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Nov 11, 2011

Feeney: why I support a conscience vote on gay marriage

I have been particularly struck by the testimony of same-sex couples about their desire to see their relationships treated with the same dignity and respect as heterosexual relationships, writes David Feeney, Labor Senator for Victoria.


In December, Labor’s national conference will debate the party’s policy on the vexed issue of amending the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry. Labor’s policy is currently one of opposition to this change, but it’s no secret that a large number of party members believe that the time has come to change our policy.

As a happily married Catholic male, I started out with a moderately conservative view on this subject. I’ve always been opposed to discrimination, including against gay and lesbian people. But I also support the institution of marriage and the nuclear family as the best place to raise children. I was not initially persuaded that the wording of the Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, should be changed.

Over the past year, I have met with advocates of both sides of this debate. I have been impressed with the sincerity and strength of conviction of both sides.

But I have been particularly struck by the testimony of same-sex couples about their desire to see their relationships treated with the same dignity and respect as heteros-xual relationships. As a result of these discussions, I have come to the conclusion that this is a change that should be made.

A necessary part of such a policy, however, must be a clear provision that no marriage celebrant, whether a minister of religion or a civil celebrant, can be forced to conduct a marriage ceremony that is in violation of their conscience. Marriage celebrants must be protected against the possibility of prosecution under anti-discrimination law if they decline to conduct a same-sex marriage.

I am aware that some of my Labor colleagues adhere to the view that the traditional view of marriage, as a relationship between a man and a woman, should be preserved. These members rightly make the point that when they joined the Labor Party, and when they sought preselection as Labor candidates, support for same-sex marriage was not part of Labor’s policy. They argue that they should not now be required to vote against their convictions if a bill to change the Marriage Act comes before the federal Parliament. I agree that they should not be forced to choose between their deeply held religious convictions and their loyalty to Labor.

The obvious solution to this is to allow members of all parties to have a conscience vote when such a bill is introduced. Australia has a long history of the use of the conscience vote to manage issues of this kind. Issues on which conscience votes have been held in Australian parliaments include abortion, euthanasia, prostitution, divorce, the death penalty, family law, gambling law, sex discrimination, racial discrimination, liquor licensing, fluoridation, daylight saving, in vitro fertilisation and stem cell research. The Marriage Act itself was passed through federal parliament in 1961 on a conscience vote, so that members who were opposed to the legalisation of divorce could vote according to their consciences.

So I was disappointed to see my colleague Mark Butler arguing in The Sydney Morning Herald against a conscience vote on this issue. I agree with his view that Labor’s tradition is that once the party makes a decision at its national conference, then all members are bound to support that decision. But there is no necessity for national conference to create a binding policy. It is open to national conference simply to allow Labor MPs a conscience vote when a private member’s bill to change the act is introduced. It will then be up to the advocates of both sides of this debate to gain the support of a majority of MPs and Senators.

As a South Australian, Mark Butler no doubt knows that it was that great reforming SA premier, Don Dunstan, who 40 years ago passed the first laws decriminalising homosexuality in Australia. Mark Butler may not recall that this reform was carried out in stages, by way of a series of conscience votes on private members’ bills, rather than by way of government legislation that Labor members were bound to support. I think this is a sound precedent, and I will be arguing at national conference that we follow it.


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47 thoughts on “Feeney: why I support a conscience vote on gay marriage

  1. John

    Labor can only allow a conscience vote if the Liberals and the Nationals also allow a conscience vote.
    It is time for Liberal Party MPs and senators to demand of Tony Abbott their right to a conscience vote on this issue.

  2. Blair Martin

    Senator, a conscience vote is doomed to failure. Less LNP supporters of marriage equality will cross the floor than troglodyte ALP members going to sit with the Opposition. I use the term “troglodyte” deliberately, because I do not share your warm and fuzzy feelings for your colleagues who wish to perpetuate inequality and discrimination.

    There is a lot of nonsense being spoken about “conscience vote” – Senator, when did I get a chance to vote on your marriage? When did I get a chance to have my “conscience” assuaged over all the rights and privileges that you hold as a married (heterosexually), white male with legitimate, biological offspring? Marriage equality is NOT a matter of morality where conscience is deemed to be a advisable benchmark but it is a matter of civil rights. Never should anyone’s civil rights be put up for a popular vote.

    I found your other remark that those poor souls who joined the ALP at one point when marriage equality wasn’t part of the platform but now have to accept it should be accommodated also untenable. Did those who joined the ALP have their consciences wrapped in cotton wool when the ALP changed direction in the last thirty years on areas of economic policy, industrial relations, even asylum seekers? If they don’t like the policy, then they should look for a party that better suits their backward views.

