DEPUTY LABOR leader Tanya Plibersek kicked a spectacular own goal this week, suggesting ALP MPs be bound to vote in favour of same-sex marriage should the issue again come before Parliament; her illiberal sledgehammer approach unduly politicised gay marriage, split and angered ALP MPs, and invites Liberal MPs to vote any bill on the matter down. The episode illustrates Plibersek’s ideologically driven, but inept, approach to politics.
Before it fades away in the rear-vision mirror, I wanted to make some comment about the ridiculous push by Labor’s deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, to impose a binding vote on Labor MPs in favour of gay marriage should a rumoured bill on the matter find its way before Parliament; in what has been described as “a white-hot ‘fuck you'” to opposition “leader” Bill Shorten, Plibersek wants Labor’s national conference later this year to change its platform, and enforce compulsory support of the measure on what increasingly appears to be an angry and divided ALP caucus.
Shorten, of course — like a significant number of his party’s MPs — supports gay marriage, but also a conscience vote on the initiative: and Plibersek’s remarks, paraded under a cloak of “fairness” and “anti-discrimination” as they were, nonetheless seem certain to ensure a bill to legalise gay marriage is defeated if her iron-fisted, dictatorial position is adopted by the ALP.
I’m not going to take a great deal of time on this tonight, for there are other issues on foot; and whilst I am opposed to gay marriage, I’m also quick to point out that such a fraught social policy issue ought to be decided on a conscience vote by those who are elected as representatives in Canberra, and not by some dictatorial edict from a Bollinger Bolshevik like Tanya Plibersek.
Plibersek might think this will play well in her electorate of Sydney, filled as it is with trendies and compassion-babbling chardonnay drunks — to say nothing of a significant representation of so-called LGBTIQ people — and, with one eye swivelling incessantly over her shoulder and necessitated by the designs on the seat of the
Communist Party Greens, perhaps the suggestion that Labor MPs should be forced into supporting gay marriage is one very much aligned with her own interests.
It probably plays well, too, to the storyline she is most interested in: replacing the hopeless, aimless, useless “leader” of her party, and becoming Prime Minister when the venom dished out by Labor against Tony Abbott moves enough grudging electoral support away from the Coalition to make this outcome a reality.
Frankly, if this is Tanya Plibersek’s idea of “leadership,” she’ll make even Shorten look modestly competent in due course — and that, simply stated, would amount to the achievement of the virtually impossible.
The problem here has nothing to do with gay people, or even whether you support or oppose the legalisation of gay marriage, although forcing any group of MPs to vote a certain way on issues that are universally recognised as warranting a conscience vote is a recipe for splits, defiance, recriminations, defections and good old-fashioned bloodletting.
In this case, it would also be the trigger for the Liberal Party to instruct its own MPs to vote in a bloc to defeat the measure, and in those circumstances such an action would be both justified and merited.
No, the problem is that whatever else is written or said about Plibersek’s conduct in this matter, the brain-snap moment of suggesting her party’s MPs be forced to vote in favour of gay marriage has been a lapse into exactly how the Left thinks this country should be governed.
True, Shorten has “led” an obstructionist regime that has flatly refused, in cahoots with the Greens, to allow the Abbott government’s budget (and most importantly, any attempt to fix it) through the Senate.
But I believe Shorten has chosen to behave as irresponsibly as he has out of spite. Because he thinks he’s being clever. Because he truly believes the policy-free outfit he presides over can strangle the government. Because another budget as bad as the last one will deliver Labor votes. There are all sorts of tacky and deeply contemptible base motives behind it.
Plibersek, however, is a much more left-wing creature than Shorten will ever be — some of his “maaates” notwithstanding — and the only thing that really motivates the hardcore socialist Left is a flat insistence that as they say it should be, it will be.
We’ve seen it time and before from the Greens, when they’ve walked away from various pieces of legislation because they’d rather get nothing than have to negotiate and come away with something; we see it every week on the ABC’s #QandA programme, where issues that are important to the Right are shouted down by a biased and numerically stacked panel, or ignored altogether; and we’ve seen it from the Left generally, with their outright lies and deception about global warming, or the misogyny of the Prime Minister, or the insistence that women should be installed all over the place on the basis of gender and not merit — even in light of the obvious contradiction that gender-based selection cannot and will not showcase the great capability of the best women for particular roles who simply elect for whatever reason not to be proactive as those who bang the table and insist on it.
(And I should point out, just to head off the barrage of “corrections” from all sides, that in all cases, the point is just to name a few).
The carbon tax was a good example of a left-wing leader who lied in the face of an election defeat that she would not legislate such a measure, won the handful of extra seats required to negotiate minority government, and then proceeded to do exactly what she’d promised not to do — and tried to make the legislation impossible to repeal — and this last example illustrates the end destination of the undemocratic and illiberal methods of the Left when it flexes its muscles. Without the carbon tax as a focus point, Abbott would have found it heavy going to galvanise the critical mass of support needed to get rid of the Gillard government at an election.
What Plibersek has done by trying to compel Labor MPs to vote for gay marriage is to demonstrate the use of the clenched fist to smash opposing views: the preferred instrument of “persuasion” where the Left is concerned.
Doubtless, there will be some who are overjoyed by such unequivocal and apparently strong-arm advocacy for the measure, but any reasonable thinking person ought to be alarmed.
It might be indelicate to point it out, but the cause of gay marriage, right across the world, isn’t one that grew from some uprising of grassroots support within the LGBTIQ community; it was a measure seized upon by the political Left as a potential (and, as the theory ran, potent) ideological weapon with which to wedge the Right and skewer it, and despite plenty of evidence in other democratic countries that it has achieved nothing of the sort, the ardour for such sledgehammer-like tactics by the Australian Left seemingly remains undimmed.
Some might be tempted to view the gay marriage issue as relatively innocuous compared, say, to Treasury or Foreign Affairs, but that dismissal would be a dangerous one to make in evaluating Plibersek’s latest contribution and the revealing lapse of discipline she has committed.
If Plibersek thinks the removal of choice and the dictation of outcomes — in forums where such questions are resolved by majority vote — is a suitable method of operation over gay marriage, there is no limit to what similar prescriptions she might be prepared to sanction, as leader, on every other aspect of people’s lives.
I might not support gay marriage but I have no problem whatsoever with gay people, and my pragmatic but realistic view is that if elected representatives in Canberra decide, on a vote of conscience, that the measure should be sanctioned then so be it — even if I might expend some energy to argue the counter-case before the event.
But in a democracy, there is no place for dictatorial decrees, and when they come along from time to time they tend to result in heavy punishment at the ballot box. There are plenty of examples, strewn across Australia’s political history and involving figures on all sides of the spectrum, of perceived autocratic despots being kicked out of office.
In Plibersek’s case, perhaps we’ve been spared the bother of finding out the hard way; if this is her idea of how to do things, then she should never become Prime Minister: and as contemptible a specimen as Shorten might be, Labor’s minions would be well advised to find another candidate to replace him — if they ever find the cojones to replace him at all, that is.
There remains a plenitude of left-wing dictatorships across the world despite the collapse of European Communism 25 years ago.
If the gay marriage episode is indicative of the type of “leadership” Plibersek subscribes to, perhaps she should go and live under one of those regimes instead.