No Republic: It’s Time To Dump Turnbull As Prime Minister

IN 15 torrid months, Malcolm Turnbull has squandered stellar polling numbers, wasted six months on incoherent “tax debates,” let senior conservatives twist in the wind and almost lost an election. Enough is enough: incapable of governing, Turnbull has turned to the issue that cost him his leadership in 2009 — carbon pricing — and his repugnant signature policy, a republic. The Liberal Party must cut its losses, and cast this abysmal leader adrift.

In making Malcolm Bligh Turnbull leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister on 14 September last year, in a daylight ambush against a sitting but deeply unpopular incumbent, even Turnbull’s most ardent acolytes must have known — in their heart of hearts — that there was a reasonable prospect their man would have to be replaced, and sooner rather than later.

With Turnbull now publicly contemplating timeframes to revive his repugnant signature policy — a republic in Australia — that time has arrived.

This column, whilst hospitably disposed toward Turnbull on a purely personal level, has been flatly and resolutely opposed to his return as Liberal Party leader ever since his eviction from the post in December 2009 and, if brutally candid, was never in favour of his ascension to the position in the first place.

We said as much back in February last year, when former PM Tony Abbott was about to survive the “leadership challenge by an empty chair,” and were unequivocal about the fact that Malcolm Turnbull was no solution as Prime Minister.

It is a matter of record that reluctantly, and with deep regret, this column withdrew support for Abbott over his obstinate refusal to jettison his divisive, counter-productive Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, some months afterwards, and it is a matter of history that his refusal to do so was ultimately responsible — in part, at least — for triggering the second, successful move on his position.

But at no time did we regard Turnbull, in any way, as a suitable replacement — anything but — and in fact, many of the risks this column warned were implicit in a Turnbull Prime Ministership have materialised to almost deadly effect.

The flood of new support Turnbull was supposed to bring to the Liberals never arrived; be it for the basic strategic mistake of failing to go to an immediate election, or the disinclination for lefties who genuinely like Turnbull to actually vote for him, the landslide victory many of his adherents believed Turnbull would deliver remains a fantasy.

What did arrive in its stead was a return of the flawed judgement and political tin ear that fatally tarnished his initial stint as leader; from botched reshuffles to the kind of elitist posturing (green tea and craft beer, anyone?) that is such a turn-off to the vast majority of voters outside the chardonnay-swilling latte belts of inner-city urban areas, it became readily apparent that Turnbull hadn’t learned much in six years away from the Liberal leadership.

The failure to call an election for December 2015 is, with the benefit of hindsight, (although we said so at the time) the pivot point for the Turnbull government’s fortunes; facing the charlatan Bill Shorten, whose leadership was to all appearances fatally damaged by the Heydon Royal Commission — and who was set to be dumped by his colleagues if he didn’t take the face-saving path of resignation — Turnbull was spooked out of a December election following the AFP raid on the home of key lieutenant Mal Brough: the episode let Shorten off the hook, and allowed the ALP to take heart.

And as sure as night followed day, the Liberal Party’s “march toward a return to opposition,” which we also warned of last February, duly recommenced.

The wild, bold, hysterical lashing out (typified by “Utegate” during Turnbull’s first stint as leader) was replaced with a form of stupefied inertia and the utter aversion to any kind of risk at all, as Turnbull wasted the first half of this year on an excruciating “reform debate” over tax that was neither a debate, nor led to any meaningful advocacy of genuine reform.

During that process, Turnbull hung his Treasurer (and putative future leadership prospect) Scott Morrison out to dry, with Morrison’s long-term political future perhaps terminally compromised by his association with various half-baked tax proposals that were floated, allowed to be savaged by Labor, and hastily withdrawn; this was not conducive to the exercise of political authority, nor a posture of political strength in difficult parliamentary conditions, and it weakened the government significantly.

