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John Passant

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September 2011



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



“Conscience vote” is no way to win equal marriage rights

A conscience vote is no way to win equal marriage rights argues Cat Rose, Co-convener, Community Action Against Homophobia.

In August, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young wrote an opinion piece in The Age arguing that “the fight for marriage equality should be above party politics, which is a vital reason to give members of parliament a conscience vote on the matter.” Although the Greens, and increasing numbers of Labor figures support the demand for marriage equality, there have been increasing calls from these quarters for the ALP to allow MPs to vote according to their consciences on this issue.

Advocates of the conscience vote have argued that it is a compromise that suits both sides, that it is the best we can hope for, or that it is a step in the right direction.  But it is not any of these things.

Marriage equality is an issue – fundamentally – of civil rights.  This has been firmly established by the campaign over the last few years.  Fundamental to the concept of rights is that they are unconditional. They should be upheld no matter what, regardless of whether or not certain individuals approve.

A free vote would give the Labor Party a cowardly back-door excuse to not take a principled stand on a common-sense issue of civil and human rights. It represents a concession to the bigots in the party determined to maintain discrimination.

Those supporting the marriage equality campaign need to demand the ALP officially change its party platform to support equal marriage rights.  Just as the apology to the stolen generations was a matter of binding policy for the ALP, so too should this issue of equality and civil rights. Addressing racism was not considered a matter of conscience, nor should removing homophobia from the law.

It is not just that a conscience vote is a betrayal of anti-homophobic principles.  It is most worryingly a proposal that would likely see reform go down to defeat. Given the composition of parliament, almost all the Labor MPs and a large proportion of the Coalition would have to vote for equal rights. But Tony Abbott and other senior Liberal figures have been nothing but utterly clear on their hostility to holding a conscience vote on this issue.

Within the Labor party, the situation is not much better. Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan, and other senior figures have publicly expressed their opposition to equal rights, and their allies in the right wing of the party will likely vote accordingly. Furthermore, Adam Bandt passed a motion last year that MPs should have to consult with their electorates on marriage equality.  Out of 150 MPs, only 30 bothered to report back.  Of those 30, only 5 reported that their constituents supported equality.  This is despite continual polling that shows that support for marriage equality sits at around 60%.  The refusal of most MPs to report and the fact that the others could push the outrageous lie that most Australians support the government’s policy demonstrates a highly dismissive attitude amongst most MPs, Labor and Liberal, towards this issue.

All this highlights the need for the ALP to insist on equal rights in the party’s platform, not a moral gesture designed to placate the party’s supporters while upholding discrimination.

If a conscience vote goes down to defeat, as it likely would, this would make the campaign significantly more difficult, although we would continue the campaign in earnest. But it would embolden bigots everywhere, as homophobic prejudice would be further legitimated by the government and legal system. It could be a long wait before another vote can be taken, and they will use the fact that a vote has already taken place to refuse to reconsider the issue. 

A conscience vote is not a step forward for the campaign.  It is a con by those who want to avoid embarrassing the Labor Party.  The Greens have been mistaken to call for a conscience vote.  They should be saying that a conscience vote is not enough, that equality is a human right, and join us in clearly demanding that all Labor politicians vote in favour of marriage equality. 

Doug Cameron, who is the Labor Left Co-convener and a supporter of marriage equality, recently made this comment: “I don’t know how you say that marriage equality becomes a conscience issue, but these are arguments that will have to take place down the track.”

These are not arguments that can happen down the track.  They are arguments that need to happen now.  Unless we go to the National Conference in December with it firmly established that we are opposed to a conscience vote, any platform change could be reduced to meaningless words.  If the Labor Party changes their platform to support marriage equality, we want them to know that we will be holding them to account.  This is why it is so important for everyone to come out in force on December 3.

 A rally for marriage equality will march to the ALP’s National Conference on Saturday December 3.  Equality supporters are travelling across the country to be there.  Meeting at 12pm at Hyde Park North (Sydney).

Cat Rose Co-convener, Community Action Against Homophobia

Facebook event:!/event.php?eid=192196340827545




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