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November 17th 2017 print

Peter O'Brien

Hypocrisy on Tap

The Yes lobby has focused its victorious ire on Tony Abbott while hailing the windvane likes of Penny Wong. Funny thing that, as it was Abbott who gave Australians the chance to vote against a measure he personally opposes and whose verdict he accepts with a grace they can never match

maskWasn’t it heartwarming to see Senator Penny Wong’s emotion when the announcement of the ‘Yes’ vote brought to an end her long struggle for marriage equality? Sorry, no. The hypocrisy made me nauseous. Here’s part of what I wrote about Wong on this site a little over a year ago:

Back in 2010, Labor’s official policy was to support the traditional definition of marriage. In fact, Labor’s most prominent gay MP, Penny Wong, supported that very policy, saying at the time that there was a “cultural, religious and historical view of marriage being between a man and a woman” and, further, that this traditional definition of the term was worth preserving.

Let’s take Wong at her word, accept that she genuinely held that belief in 2010. If so, we can only conclude that, at some point in the past six years, she has come to accept that times have changed, her former view was wrong, and she is now eager to see implemented that which she formerly opposed. And here is the rub: in her newly acquired and ardent support of the rainbow crowd’s marriage agenda, she endorses the view of its loud and more emotional advocates that anyone who opposes same-sex marriage must be, by definition, a hateful and homophobic bigot.

When Wong examines her conscience — allowing that such periods of quiet reflection punctuate her busy schedule of ABC appearances — does it occur to her that she is herself the very model of subjectivism and intolerance.  After all, just six yeas ago she opposed gay marriage.  Now, having followed her own road to Damascus, she denies others the indulgence of the time in which to mull the issues and change their minds. There is one rule for Ms Wong, apparently, and quite another for everyone else.

Now let’s assume the more likely interpretation: Wong did not really believe her own words and was merely playing the political game when she was prepared to sacrifice same-sex marriage on the altar of her career.  In this case, isn’t it hypocrisy on steroids for Wong to expect others, by which I mean those whose opposition to same-sex marriage is based on firm religious or secular conviction (for example, Tony Abbott and Cory Bernardi) to abandon their beliefs just because it now suits Wong’s political and personal convenience to belatedly acknowledge her own?

Of course, where same-sex marriage is concerned there’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around. While Wong takes the cake, a close runner-up is, of course, our pro tem Prime Minister who, according to The Australian:

…..claimed vindication for the postal survey which was bitterly opposed by his political opponents and some Coalition MPs.

“I guess it wouldn’t have happened without my pushing. There was a lot of opposition to having this survey. Crossbenchers, the Labor Party, even people on my own side that didn’t want to have it,” Mr Turnbull said.

Here’s Turnbull back in August, 2015:

“The reason I haven’t advocated a plebiscite after the next election is that it will mean that this issue is a live issue all the way up to the next election and, indeed, at the next election,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

Mr Turnbull said a free vote on the issue was “consistent with Liberal Party tradition”.

“One of the attractions of a free vote is that it would have meant the matter would be resolved in this parliament, one way or another, in a couple of weeks,” he said.

Turnbull was dragged kicking and screaming to support the plebiscite as one condition of continuing support for his failing prime ministership. Not exactly hypocrisy, but here’s Caroline Overington, also in The Australian, feeding the Turnbull myth:

Turnbull promised to take the same-sex issue to the public, and he faced raging opposition at every turn, from his own party, and from the other side.

Tony Abbott rose up like ghost of the party-poopers-past and threatened merry hell with the process, saying it wasn’t about marriage, it was about political correctness and so on, all designed to torpedo the thing.

Abbott has an honestly held belief, a religious conviction, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that’s fair enough. But let’s not pretend that he also doesn’t enjoy playing havoc with Turnbull’s prime ministership.

By the way, Caroline, it was Abbott’s idea in the first place, and it wasn’t formulated with an eye to delaying or frustrating the process but as a way forward for him to allow a conscience vote without, at the same time, alienating his conservative colleagues. Those conservatives, incidentally, were far more staunch in their convictions than Penny Wong.

