The Already Undermined Plebiscite

Quite apart from the fact that Nurturing Justice has already suggested that NJ readers undertake their own research and explore the underlying false premise of the proposed plebiscite, we would also have to come to terms with the manner in which the debate itself is distorted in an ongoing way.

But this is not to say that we are advocating a political approach in which it is left to “parliamentarians” to vote on the matter. According to our constitution, parliamentarians are not the delegates of party elites, but are the representatives of electors and the senators representing states. And further, the parliamentarians sitting in the Federal Parliament can hardly represent their electors on this matter when their parties have consistently failed to enunciate a comprehensive policy platform about marriage, family and household.

But now, note the transition that is taking, if not already has taken, place: if we are to have a plebiscite then there are significant political forces in the land who have signalled they are (for a variety of reasons) opposed to the enabling legislation.

Therefore, as we now look forward to the plebiscite, at least to the “NO” vote (to “same-sex marriage”) that is expected from that ballot, we find that it is  fused (if not confused) with the Parliamentary “NOE” to the enabling legislation.

So, Mr Turnbull must now be wondering that if, somehow, the legislation ever gets through we would then have a confused debate within the context of the YES/NO plebiscite because there will also be a voice saying that the plebiscite is the wrong political path to have taken. Will this not mean that the plebiscite’s “NO” will be joined by those who, prior to the plebiscite, agree with the parliamentary “NOE”.

Keep in mind – if you can – that I am trying to discuss how things stand NOW, and how certain AYE/NOE (in parliament) and YES/NO (in a plebiscite) are seen with this present vocal opposition to the Government’s proposals.

In other words, what we NOW have is an expectation (albeit as yet unrealised) that a plebiscite “NO” will include within it a “no-to-a-plebiscite”. And so there is NOW an implicit commitment to maintain a (albeit undisclosed) commitment to the unsubstantiated political principle  enunciated by the High Court in 2013 that it lies within the responsibility of the nation’s Federal Parliament to not only restrict legislative recognition of marriage to uncoerced, male-female, publicly vowed unions for life, but to legislate redefinition of what marriage is in order to reassign what is not a marriage to come under the Marriage Act’s definition.

But, as we have pointed out, the remarkable thing here is that the Labor and Green opposition to a plebiscite presupposes the cumulative political tradition of a lack of ongoing political education (at least since 1981 with the decriminalisation of homosexuality) by both Labor and the Liberal-National coalition to explain and educate their own party members, let alone the general public whose votes they are ever willing to receive (and thus hungrily augment party coffers), about the full and over-riding principles of the policies they include in election platforms for marriage, family and household. Nevertheless, they continue to assume as they must that here is the central pillar of our country’s economy. Or have they actually decided politically to deny this?

The Liberal Party now expects the voters in the plebiscite to educate themselves without giving any cogent and logical explanation of the political principles undergirding their party that has led their party to effectively reneg on their 2004 commitment in Marriage Act Reform. Instead, as we said last time, they have now accepted the political principle that marriage as defined by the Marriage Act should only ever be what is “politically correct”. This is a completely cowardly standpoint that is no political standpoint at all. It actually drives a tractor into what remains of the framework of what was once a political party.

The Labor Party simply assumes that since they have now backed away from the political task of giving an open and transparent explanation of their legislative standpoint in the country’s parliaments, that the electorate will have to wait until some time later (to 2019 when “marriage equality” becomes compulsory for all its candidates and elected members)! Until then they slide into public debate on the policy sentiments still held in the country from the Whitlam-Hawke-Keating years. It’s probably not what they are wanting to say but Labor Party presents itself as a self-made elite lecturing the electorate on what we don’t know and don’t have to know until they decide they should tell us. How dare a plebiscite be held to expose the Labor Party to such a ridiculous standpoint! Aren’t the voters in need of a pragmatic marketing of Labor’s socialist credentials? And after we have got our share of public funds for the public education we didn’t undertake, how dare the Government be willing to distribute funds to make up the shortfall in actual public political education!

Is that to vilify Labor? Well they and their opposite number have certainly done enough to create an atmosphere of deep antipathy to politics, let alone to marriage and family life as it should be received by us as gift from God. Instead they continue to exploit politics for their own party’s interests! Both sides now effectively participate in the Liberal Party’s betrayal of party principle back in 1974-75.

Yes, there may be good reasons to worry about the conduct of the public debate. But as we have pointed out previously, the efforts of some ABC smarty-pants journalists confirm a widespread suspicion that the ABC is simply taking its lead from those who dogmatically assert, like GetUp! does, that those who defend the Marriage Act, as it now stands, are simply wanting to hide the fact that they are wanting to preach homophobia and hate. The ABC and GetUp! in editorialising as they do on the prospects of an undermined plebiscite debate, would be better to focus upon the way in which Labor and the Liberal-Coalition by their political refusal to develop comprehensive policies about the central pillar of our economy are now revealed as the ones who have seriously undermined the healthy political debate our polity so badly needs.

BCW

25.9.16

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