    Also, raising the anti-discrimination argument to protect people so they can be offensive and discriminatory is sheer bunkum. Are Roman Catholic priests regularly hauled before the Anti-Discrimination Commission because they refuse to marry non-Catholics or divorced people? If you have met with the passionate people you say you’ve met with, you’d have realized that none of us who want full marriage equality want to legally compel religious institutions to leave behind their narrow, outdated view of the world. That is a fight those of us that profess a faith and a membership of a denomination are more than prepared to fight in those denominations to effect change and bring the true message of the Christian Gospel to light. As for the vast majority of Australians who are secular and have no regular attachment to a religious faith, the issue is a non-starter and not part of their debate for full marriage equality.

    Senator, you are entitled to your views, however asking us to remain quiet and patient and just wait for things to change slowly over time is not going to cut it anymore. The ALP betrayed the LGBTQI community of Australia when they supported Howard’s egregious Marriage Act 2004. That betrayal has not been forgotten. Prime Minister Gillard has the opportunity to show us that Labor is the party of the fair go, the party of equal access for all Australians and not a party hidebound to antiquated traditions and outmoded belief systems which are not based in fact.

  3. Liz45

    It’s only a ‘convention’ the issue of marriage rights. Conventions can be changed and have been changed. Same sex marriage is a human rights issue. How can Australia protest that we uphold human rights, except? The argument against same sex marriage is weak. No heterosexual couple will be disadvantaged by this – that is a nonsense. We have rights for same sex couples to adopt children – they’ve been allowed to foster children for years. So it’s legal to raise children together, but not to be married? How would heterosexual couples feel if this nonsense law applied to them?

    It’s time we grew up! Some people in the Labor Party probably joined when the death penalty was legal – thankfully, we changed that. There are many injustices that have been overturned even in the last 4 decades. I’m waiting for so-called committed christians to start behaving that way – not just provide lip service!

    What part of ‘racial discrimination’ law was changed via a conscience vote? That’s most disturbing as is most of the references you’ve made? ‘Family Law’? Really? What parts? The 1967 changes to the Constitution was via a Referendum – perhaps that’s what we should have? How about advocating that, or improving the Constitution even further re indigenous people, who aren’t even mentioned at this time – except in the Flora and Fauna section? How disgusting!

  4. Steven McKiernan

    “These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage? I don’t give a fuck about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We’re making a big deal out of things we shouldn’t be making a deal out of. They go on and on with all this bullshit about ‘sanctity’ — don’t give me that sanctity crap! Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want.” Clint Eastwood vs Davo the Feeney.

  5. Bondles

    If the ALP stands on this issue as a party happy to let its representatives vote in favour of continued discrimination, then history will judge them — and they’ll probably have sacrificed their last chance to win back progressive voters and activists from the Greens. That’s the bed the ALP’s made and I’m happy for them to lie in it; I just wish that my friends in loving and committed relationships weren’t standing in the crossfire.

  6. Modus Ponens

    Feeney only supports a conscience vote because he knows it is doomed to fail and his conservative views can be upheld.

    If this article was genuine and not a chimera, it would be titled ‘why I am pushing for the Labor party to change its platform and vote for same-s*x marriage.’

    This is just a cover to try and retain the last senate spot in Victoria against the Greens in 2013….

  7. Reuben

    It’s no secret that a large number of party members believe that the time has come to pay lip service to a few people that perhaps didn’t vote for us because of our archaic bigotry.

    As a happily married Celestial Teapotist male, I started out with a moderately conservative view on this subject. I’ve always feigned opposition to discrimination, including against gay and lesbian people. But I also believe that same-s-x couples are inherently inferior to heteros-xual couples and view the nuclear family as the best place to raise children.

    I have been particularly struck by the testimony of same-s-x couples about their desire to see their relationships treated with the same dignity and respect as heteros-xual relationships. As a result of these discussions, I have come to the conclusion that I should develop the pretence of considering this a semi-serious issue.

    A necessary part of such a policy, however, must be a clear provision that we must legislate discrimination by ensuring that no marriage celebrant, whether a minister of religion or a civil celebrant, can be forced to conduct a marriage ceremony that is in violation of the Teapot’s teachings. Marriage celebrants must be protected from some wanna-be Rosa Parks hoping to keep her seat on the bus.