The reforms made to Senate electoral process, whilst admittedly an incremental improvement, were piddling, and extracted at great cost to the government in terms of what little goodwill it enjoyed from the Senate crossbench: that most (but not all) of the antagonised crossbenchers were re-elected constitutes an ongoing potential source of trouble.

But the campaign ahead of elections on 2 July was turgid, ineffectual, and a downright fiasco; it enabled the resuscitated Shorten to run rings around the Coalition. Had Shorten not overreached in the final ten days with his brazen “Mediscare” lies, it is likely Labor would have won.

As it stands, victory by a single seat is hardly a triumph of which Turnbull, nor the government generally, can be proud: reduced to three seats and a third of a percentage point more than Abbott achieved in 2010, it is difficult to argue the Coalition retains any kind of clear mandate at all.

There have been botched reshuffles and ministerial scandals — the latter largely the consequence of the former — as Turnbull’s defective judgement and wide vindictive streak toward conservative Liberals has seen the government pay the price for the wrong people being elevated (or retained) on the frontbench; even now, there are political liabilities (George Brandis, take a bow) who continue to enjoy ministerial office purely on account of their fidelity to Turnbull when their political performance dictates otherwise.

And the faulty apparatus Turnbull inherited from Abbott — the inability to sell a message to the public, the ineptitude of Coalition “strategists” and “tacticians,” the inability to fatally wound the imbecilic and unelectable Shorten, even after the union Royal Commission — continues even now to misfire unretarded, with the government incapable of turning even a victory (like getting its union accountability legislation through Parliament) into any kind of momentum-builder with the general public.

But it is the traditional Turnbull agenda — gay marriage, carbon taxes (of whatever variety), and a republic — that is the most insidious aspect of his unsuitability to be Prime Minister, and this agenda has, since the narrow escape on 2 July, now fully filtered back onto the Liberal Party playlist: and this agenda will cost the party dearly unless fundamental and drastic change is now taken.

Gay marriage has been allowed to become a political football in Australia for far too long; as regular readers know, the liberal in me says gay people should do as they like (provided, like the rest of us, it doesn’t hurt anyone else) whilst the conservative in me resists on the basis marriage is at its genesis a religious institution that has never incorporated same-sex unions.

Even so, the only way to resolve such a fraught issue would appear to be to allow the public to decide; I actually think the French have the right idea on this, whereby all couples get the same legal union, and then those who choose to solemnise the act can do so in a religious or civil ceremony. The churches shouldn’t be forced to marry gay couples if they don’t want to. But this whole issue has been squibbed, with the task of getting a plebiscite through the Senate beyond the capability the Turnbull junta. Should same-sex marriage be legalised in a vote of Parliament on Turnbull’s watch, it is likely to inflict enormous damage upon the Liberal Party politically as the direct consequence of a fundamental breach of faith with its core support base.

A couple of weeks ago — like a kid in a lolly shop, unable to contain himself — Turnbull sent another future conservative leadership prospect, Josh Frydenberg, out to fly the kite of “a different kind of carbon pricing” in the form of an “emissions intensity scheme;” at a time when electricity bills continue to rise, and Victorians face average further increases of $100 per household next year thanks to the closure of the Hazelwood power station, this was obsession and lunacy masquerading as “vision.”

When the inevitable public backlash hit social and mainstream media channels like a tidal wave, Turnbull left Frydenberg to twist and dangle in the wind: just like he did to Morrison earlier in the year.

But desperate for an agenda, desperate to respond to naysayers and the critics, desperate to find favour from someone, somewhere — desperate, in fact, to be seen to be doing anything at all — Turnbull unwisely chose to use an address last night to the 25th anniversary function of the Australian Republican Movement to dust off the rancid old cheese of “a vision” for an Australia with an “Australian Head of State.”

Readers can access indicative coverage of this odious call to arms from today’s press here and here.