And let’s not forget Bill Shorten, whose triumphalism might have been more justified had he stuck to his original line where, as recently as 2013, he told an Australian Christian Lobby forum he was:

“… completely relaxed about having some form of plebiscite on same-sex marriage.   I would rather the people of Aust­ralia could make their view clear on this than leaving this issue to 150 people.”

Then there are the multitude of commentators from both sides, who, singing from the I’ll Ride With You songsheet, maintain that the only ugliness in the debate came from a few social media fringe dwellers on both sides.  That is patently false.  SSM advocates were active from the word go in harassing and intimidating the No campaign.

And let’s not forget the SSM lobby itself, which could have had the result it wanted over a year ago had they not preferred to go on the offensive rather than concede an inch and avoid giving any possible credit to the Coalition.

So is there anyone in this whole process untainted by the charge of hypocrisy?  Well, how about Tony Abbott? Clearly no homophobe, he steadfastly maintained his opposition to same-sex marriage while simultaneously putting in place the democratic mechanism by which it has been achieved. Even as an opponent he now graciously accepts that result.  All he wants is to ensure that adequate protections for freedom of speech and religion, demanded by the 40% of No voters, are put in place. Abbott haters such as Niki Savva and Peter Van Onselen will portray this as just another example of his “wrecking” both SSM and Turnbull. They will, of course, ignore the fact that respected former PM John Howard demands the same thing. Howard’s concerns will be presented as misguided but sincere, while those of Abbott will be depicted as the “opportunistic” mouthings of a wrecker.

Hypocrisy, where would our political and media class be without it!

Comments [16]

  1. en passant says:

    Peter,
    Since when did facts evaaa have anything to do with the post-modern, Orwellian, Dark Age Oz that we have returned to?

    Chip, chip, chip. Such an inconsequential thing that has gripped this pathetic nation. As HillBillary would have screamed “What difference does it make? Actually, quite a lot, but most of them unintended.

    Anyway, think of the benefits:

    1. LGBTIQWERTY Gaulieters will now be appointed to throw bigots and opponents of the Heinz-57 shades of gender from high-buildings.
    2. Islamic madrassahs in Oz will now be required to take in LGBTI, Jewish, Christian and atheist students …
    3. Islamic madrassahs in Oz will now be required to teach the ‘Safe Schools’ agenda ….
    4. Now we can start the campaign for every other form of ‘marriage’, can’t we Fido? (See below)
    5. The first lesbian divorce will be absolute hoot as each claims their 60% of the ‘family’ assets.
    6. I guess this means that in future we cannot discriminate against men (one of the traditional genders, you may have heard of) so family assets will now be 50% each (or am I fantasising)?
    7. The Iron Law of Unintended Consequences will now kick-in with …. well, unintended consequences
    8. ‘Mothers’ can no longer be given priority in custody of children divorce battles.
    9. Polygamy (already widely practised in some immigrant ‘no-go’ areas) will now be regularised in law (as we cannot discriminate …)
    10. etc

    I listened to part of an interview on the (spit, choke) the ABC today, but turned it off when in answer to a question about exceptions on religious, ethical, moral or personal grounds the interviewee answered (paraphrased in part): “No, discrimination is discrimination and none of the foregoing should be allowed.”

    Thank goodness I moved to a rational country as the Oz Camelot I knew no longer exists.

    • Warty says:

      I don’t know how rational a country it is where historic tensions between the north and south are obscured by a nominally communist government, but I may be behind the times there.
      Secondly, the thought of your points two and three becoming realised are as likely as my having a sex change, and having seen my neighbour go down the path, the chances of that are nil. The backlash, when it comes is likely to come from the Muslim community. I’d like to see Roz Ward carrying out school inspections in Sydney’s Lakemba, Greenacre and Punchbowl suburbs.

  2. Keith Kennelly says:

    No the backlash is already here.