    I am aware that some of my Labor colleagues refuse to admit that same-s-x marriage was around a long time before we thought up the Celestial Teapot and that it will be around a long time after humanity has forgotten all about Its Divine Orbit. They argue that they should not now be required to vote against their convictions if a bill to change the Marriage Act comes before the federal Parliament. I agree that my particular flavour of loony cult takes precedence to the rights of others and should form the basis for federal legislation.

    It was that great reforming SA premier, Don Dunstan, who 40 years ago passed the first laws decriminalising homos-xuality in Australia. This reform was carried out in stages, by way of a series of conscience votes on private members’ bills, rather than by way of government legislation that Labor members were bound to support. I think this is a sound precedent, and I will be arguing at national conference that we ruin the hopes and dreams of a generation by desperately clinging to our potty prejudices and dragging same-s-x equality out over a period of 40 years.

  8. paddy

    ROTFL It’s always a hoot, when the comments are saner (and better written) than the original piece.

  9. Reuben

    @Blair Martin

    Well said sir.

  10. SusieQ

    Well said Blair Martin and Bondles, you are so right. Even though I am ‘straight’ and therefore can marry who I wish if I want to, this issue is one of the reasons I have stopped voting Labour and now vote Green.
    As for Feeney being Catholic, all well and good, but seriously, what moral superiority can the Church claim on anything these days, after its appalling record on child abuse?

  11. mikeb

    Crikey – so many cynics commenting on what seemed to me a perfectly reasonable position.

  12. Liz45

    @SUSIEQ – I agree! Makes me sick really! The ‘high moral ground’ argument is wearing very thin!

    @MIKEB – Not if it affects you perhaps? It doesn’t affect me either, but the hypocrisy is nauseating! Kids of ‘straight couples’ abused/r***d for years? I don’t buy their “reasonable position” at all!

  13. Simon Mansfield

    Senator David Feeney knows full well that a conscience vote on gay marriage will fail. That’s why he’s supporting it. Just pathetic. The Greens are also pushing Labor to go with a conscience vote as when it fails they can blame Labor and peel off more votes from the Labor Left and ensure Labor never governs again in its own right and is always forced to dance to the Green’s tune. Failed European-style multiparty progressive government is what Bob Brown wants to entrench in Australia. That it will only entrench conservative multiparty government for a generation seems to be an outcome Brown willfully ignores.

  14. SusieQ

    Anyone is entitled to have a ‘Damascus’ moment, see that they have been wrong and change their views, but this change of view is so qualified and so full of holes, you have to wonder why he bothered, except, as one of my fellow posters has said, he’s worried about losing his spot in the Senate at the next election. Why is such a simple matter of human rights so difficult? Whats happened to the Labour Party?? (rhetorical question only!).

  15. shepherdmarilyn

    It’s a silly “law” made before the sexual revolution and the pill. Time for Australia to grow up.

    Interesting though that Feeney was happy to deport children and their parents to rot in Malaysia.

  16. SBH

    Blair, call me a cynical old leftist but if Feeney genuinely supports gay marriage, I’ll eat my hat. What he supports is a conscience vote that, as you’ve quite correctly pointed out, is doomed. There we go problem solved – Uncle Joe happy with me and I get to parade my (sadly inconsequential this tiime) progressive credentials.

    As for “These members rightly make the point that when they joined the Labor Party…etc etc etc”
    What a load of sh*t. The party has extensive and robust structures and rules to deal with new ideas and make the policy. Party members engage in the process and live with the result – or go off and join the DLP or whatever. Change the issue and see how far this rubbish flies.
    “These members rightly make the point that when they joined the Labor Party, and when they sought preselection as Labor candidates, support for counting Aborigines as full citizens of this country was not part of Labor’s policy. They argue that they should not now be required to vote against their convictions if a bill to change the Electoral Act comes before the federal Parliament.” Insert any range of other changes that have occured over the last hundred years.

    We see right through you Dave ” a moderately conservative view” oh my aching sides.

  17. Blair Martin

    @Reuben – compliment returned, sir. (By any chance, did you used to work for Senator Feeney and this was the first draft of his article that you penned and then he binned, along with your good self?)

    @mikeb – yes, cynics, eh? However, when you’ve lived a life of being called “sick”, “diseased”, “perverted”, “evil”, “satanic”, “wrong”, “predator” and “child molester”; allow us to have some level of cynicism with Feeney and his ilk. The only reasonable position is to support full marriage equality because it does nothing regressive to society especially to ones own little world as Feeney should be able see now that he’s had his change of heart (of sorts).