Never mind this change was roundly defeated at a referendum 16 years ago; never mind reputable public opinion polling shows support for retaining the monarchy surging, particularly among younger voters; and never mind the fact that there is no substance whatsoever behind the blather and hot air about Australia “growing up” and “taking its place in the world:” nobody suggests New Zealand or Canada are somehow immature forelock tuggers — and neither is Australia.

And of course, never mind the fact that the billions of dollars it would cost to turn Australia into a republic would achieve precisely nothing of any economic, political or social value; it wouldn’t fix problems with Aborigines, the immigrant community, the poor, small businesses being priced out of their markets by rising costs, or the woeful state of the federal budget, which continues to haemorrhage almost a billion dollars per week.

No, in the world of Turnbull, this mad, bad, lefty trifecta — gay marriage, carbon taxes, and a republic — is something he was and is determined to pursue at any cost: even, in the case of a republic, at the risk of destroying the stability of the entire system of government Australia enjoys under its present constitutional arrangements.

No republican has ever provided a persuasive argument about how life would be better for ordinary, hard-working Australians were the Crown to be dispensed with; no republican has ever offered a convincing reason why fixing the real (and growing) socio-economic problems facing this country should be brushed aside to enable the expenditure of billions of dollars chasing a stupid Nirvana that doesn’t even exist.

Australian Head of State? Look no further than the current Governor-General, or to most of the past ten of his predecessors: this entire nonsense is built on a false premise.

But be all of that as it may, this column made it very clear a year ago that it would take a “wait and see” approach to Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister — as much from loyalty to the Liberal Party as from any genuine desire to see him succeed — and even as it quickly became apparent Turnbull simply wasn’t up to the job (as long suspected), we were gracious enough to describe that approach as more “wait” than “see.”

Well, I think we have seen enough.

If Malcolm Turnbull contests another election as Liberal Party leader, the Coalition will be slaughtered; it isn’t enough to rely on the abhorrent nature of the opposition “leader” to get the government across the line again, and after more than a year in the role it is clear Turnbull peaked in his first few weeks in office. In any case, it seems unlikely he can skewer Shorten from this point if he hasn’t already managed to do so.

The transaction costs of any mid-term leadership change must be weighed against the realistic scope for such a change to provide the opportunity for political improvement; in this sense, I believe it is absolutely pointless for the Liberal Party to continue with Malcolm Turnbull unless it is resigned to a lengthy stint in opposition.

I am mindful, of course, that many of the problems that were meant to be solved by the last Liberal leadership change — strategy, tactics, mass communication, policy rigour — remain unresolved, and any further change now simply must be accompanied by a wholesale overhaul of the Liberal back of house once and for all.

But the Turnbull agenda — fuelled by the Turnbull style, which in turn is code for simply alienating conservative voters who constitute the great silent majority in Australia — is a guaranteed recipe for defeat: those voters who want it will vote for Labor and the Greens, and so will a great many usual Coalition voters (even if through preferences) in disgust unless the Liberal Party reconnects with its base.

The Turnbull experiment has been a failure, and its continuance will condemn the government to the electoral doom that seems its likely fate in about 18 months’ time.

Whilst offering no opinion at this time as to whom the replacement should be, it is time for Liberal MPs to act: and to rid the party of the scourge of a Turnbull leadership that has plagued it, in actual form or in the shape of a stalking horse, for almost a decade longer than it should have been permitted to.

 

More Lies: Bill Shorten Nails His Own Coffin Shut

THE ELECTION RESULT is all but a foregone conclusion now, with an increasingly rattled Bill Shorten seemingly unable to make a case for office based even remotely in fact; not content with the fairy story of a Liberal plot to privatise Medicare, the ALP “leader” has resorted to selective misquotations of the Prime Minister and cynical exploitation of gay couples in a “defining moment” that sounds the death rattle of Labor’s election campaign.