    It will intensify

    People are pushing back with the rejection of the safe schools programmes.
    And with conservatives pushing for real protections in the disgraceful fake liberal Weatern Australian’s marriage bill.
    Watch that fight. It will really show who was honest and who wasn’t.

    Now as the alphabet colour people come to realise winning the title marriage for their unions still doesn’t confer equality the push to degenderise the children will increase. The legal actions, in the Star Chambers and the courts, against those with the honestly held belief in the traditional marriage will also begin.

    Opposition to these campaigns will increase. That will be the backlash. The argument. will be more vicious than the ‘yes’ campaign. (From the. Alphabet side).

    And only Tony Abbott will be held, by the usual morons, be to blame.

    Eventually the only solution to the entire issue will be the dismantling of the HRC and the abolishing of the Marriage Act.

  3. Lawrie Ayres says:

    I do think the real fight is yet to come. I know when I spoke to some who had voted yes, and mentioned what was likely to occur if the overseas experience was a guide, they would have voted no. The no campaign was stifled and drowned out and with it any publication of the pitfalls to come. As the populace come to realise what the yes vote has unleashed the pushback will see politicians reviewing there firmly held beliefs. Labor stalwarts voting yes when 70 percent of their electorate voted no? That may just set the vile abuse Bill Shorten prophesized on fire.

  4. ianl says:

    I haven’t made a comment on this issue before (as on any Aboriginal issues) and this will be the only one.

    Noted previously is the mathematical innumeracy of most of the population, especially the vainglorious denizens of the meeja. We are told by the ABS that 70% of those eligible to complete and return the postal plebiscite did so and of those 70%, 61% voted YES.

    So, 61% of 70% is 42% (of eligible citizens). That is, almost 60% (58% by ABS figures) of eligible people either voted NO or just didn’t care. It’s clear where the majority resides.

  5. Keith Kennelly says:

    But then ianl

    Only 39% of 70% is 28% (of eligible voters). That means almost 72% voted yes or just didn’t care.

    The don’t care works both ways .

    Hmmmmm

    • Bwana Neusi says:

      I agree with both ianl and you Keith. Statistics can say virtually anything you wish them to say. Add a third perspective to the numbers.

      15.96 million were eligible to cast their vote and of that total 48.93% voted “Yes”, which is not a majority of those eligible.
      You can extrapolate for those who did not vote, but it is just supposition, whichever slant is taken.

      Statistics are marvellous, are they not!

  6. pgang says:

    Australians no longer possess a bullshit detector. This is definitely not the nation I once knew.

    • Peter OBrien says:

      pgang, couldn’t agree more. At every opportunity I tell my 33 year old daughter and her husband ‘don’t believe anything’. I give the same advice, mostly gratuitous, to anyone who’ll listen.

    • Jimbob says:

      I have to agree pgang – the nation has changed very quickly and it’s not for the best. The national shaking of the fists at heaven through the Yes vote won’t end well. It invites a “firestorm”, we just don’t known when.

  7. Aftermath says:

    If we are looking at percentages, the winner in the last US Presidential election won a handsome 57% of the votes that count, that is, the Electoral College votes. The numbers were 304/531. It seems that some people do not like democratic majorities when the election produces the “wrong” result.

  8. Jody says:

    Frankly, this entire SSM debate and vote has sickened me in its hypocrisy. Frances Abbott was happy to criticize her father in public and support her “Aunty Christine” who “can’t help who she falls in love with”. Well, Christine Forster is still bearing her first married name and how conveniently the people – and Frances Abbott – have forgotten that there are 4 children from that union who may not appreciate the sight of their now-lesbian mother prancing about advocating for homosexuality. I would have thought Frances Abbott would show some loyalty to her cousins by shutting up.

    What a strange and uber-selfish society we live in when people talk only about their own needs and forget about those of others close to them. In this case I’m betting those 4 children of the Forster marriage are not one bit impressed by the behaviour of either their mother or Frances Abbott. Who cares about the children? Nobody.