Tuesday, 25 July 2017

PM Howard had 5 conscience votes in 11yr gov - Dean Smith on marriage equality

WA Lieberal Dean Smith (soon to present a private members bill on marriage equality to parliament) has set his sights on Dopey Duttons claim over the weekend that a postal plebiscite was a sensible way to "resolve" the marriage equality issue. Yes it's happening again; the Lieberals are tearing themselves apart over a simple issue as whether the likes of David and I can have the same human rights as the rest of Australians. Fuck, how hard can it be? It's like pulling teeth FFS.

Dutton's assertion that a plebiscite would "resolve" the issue is a lie. All it is is a non-binding opinion poll. Conservative MP's have already said they'd still vote no even if a plebiscite said yes. That's hardly "resolving". The fact remains that we could have marriage equality very shortly if Turnbull allowed his party a free vote on the issue as the numbers are there to pass it.

Speaking of which, Smith has also pointed out that prime minister John Howard had 5 free/conscience votes over the eleven years of his gov. That's nearly one conscience vote every couple of years on average. So why not now then? Why this obsession with a plebiscite?

"Plebiscites are actually the radical way of resolving policy issues in the Australian democratic practice. We have had two binding plebiscites, in 1916 and 1917; they were acrimonious and they divided communities. For me, as a traditional conservative, I look at that and I think to myself 'why didn't we ever experiment with them again again?'. Because our forefathers decided they were not the way to decide issues. More than that, postal plebiscites, national plebiscites are corrosive, corrosive to our parliamentary democracy," Senator Smith said.

 Mr Dutton on the weekend said a postal plebiscite was "the most sensible approach" to resolve same-sex marriage without breaking the Coalition's election commitments.

 "I think that is a much cleaner process than people running off to support private members' motions or a Labor stunt within the House of Representatives," he said. His push was then backed by Mr Abbott.


"If we were to channel John Howard's experience as prime minister, in those 11 years as prime minister, prime minister John Howard stewarded five conscience votes through the parliament, five conscience votes on issues like stem call research and therapeutic cloning. So I would argue that this is in fact the common practice, the traditional practice, in terms of resolving what are contentious issues."

 Senator Smith said same-sex marriage was similar and Coalition MPs deserved a free vote to deal with it.

 "We are seeking a free vote, a conscience vote, because that is the best practice in terms of how we deal with contentious issues."

 Continuing to require MPs to vote along party lines would be a "failure" of the parliamentary Liberal Party, he said. Sydney Morning Herald