Jun 25, 2012

Strange company for Labor Senator at Christian summit

A Tasmanian Labor Senator has gladly addressed a controversial Christian conference whose keynote speaker believes homos-xuality is a "choice made in weakness".

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

A Tasmanian Labor Senator has addressed a controversial Christian conference whose keynote speaker believes homos-xuality is a "choice made in weakness". Helen Polley, first elected to the Senate in 2004 and then again in 2010 with the support of the ALP's Right faction, spoke on Saturday on the hot button issues of euthanasia and palliative care at the Australian Christian Lobby talkfest, featuring British-based "futurist" Mal Fletcher. Fletcher isn't a fan of same-s-x attraction, noting in 2000 "there is a body of respected psychologists who believe that homos-xuality is often a symptom of arrested emotional or gender identity development. For example, children who do not develop a good bond with parents, especially the same-s-x parent, feel a 'love deficit', a hunger for security." In 2007, the Melbourne-born oracle stated it isn't possible to "cure" homos-xuality, but that "recovery" is the preferred options for the waywardly attracted: "This lifestyle is above all a choice -- albeit one that is often made in weakness, when there seem to be no alternatives for the individual concerned." Last year, Polley recorded a video before the ALP national conference for the ACL pleading with her party not to pass gay marriage amendments proposed by Penny Wong and Andrew Barr. Labor's 500-strong Apple Isle rank and file is overwhelmingly in favour of equal love. Fletcher, who did not return calls, also has considered takes on conservative bugbears including abortion ("... might we not see in desperately poor countries the forming of 'abortion industries', where women are paid conceive so that their foetuses can be removed for experimentation? Others have wondered, if we now accept experimentation on the unborn, what will stop a new generation of scientists from wanting to experiment on people who are comatose, or dying? And what's to stop the use of aborted foetal material in eugenics-type experiments like the ones carried out by the Nazis?") and Muslims ("I do get the sense that people are growing impatient with the victim mentality which often seems to accompany the views of minority groups, religious and otherwise"). A Polley spokesman told Crikey his boss wasn't there in the morning during Fletcher's speech and was not aware of his history. He said there was only a "loose agenda" on what the ACL wanted her to speak about. Australian Christian Lobby national chief Jim Wallace said this morning that "half the country is getting really tired about being misrepresented on this stuff. You fellows have managed to take the issue of homos-xuality and turn it around." Wallace says Fletcher was speaking about digitisation, communications and "how the church needed to taking advantage of technology" to disseminate its message. Rainbow Labor Tasmania coordinator Robbie Moore was dismayed by Polley's attendance. "Their views are ridiculously right-wing ... it is not appropriate for MPs to be involved with the people whose values Labor rejects," he told Crikey this morning. Moore says he will move a motion at the Tasmanian state ALP conference in August to bind the state's federal MPs to vote in support of marriage equality in line with the branch's progressive platform. Over 80% of Labor's membership in Tasmania is aligned to the Left. Unions Tasmania chief Kevin Harkins, a staunch Polley critic and potential Senate rival, told Crikey: "Helen Polley needs to have a big think about who she associates with ... People have to right to live their lives how they wish, mixing with fundamentalists like Fletcher is not a good look." Last week Harkins teed off on Polley and fellow Tasmanian Labor Senator Catryna Bilyk, who he said both needed to stand up for marriage equality or risk being dumped off future Senate tickets. Polley's brother Michael is a state MP for the lower house seat of Lyons.

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8 thoughts on “Strange company for Labor Senator at Christian summit

  1. mikeb

    “it is not appropriate for MPs to be involved with the people whose values Labor rejects,” he told Crikey this morning.” Funny – last time I checked Australia was still a free country.
    Harkins then displays the greatest of ironies in proclaiming “Helen Polley needs to have a big think about who she associates with …” Glass houses anyone?

  2. Julie Bradley

    I agree with MIKEB. I don’t support Helen Polley’s views but I support
    her right to freedom of association.

  3. michael crook

    Might I have the temerity to suggest that Polley is one of the many ALP reps who owe their continued preselection to Joe De Bruyn. If so, free speech and association doesn’t come into it, she will do what she is told.

  4. Liz45

    I recall several decades ago a friend of mine, also then a member of the ALP being threatened with expulsion because she marched near/with alleged members of the communist party. I spoke out in her defence at the Labor Women’s Conference – she won! This is really ludicrous. Let her or anyone else have their views if they wish – the majority don’t agree with these assertions! The abortion issue and the assertions put forward here are insulting to women. It assumes that we can’t make decisions for ourselves(wherever we are in the world) and would be stupid enough to submit to unethical practices such as selling a foetus?

    Jim Wallace and his cronies might have some respect and regard if they were as active in the defence of innocent victims of s*xual abuse by priests, past and probably present! He’s a member of a small group of far right church members – the majority support gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and euthanasia? I’m always amazed by the men who are SO opposed to a woman’s right to choose – when they’ve been pregnant once, then I might listen/read their views. In the meantime, they don’t have a clue, and they can be as demanding as they wish. I’m waiting for the day when they chastise? males who don’t take their fertility responsibilities seriously! They also don’t speak out about the thousands of poverty stricken Africans who’ve lost family members via HIV/AIDS?

    Hypocrites is the word I immediately think of when I hear of any of the so-called moral right wingers?Every two minutes, a woman somewhere in the world dies through child birth and/or gynecological health problems. Let them hold a discussion about that shameful statistic!

  5. AR

    Religious or political, anyone who agrees to have sufficient of their brain removed to follow a script/dogma/party line is not worth a pinch of the proverbial. Imagine if they akshally believed the claptrap!
    Which would be worse, pig ignorance or hypocrisy?

  6. odonovan grainne

    It’s healthy for politicians to mix with a diverse range of people in the community. Actually, it’s healthy for all of us to do so. It’s not as if she was giving a speech supporting the ACL’s views.

    I think the word “strange” in the lead is about as far as one can take this. It’s unusual to see, but there’s nothing wrong with it.

  7. Tyler T

    She’s free to mix with whoever she likes, equally the tasmanian labor party is free to boot her off their senate ticket and elect a member who better reflects their views.

    One would have to think this issue is likely to end her career given the strength of the left in Tasmania

  8. blocker lock

    Free to associate…? hey..? wonder if the same comments would be made if it was Al-Shabaab she associated with….
    The world is way too ignorant, she has an agenda and has to be removed. Come on ALP what gives?

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