    @Simon Mansfield – interesting analysis, however just where do you see “European-style multiparty progressive government” as a failure? Nearly all current (and recent) national governments have been one party and that from the centre-right. I count those a massive failures, where as the centre-left state governments in Germany are showing excellent signs of progress and health. Do I detect an ALP operative or influence behind your spat of “….ensure Labor never governs again in its own right and is always forced to dance to the Green’s tune.”?

  18. Reuben

    When the early Christians criminalised same-sex marriage the penalty was death. Perhaps we could have a conscience vote on that one too.

  19. mikeb

    @Blair Martin – Lumping Feeney in with people who have called gays “sick”, “diseased”, “perverted”, “evil”, “satanic”, “wrong”, “predator” and “child molester” is a bit much. Hypocrisy much?
    I’ve got no idea on his past form but he doesn’t seem to be the hater type. I’d suggest that if you/we don’t know the man then give him the benefit of the doubt.

  20. Blair Martin

    @Mikeb – seems it was you that “lumped” Feeney in with the less acceptable, I made the allusion that those who have had to put up with inaccurate and scurrilous “haters” (thanks for the Americanism) are right to view his words with cynicism as has other posters here remarked they are so circuitous and mealy-mouthed as to be almost meaningless. Benefit of the doubt? “By your words, shall ye know them.” He’s got all the benefit he’s going to get from me and I am deeply in doubt over his true opinion.

  21. Viking

    We could begin by allowing RC priests to marry Rc priests.

  22. kate

    I’d support a conscience vote if it was restricted to people who would be in any way affected by the law change, ie, gay people who want to get married. Anybody else is entirely unaffected, so how can it be a matter for their conscience?

    Senator Feeney, as other commenters have correctly identified – ICB

  23. Reuben


    Good call!

    So it only needs an abstention from Senator Wong to get through the Senate, but is there actually anyone in the lower house to introduce the bill in the first place?

  24. Simon Mansfield

    @ Blair Martin – do I detect a Green apologist. European recent history is filled with failed multiparty governments – some socialist, some centrist, some conservative. They created between them the mess that is now Europe. Leftwing multiparty govt will never work long term in Australia. The electorate if presented with the alternative of left or right of centre multiparty govt – will choose the LNP – as will be the case in August 2013 – when Turnbull defeats Gillard in a landslide. And David Feeney will be be directly responsible for that outcome along with the rest of the paleo right that took control of the Labor Party last year and installed their bogan puppet Ms Gillard – who among many things promised to never support gay marriage.

  25. Blair Martin

    @Simon Mansfield: thank you for your response, which completely ignored the question I asked of you and then propagated your own (false) hypothesis and historical analysis.

    Green apologist? Are you using the correct philosophical term or the modern debased one? I am certainly not the latter and doubt I need to dignify the supposition you pose with the former. I am not a member of any party – left, centre or right. Your sweeping statement about European multiparty government comes with no supporting data, repeating your belief does not make it correct or justified. No multiparty left-wing government has been in power in the Eurozone which has subsequently caused the economic crises. All states with economic ruination staring them in the face are states that have been governed by centre-right/right wing parties since the turn of the century. Only one country in that time period, Ireland, had the Greens in a coalition government, as a very minor player with the despots of the Fianna Fáil who set about playing fast and loose with the Celtic Tiger. The governments of Italy, Greece, Spain that are responsible for the economic chaos were all right wing, but this is a digression from the debate on this page.

    I do agree with your dim view of the Labor Right which savaged someone who should have been a natural Right leader (Rudd) and replaced him with a puppet (yes, I agree with that too) – however, Gillard personally believes in marriage equality yet the terms and delicate balancing she has to play with means her public utterances are nowhere near those personal leanings. Gillard is a lawyer and a politician – and from what I’ve been told (and told by members of the Opposition) she is a master negotiator. Perhaps, like Keating, she will have her finest hour out of a bloody mess and leave a legacy that no amount of Abbott wrecking will ever undo.

    Now, about this crystal ball you so luckily have… care to share things like the Brownlow count for 2012, the results of the Men’s 4×100 Free relay in London and what exactly will happen on 21/12/12? I’d like to get my bets in with Centrebet now please.

  26. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Simon and Blair, enough!
    David Feeney has briefly outlined his Damascus moment (or is that an ass moment?) and gone to great lengths to explain his conscience vote position. The man is a self-styled conservative Catholic. Since he hasn’t stated his personal categorical position it is highly likely that in a conscience vote situation, David Feeney would vote against changing the 2004 John Howard amendment.

