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John Passant

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May 2015



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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)



Ireland says yes to same sex marriage; Australian politicians still say nope, nope, nope


In an historic referendum decision, the Irish people have voted overwhelmingly for same sex marriage. The vote looks to be about two to one in favour of a constitutional change recognising same sex marriage.

All the establishment (political parties, media, business) supported the change. The turnout was high and working class areas (for example in Dublin) were especially strong in their support of equality.

The referendum was held and then won because of the tireless work of LGBTI campaigners in Ireland and the changing nature of Irish society as it became integrated into Europe and hence into the global economy.

In Australia polls consistently show that about two-thirds of Australians support equal love. Yet in the last vote on the issue two-thirds of politicians voted against reforms that would have changed the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act from being between a man and a women (another of Howard’s rotten legacies) to something encompassing same sex marriage.

Since their time in government a number of Labor politicians have now reversed their opposition and come out in favour of equal love. The numbers in Parliament remain close, perhaps just a handful of votes away for voting in favour of same sex marriage if the Liberals were to give their members a conscience vote as Labor has done.

If Labor mandated voting in favour of same sex marriage – it won’t – and some Liberal waverers with a liberal social conscience voted with the ALP and the Greens, we could have marriage equality in Australia within the month. Unlike Ireland, all Australia needs is an amendment passed by both Houses of Parliament to the Marriage Act.

Some on the left of the Labor Party are moving to bind the caucus to vote in Parliament in favour of equal love. This appears to me to be a tactical manoeuvre, to make it easier for right wing parliamentarians, like Swan and Bowen have already done, to proclaim their newfound support for same sex marriage.

The success of the referendum in Ireland will undoubtedly raise the question of a referendum here. Some pros and cons. First, there is no legal or constitutional need for such a referendum. Second, without support from both major parties a referendum (which needs to win not just a majority of all the votes but also a majority of the votes in a majority of the states) will not pass.

Third a referendum absolves politicians from their supposed duty of representing their constituents and gives them a convenient scapegoat. Instead of them bearing the burden of criticism for failing to pass same sex marriage laws they will be able to shift the blame to the people for failing to pass the referendum.

Any referendum too would give voice to the bigots and purveyors of hatred to sprout their filth. The vitriol they unleash could have a negative impact on gays and lesbians. The victory of any referendum could outweigh that initial drawback. Indeed a referendum campaign and then the result have the possibility of unleashing forces of real democracy and equality and if successful such a  great change in the way many people feel and view themselves that I think we have to support the call for a referendum, even if this lets politicians off the hook.

Of curse a campaign now to force politicians to respect the wishes of the vast majority of the electorate and vote to amend the Marriage Act to allow same sex marriage would unleash the same forces of democracy and equality and on success the same wave of euphoria. It ahs the added advantage of empowering people in the here and now by forcing our ‘representatives’ to at lest once in their lives represent us and should therefore be in my view be the immediate focus of any such campaign.

Support for same sex marriage in Australia is so strong that a referendum would, I think, pass, both as a simple majority referendum and, although this is slightly more problematic without the absolute support of the conservative parties, a constitutional change referendum.

The overwhelming vote in Ireland in favour of marriage equality shows that all that is solid can melt into air. The rise of the women’s liberation movement, the massive increase in female participation in the workforce, the consequent challenges to systemic stereotypes about women and the family and the ongoing strong campaign for equal love all point to societal changes that could see gay marriage legalised in the near future.

Let’s keep the pressure up on Australian politicians to force them to vote for same-sex marriage today. How about mass rallies across Australia to celebrate the success in Ireland and to call on the Australian Parliament to amend the Marriage Act so that, in the words of the Irish amendment to the Constitution, ‘marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex’?

UPDATE: Opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten will move a Bill on Monday (1 June) to amend the Marriage Act to allow same sex marriage.


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