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Playing second fiddle to Magda on marriage

  • 25 October 2017


Though I watch very little television, I've appeared on the ABC's Q&A from time to time. Last time it was to discuss refugee policy with Jim Molan who prides himself on being one of the chief architects of the policy which has stopped the boats but with the collateral damage of hundreds of proven refugees, including children, having their lives placed on a perilous hold on Manus Island and Nauru.

Before that, I was on with a somewhat inebriated Christopher Hitchens who with great flourish expressed disapproval of various teachings of the Catholic Church. Q&A is not a program I watch with great regularity. I find it too conflictual, with too little prospect of the conflict contributing to resolution of issues. I knew same sex marriage was a favourite and much overdone topic on the program. Then came the invitation to appear on a panel to discuss nothing but same sex marriage. I accepted with little hesitation. Why?

I have long been an opponent of a plebiscite on this issue. I thought the Liberal Party failed to do its job in the party room. Once the Liberal Party decided that a plebiscite was a precondition for consideration of the matter during the life of this parliament, I expressed my concern with the Labor Party and the Marriage Equality campaign rejecting the possibility of a plebiscite over the last Christmas holidays.

I thought the campaign could be done and dusted while the country was at the beach over the summer and while the politicians and the Canberra press gallery took their overseas holidays. Everyone could have returned to Canberra after Australia Day and the whole thing could have been concluded in February this year. But it was not to be. So now, we've all endured a protracted campaign, exacerbated by Tony Abbott's continued side swipes at Malcolm Turnbull and by the Turnbull team's trailing in the Newspoll 21 times in a row.

I had decided to vote 'yes'. When asked, I was happy to say I was voting yes, and I was happy to say why I was voting yes and why it is important for our parliament to do some further hard work on the issue of religious freedom once the yes vote is in. Even the most convinced 'no' voters need to admit that the issue is not going away, and that the Commonwealth Parliament will legislate for same sex marriage either before or