  27. Liz45

    @BLAIR- You know what really gets to me? It’s as though voting for the CONVENTION to be changed re marriage laws etc, that the opponents ‘happiness’ or whatever will be threatened? What total bs. I’m a straight woman who believes in equal rights for everyone. This is a human rights issue, not an anti-religious issue. People will go about their own lives as usual, whether their heterosexual marriage is happy or not! Damned stupid! It frustrates me! Can only imagine how gays/lesbians and other relevant people must feel. It’s time we grew up!

    A conservative Governor in New York changed or added to the relevant act – I think they’re still part of the world? Haven’t fallen off the planet? Truly!

    Between this issue and the NSW Govt caving in to the religious right over ethics classes, I’m just fed up! It IS 2011 isn’t it? Not 1911?

  28. Edward James

    I dont believe politicians can have a conscience vote, as the minimum requirement would be to actually have a consience. Labor Party members are comfortable with a liar leading their party! Edward James

  29. Liz45

    @EDWARD – Have you or any of your friends had or are undergoing treatment for your selective memories? You can read all about Howard’s lies – just put it into your search engine. Then there’s the famous Abbott LIE on health rebates? Remember that? Had to go back on that a couple of months after the ’04 Election? There was the big Howard LIES re Worstchoices? eg. Unfair dismissal Laws only applying to workplaces of 20 or less – after the ’04 election, guess what? Yep! workplaces of 100 people!

    Abbott, Howard, Turnbull agreed with the policy prior to ’07 Election on climate change. For purely political opportunism, Abbott went against his own commitment – or, in other words LIED! As did Turnbull, who now tries to keep both sides happy – how gutless can you get?

    The fact is that Julia Gillard made THAT statement once – after the Election, of which the Greens became part of a coalition, she just bought forward other statements she’d made on climate change policy – one of them in one of Murdoch’s rags either on polling day or the day before?

    Action on climate change has been ALP policy for how long now? 5 – 10 years? Strictly speaking, she just adhered to ALP policy? Perhaps ‘encouraged’ by the Greens, but hang on, they were also elected by the people of Australia? People like you carry on as though they have no right to be there? In fact, if there was fairness in the system, there’d be more than one Greens members in the House of Reps? Go on the AEC website and look at the % of votes, and how they turned into Seats? Not just at all!

    There are at least 34 documented Howard lies. Where were you while that was happening? Where was your outrage then? Silent and selective!

  30. Edward James

    @ Liz 45. I have gone cap in hand to Labor, Liberal, Greens, Independants, after I discovered my father was being stood over by our local council. After more than ten years I have good reason to call our Liberal National Coalition and Labor the two parties not much preferred. As for John Howard he was guilty of the most offensive act of pork barreling I have ever witnessed. When on the front page of the Central Coast Sun Weekly in the run up to his last Federal election. He told readers if re elected he would fix the road. In effect demonstrating he was willing to reach over the bodies of those five people who died wrongful deaths in a ditch at Piles Creek. Somersby to buy votes for Jim Lloyd. http://bit.ly/EJ_PNewsAds Link to political attack ads identifying corruption accommodated by our political allsorts at all three levels of government. Edward James 0243419140

  31. Jeremy Sear

    Conscience votes are absurd because voters don’t get to choose their local ALP candidate. They don’t get to choose between a socially progressive ALP MP and a reactionary dinosaur.

    But what the ALP needs to understand is that voters are increasingly realising that we DO have a choice – we can get a progressive local member by voting Green. And this issue, and the ALP’s indefensible support for bigotry, is one reason why the Greens vote is growing.

    This issue is not going to go away until full equality is reached. If the ALP wants to stop losing so much ground to the Greens, it needs to get with its founding principles of social justice and declare that it supports marriage equality, and vote accordingly. The ultimate resolution is obvious – equality is inevitable – it’s just a question of how many ordinary Australians the ALP is happy with being discriminated against in the meantime.

    A conscience vote is inadequate. If the ALP wants the majority of Australians who support full equality to vote for it, it needs to reform its outdated position and vote to end the indefensible discrimination immediately.

  32. Edward James

    @ LIZ45 Link http://bit.ly/EJ_PNewsAds go to ADO21. pdf where you and anyone else may read what I published about John Howard. Politics is a team sport, I dont see any good teams out there! I may well run another year of ads naming names and exposing the garbage our elected political allsorts are passing off as good governnce. Edward James

  33. Edward James

    History from Crikey string for those people who cant be bothered to click my links. http://bit.ly/EJ_PNewsAds Link to political attack ads identifying corruption accommodated by our political allsorts at all three levels of government. Edward James 0243419140
    The circus has arrived! or should I say returned.
    Posted Wednesday, 24 August 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink
    I’d like to see all the less savoury “personal habits” of members published – to show us just how ordinary they are – especially “The God Squad”, telling (and legislating) everyone else how to live their lives.
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Wednesday, 24 August 2011 at 8:50 pm | Permalink
    We enjoyed the fixed price feed at the local RSL tonight.

