense of extreme urgency: unless the mining magnates dig up all those minerals and ship them overseas ASAP, we are all economically shunted.
            I disagree, simply because all those minerals are not declining in terms of their industrial usefulness: though I can see if one were to look at the national situation with the shortest of myopic views it might appear different. My suggested remedy is repetition of the following mantra: ‘Second Law of Thermodynamics.’

            In the circumstances, the Prince Phillip knighthood was ill conceived, since the issue of “Knight of the Order of Australia” was being re-established.

            It appears that point was lost on ‘Howard’s battlers’ out there west of Bankstown, who are not exactly noted as students of heraldry, vexillology, Burke’s Peerage and the rest of that stuff. But it was not lost on the pollies of the Liberal Party. The latter are inclined to keep enough straws in the wind as to amount to an airborne haystack, and they did not like the feedback they were getting. So the wheels fell smartly off Abbott’s wagon; his ship ran aground, with rats jumping off it all over the place, and all his chooks died. In the political sense, of course. (I can’t talk about those he keeps in his back yard.)

    • Robert Parry says:

      If we keep to the fundamentals we may get a different answer to the same sex marriage question than we do if we “get lost in the detail”. Fundamentally, there are three types of civil union relationship under consideration of being legally recognized. 1. Between a man and a woman. 2 Between a woman and a woman. 3 between a man and a man. (There could be a fourth if consideration were given to the man who wants a legal union between himself and his horse, dog or whatever. Don’t laugh there are people out there who want this to happen).
      The word marriage is a definition of the civil legal union between a man and a woman. To include the relationship between a woman and a woman or a man and a man, is to change the very definition of the word “marriage” and make its current definition immediately meaningless to all. The word wedding is not a definition but a description of an event and can therefore be applied to all groups without losing any meaning.
      As we have a definition of the civil legal relationship between a man and a woman, we need to consider what word defines the civil union between a woman and a woman and what word defines the civil union between a man and a man.

  2. Wayne says:

    I’ve read that Abbott and others have said that Parliament would have to abide by a yes vote but there has been no such commitment if the vote is no.

    • Real Oz says:

      Wayne this is a good point you raise. I have assumed that the Govt is bound by the RESULT of the plebiscite but on reading your comment it came to me that indeed I have only read about the Govt being beholden to a YES vote.
      This and much more (like compulsory voting) on the plebiscite must be made public if this nonsense on SSS is to continue.

  3. Bran Dee says:

    Normally Ian it is the Left side that produces the clever albeit self serving slogans – ‘marriage equality’, ‘our own head of state’,and remember ’18 year olds can die for their country but can’t vote’. That last emotive bleat during the Vietnam War saw the voting age reduced from 21 to 18. Now the Left wants to drop the voting age further to 16 and I wonder why? How far would they go in the quest for power when they follow the limitless ‘whatever it takes’?

    Eric Arbetz is correct in nailing the role of ‘the partisan media’ in pushing the same-sex marriage agenda. He mentions the role of the ABC without acknowledging the Abbott government of which he was on the front bench failed to reform that one billion per annum state sponsored revolutionary cell. Even the more assertive Howard government failed to achieve reform of the ABC. But now the government must,repeat must, cut spending so to highlight that imperative the ABC is cut in half. The city centric half is then only available through subscription but the regional/rural directed half [still available in the cities] is taxpayer funded with some advertising.
    Let the turnbull government run with that.

    • Real Oz says:

      “one billion per annum state sponsored revolutionary cell.”
      Could you agree to the inclusion of “perfidious” in your otherwise perfect description of THEIR ABC?

  4. Bill Martin says:

    “Marriage equality” is a typically dishonest expression, a stock-in-trade tool of the left. Every adult in Australia has the unrestricted equal right to marry any other adult of the opposite sex by mutual consent. There are no restrictions whatsoever. What is that if not absolute “Marriage equality”?