Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Advance Australian fairness

A recent Australian poll conducted for Australian Marriage Equality by Galaxy found that 62% of Australians favour marriage equality, and 74% of the voters backing the Australian Labor Party (ALP), the party leading government, also back marriage equality. The ALP, however, continues to oppose it and refuses even to allow a conscience vote on the matter; the Liberal/National Coalition also has failed to advocate a conscience vote.

The problem for Labor politicians is that support for marriage equality—and gay people generally—is strongest in urban electorates and weakest in rural or blue-collar electorates, where moral disapproval of homosexuality runs highest. The parties fight over the marginal seats, ones that don’t have a strong preference for one party or the other and, as Idiot/Savant puts it on the blog “No Right Turn”:
“The study also shows that marginal seats are highly concentrated in areas with between 25 and 34 percent bigots. And it’s these people the ALP leadership are trying to pander to in taking a conservative approach. Rather than standing up for progressive principles, they are instead adopting a ‘small target’ strategy and not giving people a reason to vote against them — with gays as the victims. It’s an utterly despicable strategy, and if the ALP continues with it, they deserve to be rejected by their own base."
I completely agree. The ALP have been cowards on this issue for years, and I wrote about this timidity nearly three years ago. It’s way past time for the ALP to advance Australian fairness.

Update: The ALP is supporting a motion later this week to require MPs and senators to seek their constituents' views on same-sex marriage. The Greens’ Adam Bandt moved a motion to force the house to acknowledge that same-sex marriage exists elsewhere, but this part was dropped from a motion offered by Labor backbencher Stephen Jones.

This is progress, but the curiously conservative ALP has no intention of actually enacting marriage equality, since official party policy is that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Also, this motion may not pass: The ALP relies on independents to govern, and one, Bob Katter, told the media that his constituents were against it, adding for homophobic punch: "If you want to have a relationship you can have it but you can't ask the government of Australia to bless it." Separate and definitely unequal, eh Bobbo?

Update 2, 18/11/10: The Green's motion passed—barely—73 votes to 72. The Coaltion, the conservative Opposition, refused to support it, as did the homophobic Bob Katter.

Update 3, 22/11/10: A new Sydney Morning Herald/Nielsen poll has found that 57% of Australians support marriage equality and 37% oppose it, broadly in line with the earlier poll. That same poll found that the ALP is losing support to the Greens, partly because of the ALP's reluctance to advance this issue.


DownUnder Mark said...

Now living in Australia it is bizarre how conservative the ALP is here. The recent election actually means those "safe" inner city seats can't be taken for count as the Greens move into traditional Labor seats.

The failure of the Labor party to offer a progressive voice in Australian politics is certainly one of the reasons the Greens are doing so well in Australia.

I also think the way they pander to the polls is nonsense if you followed the polls nothing progressive would ever happen - it is about a government having the morale courage to do what it is right.

Idiot/Savant said...

as Idiot/Savant puts it on the blog “No Left Turn"

That's No Right Turn. "No Left Turn" is a book by Chris Trotter.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Mark: I think you're right, and the Greens are ultimately a bigger threat to the ALP than to Coalition is. How did all this labour parties—UK, New Zealand, Australia—get forced so far from their core values?

Idiot/Savant: DOH! You'd think I'd get that right, since I'm a regular reader and all. Deepest apologies—it's now fixed.