    Not surprised that the talk and anger was being sheeted home to Thomson…. How could a Union boss do that.

    I wonder if his replacement at the next election can overcome the this or will they be napalmed? I feel the latter.
    Edward James
    Posted Thursday, 25 August 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
    Lets keep in mind Suzanne Blake, Thompson is simply an integral part of the Labor Party, whose members at the bottom of the grass roots community are often standing beside us as we go about earning our living and feeding our families. Many of us are in fact the working poor identified by Cathy Jackson when she was exposing her concerns on the ABC on Wednesday 24 August. I have spent tens of thousands of my dollars in full and double page ads, in an effort to expose the same sort of abuse. I understand it is silly to expect our trusted elected representatives will turn over a new leaf and start acting in the best interest of their constituents. Never the less I and I am sure many others continue to live and act in the hope something will change.
    Edward James 0243419140
    Link to political attack ads
    corruption I identify as accommodated
    by our elected representatives at all
    three levels of government.
    Edward James
    Posted Thursday, 25 August 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink
    I am awaiting guidance from people from both sides of the two parties of politics not much preferred who like me have spent years of their lives trying to expose abuse of our due process. I accept people clicking this link
    http://bit.ly/EJ_PNewsAds could not give a stuff about a local hospital. But please click through the other ads and you will see photos of John Robertson and John Hatzistergos political dead wood. The fact is these politicians are not doing your political business because people like me have exposed them as political dead wood Edward James. the Gosford Foghorn 02 43419140
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Thursday, 25 August 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink
    @ Edward James

    Well said, and I see you also live in the electorate with your phone number on the post.

    The left wing clowns on this board, don’t understand how poorly we have been treated by Federal and even State members for decades, even though we are NOW a marginal seat (Dobell and Robertson).
    Edward James
    Posted Friday, 26 August 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink
    The focus on Thomson is no longer enough for me, journalist worth their wages understand politicians have selective memories and when cornered will lie with consummate ease. I do not care that the police are looking at certain matters related to the misuse of the HSU credit card which may see Craig Thompson find his way into a law court. I hope voters keep banging on about the fact that so many of our politicians are simply not fit to represent anyone, they use enormous amounts of our taxes to pay minions who act as a barrier between constituents and their elected reps. Yet their fellow party members wont kick them out of the respective parties. The two parties not much preferred and our Federal Parliament itself have been brought into disrepute by this national circus. We read weeks ago about John Della Bosca and Graham Richardson warning pre-selectors about Craig Thompson. What the police do or do not do in another place has nothing to do with the on going conversations we share in the peoples courts of public opinion! Politicians have not yet regulated away our freedom to make our poor opinion of their woeful work product a matter of public discussion! Edward James
    I do not understand why people who post on these strings wont pick up a phone and have a converstaion with me on 0243419140 I am also surprised the people who moderate this site hav not tried the phone number. I am telling my readers a local council has mislead a coroner and I on the public record telling readers an atourney general and a several party leaders are ignoring published of of corruption. Perhaps everyone is just too busy to overtsight how their taxes are wasted ?

  34. Moira Byrne

    Three things:
    1) I agree that it is a human rights issue.
    2) There’s no need to get personal about the Celestial Teapot, which has done a lot of good in communities. A couple of bad eggs don’t ruin the dozen.
    3) It’s interesting that some politicians who gleefully wear their religious heart on their sleeve on certain issues of sexuality do not adhere to their religious’ leaders views on refugee policy, welfare recipients, indigenous affairs, and the vision of an inclusive community.
    @Viking, thanks for the chuckle.

  35. Edward James

    Roman Catholic Priest who might want to marry are not that interested in adults! Conscience votes would by definition require our politicians to have a conscience ! Edward James

  36. Liz45

    @MOIRA BYRNE – By the “Celestial Teapot” I think you mean the catholic church? I hold them all responsible – every last one of them, except those who were abused or went out of their way to support victims. Today on ‘The Conversation Hour’ (you can download it)is a repeat interview with an abused victim who was once a MP? His story, and the response/s he received add weight to my view – they’re still propping up the perpetrators in a blatant, arrogant and intimidating manner? Those who are apologists, who do NOT speak out, are just as bad as those b******s who committed these major crimes. In fact, due to our isolation, Australia could have more victims than any other country – including the US?

    How many of the catholic MP’s even go anywhere near this issue? Name one!

    @EDWARD JAMES – I believe you! Have you taken your assertions and evidence to ICAC in NSW? Mind you, some of the allegations re some Wollongong Councillors didn’t result in charges laid. I accept, that in some cases, there could be ‘smoking guns’ but no or little evidence?

    Re the allegations against Thomson? When one considers the crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence in Australia, coupled with the horrific incidence of murdered women by their husbands/partners (one every 7 – 10 days?) you have to accept, that there’s an ingrained culture of violent attitudes towards women and girls? Add to this, child sexual abuse, and the scenario is very chilling indeed! IF Thomson did these things, he’s just one of many OUT there!

    Look at the response when sports people are accused of misogynist and/or criminal acts against women? It’s the women who are reviled in the media, particularly by ????guess which media outlet?

    Thomson, if guilty, is a manifestation of an ingrained and cultural philosophy that classes women less than human! That’s what we have to fight against!

    We still have to adopt the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ ideal – otherwise we’re all weakened!

  37. Edward James

    LIZ45. Several years ago I realized it was a waste of money and time taking political arguments into law courts. We all should be aware how quickly unhappy politicians will simply change the law if they don’t like it. I believe the so called separation of powers serves us well. I liked the idea that the peoples court of public opinion is a much better venue for constituents to conduct our public political business in! Craig Thompson is a politician who is perceived to have committed what we may euphemistically identify as political sins against the people. He is on trial in the court of public opinion where the judgment is all about our perceptions. When you read some of the ads I have published you will understand I have touched all those same bases others before me have visited. I have nothing but contempt for the ICAC and State Ombudsman. Have a look at the links I have provided then you wont waste our time. Do you really think I would spend over four hundred days and many nights outside NSW Parliament protesting if I had not knocked on every door first. Also the phone number is a local call save time ring it! Edward James

  38. Liz45

    @EDWARD – 43…. isn’t a local call for me. I’m 42….

    I’m not convinced on the “separation of powers”? Who makes the Laws – the politicians? How many lawyers, barristers go into politics? When John Howard was PM there were heaps of them in his govt – on the front bench?

    I’m not sure what the answer is, or how to go about it? Just keep plodding on I guess! The court of “public opinion” can be very damaging to people – whether they’re innocent or guilty – of small ‘crimes’ or big ones? A couple of politicians who attempted suicide spring to mind – not a good outcome at all – most disturbing!

    Don’t misunderstand me, if Craig Thomson DID do what he’s accused of, I have nothing but contempt for him, but, he’s still innocent until etc.

    I think people don’t know what to do next? They think they’ll be heard or have action taken, but then nothing happens – so what comes next? Most frustrating! I don’t know what the answer is? You realise this more than most, obviously!

  39. Edward James

    LIZ 45 This is a link to pages of the Peninsula News a local paper which has been distributed free on the Central Coast for over ten years. http://bit.ly/EJ_PNewsAds at least have a look at this photo of my father in his eighties protesting from a wheel chair and hospital bed outside the oldest parliament in this country. A staunch Labor supporter who died waiting for The Australian Labor Party to honor their creed and protect him from an out of control local government. AD007.pdf.
    Material which has been published in the public domain with other licenced publications for several years.
    Using the court of public opinion is our right. Our Parliaments make and regulate the laws. That is why a person taking government into court is on a fools errand. Last year we had two property owners who refused to let Parramatta City Council acquire their properties under the provisions of the just lands acquisition act. They argued Parramatta Council wanted to take their property and give it to GROCON as part of a deal the council had with the property developers to build an enormous development in partnership with council, with zoneing heights extending to around forty floors.
    The property owners were unhappy at the pittance Parramatta Council was offering for their property, which was based on zoning which limited height to four floors. My point is these people went to court, eventually all the way to the High Court of Australia where that court ruled in their favor five zip. As was explained by one of the property owners on an ABC report. But our State government Labor as it happens changed the NSW Law to permit the local council to take their property and hand it over to GROCON. Several years ago a community group fought the proposed re-development of unused rail yards near Auburn Clyde to a waste compaction plant for the cities garbage to be packed and shipped to Lithgow by train. The day those ratepayers won in the Land and Environment Court. Premier Bob Carr came out onto the steps of NSW Parliament and told the waiting journalist. I don’t care what the land and environment court have ruled we (the government) will simply legislate to permit it. In my opinion he demonstrated a contempt for our laws that day in step with the actions of men in another time and place who went on to become dictators! When voters realize we have the power to choose a path which will return honest open representative government to the peoples, by voting dead wood politicians right out of parliament and into the street where they belong. Not onto the opporsition benched for expencive taxpayer funded RnR
    Edward James 0243419140

  40. John Radek

    All this fuss over same sex marriage. Quite simply, same sex marriage is wrong. Marriage is between a man & woman. If homosexuals & lesbians want to live together, fine, but it is not marriage. They can call it something else. Read our Instruction Manual. To not do so will cause severe problems (already starting to)


    John Radek, Millaroo.

  41. Blair Martin

    Dear John:
    May I have a copy of your Instruction Manual? I don’t wish to have severe problems (which may have already commenced) by not owing a copy.

    Many Thanks

  42. kate

    @Blair. I wouldn’t bother with the Instruction Manual. It’s about 2000 years old, the few bits which were relevant at the time have long passed their use by date, the rest of it was either morally and intellectually bankrupt to begin with, or is available in a much better format without needing to check your intelligence and basic humanity at the door.

  43. Liz45

    BLAIR – Hi Blair, again. I was hoping that Julia Gillard would show some real leadership and abide by the wishes of over 65% of Australians. I heard a young man on the World Today, who classes himself and his partner as christians. He refers to the so-called christian mob as ‘extreme right wingers’? He and his partner have been in a marriage relationship for 10 yrs. He welcomes the vote taken in the Queensland Parlt last night, but still believes that it doesn’t go far enough! I agree with him. I just do NOT understand what the opposition is fearful of – it’s just crazy!

    The opposition on this issue call themselves christians – I can’t see any so-called christianity in any of them. Take Abbott for instance – a more hateful and misogynist person is hard to find. He’s already admitted that homosexual men make him feel uncomfortable or intimidate him or some such bs?

  44. Blair Martin

    Liz: Hello again. Yes, Dash Kruck, brilliant young Brisbane actor talking about his partner Peter Foley. I am honoured to call both of them good friends and have known them for at least 6, nearly 7 of that 10 years together. Was at their wedding at the end of 2007, performed by Pete’s Dad – a Christian pastor.

    Wendy Francis was in the public gallery for the debate and the vote last night. She was surrounded by dozens of LGBTQI community members and our straight allies. She left (from what I was told, as I had to be elsewhere) at the end of the debate and vote looking crushed. I think it’s time she decided to give up. She cannot win any debate because she is always fighting the wrong battle with the wrong weapons.

    I too, cannot understand why their is opposition to marriage equality. Every speech last night that outlined opposition based on “belief” simply showed they were shallowly rooted with nothing to back up their beliefs.

    “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”
    Albert Einstein

  45. Edward James

    Christian, Christians. Christians must be whole heartedly confused by the multiple positions taken by their elected political representatives across this country. When they are, it seems so multiply faceted when it comes to their religious persuasions, and the part those religious influences play in the way us Australians are governed. Edward James is here waiting for fair dinkum Australians to stand up and support honest open representative government 0243419140

  46. Liz45

    Hi Blair – Must have been a magic time for Pete’s Dad! Another fair dinkum pastor/minister etc? Now I know two!!!

    The vote in Qld last night was very definite wasn’t it? I bet the extreme rightwing thought that the world would end, but the weather was as usual for Qld at this time of the year? The sun was shining for several hours that I watched/listened the cricket – 1st Test Match? Strange isn’t it? The haters are so emphatic of how evil a path some of the States have decided to travel, you’d think the world would end!

    There was a great article in Sunday’s Sun Herald (NSW) where a young rugby player and his female fiance have decided, that they will not marry until a gay and lesbian couple can! Aren’t they a lovely pair? He’s from Zimbabwe and has a strong feeling re social justice!

    Today some of the senior people in the ALP Ministry were posing the question – ‘why should we spend so much time on an issue that is not a priority for average Australians’? I screamed at the radio several times – ‘unless you’re a gay or lesbian couple who love each other, or are family members or friends.

    What difference will it make to heterosexuals if same sex couples marry? I just don’t understand their hysteria over this issue – it just doesn’t make any sense, but then hatred, fear and bigotry never does!

    It will happen one day Blair – just hang in there. Your supporters are growing in number! I feel optimistic, particularly about the attitude of young people. Unlike some who whinge about them all the time, I think the overwhelming majority are aware people who act responsibly and have a good sense of justice!

  47. silkworm

    Feeney’s days are numbered. The recent decision by the HSU to disaffiliate from the ALP was targeted at Kathy Jackson, who was Feeney’s proxy on the HSU. No more HSU votes for you, Senator. Bye bye.

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