For something a little different, I’ve been contemplating recording a video comment at the end of the week to actually talk to readers about some of my final conclusions before polling day, but as fate would have it — and as readers with germ distributors children in their households will understand — a vicious ear and sinus infection that struck late on Sunday night has temporarily left me half deaf and unable to speak without sounding half drunk (or at least, that’s how it sounds to me at present). If the antibiotics I’m on clear the worst of it in the next day or so, we may indeed have a conversation on Friday; and if we can, it might be an opportunity for a more interactive comment and discussion forum on election eve (which was the thinking behind the idea in the first place). Stay tuned.

The curious thing from a Labor campaign that was always based on “smart” answers and being just a bit too clever — or arrogantly cocksure of itself — for its own good is that until less than a fortnight ago, it seemed increasingly likely that however improbably and however distastefully, Bill Shorten would end up moving into the Prime Ministerial suite next week.

In some respects this isn’t surprising at all; the Coalition has spent three years unable to manage its budget measures through the Senate, unable to sell any kind of message to the wider electorate, and unable to puncture tactics used by the ALP that have variously been opportunistic, shabby, duplicitous, and wantonly destructive, gambling with the welfare of this country in pursuit of a naked obsession with power for its own sake.

I make no apology for labelling Bill Shorten “a lying prick” in this column on Monday, for that is precisely how he has chosen to conduct himself; personally (and like millions of other Australians) I am absolutely fed up with the ethical debasement and entrenched dishonesty that too often passes for political debate these days — with the Labor Party the chief proponent of this dubious art — and with Shorten, despite serious competition for the mantle from the likes of Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard, being the worst perpetrator of it of the lot.

On what planet — on what planet, for goodness’ sake — would any decent (and rational) individual solemnly declare that the Coalition intended to privatise Medicare — a monolith that is inadequately funded despite record real levels of expenditure on health, would constitute a dreadful and unacceptable risk proposition for any serious investor in healthcare assets, and which loses about $10bn per year?

The only reason to do so — and it plumbs the depths of irresponsibility coming from a man purporting to be fit to lead Australia — is to frighten shitless the poor, the very sick, the very old, and the helpless: the very people Labor, and Shorten especially, claim to act for.

Shorten knows that there is not an atom of truth or fact to his shrill claims about what the Coalition would do to Medicare, and as I observed yesterday, the possible privatisation of the payments system that forms part of Medicare (which is ancient, outdated, sorely overdue for replacement and close to dysfunctional) does not in any way substantiate nor legitimise the ridiculous and reprehensible statements Shorten has been making.

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke — whose government introduced Medicare in the first place — lowered his colours this month by agreeing to buy into Shorten’s bankrupt politicking on the issue, and any Labor person who genuinely thinks their “leader” is onto something ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Will it shift votes against the government? Some, almost certainly, yes, and that’s the truly offensive aspect of this episode: people who’ve been scared by Labor (be they gullible, stupid, or just downright terrified) will support the ALP for the base reason of an utter lie told to them by people they believed they could trust.

But without bogging down on Medicare, even Shorten found a new low to plumb yesterday, with his presentation of a “defining moment” in the campaign that was no more than showing an ability to cut and paste words together to form whatever sentences and/or messages are desired.

It was, Shorten cheerily told the National Press Club, the “gaffe that marked the end of the Prime Minister’s credibility:” a statement attributed to Malcolm Turnbull that what political parties say they will support and what they do in practice are two different things; and one of those breathtaking displays of chutzpah from Shorten, this time trying to crucify Turnbull over the exact sin he is guilty of committing himself — rank dishonesty and the inability for anyone to be able to trust him.

What was missing was the rest of the Turnbull statement.

“You have seen the Labor Party has opposed many measures of ours at which they have subsequently supported or subsequently changed their position on. The best-known of those is obviously the School Kids Bonus, which they made an iconic issue and launched petitions and campaigns and said they were going to fight all the way to election day to restore it and then did a very quick backflip on that.”

Shorten, in the past week, has taken to rhetorically asking voters, “who do you trust?” in attempting to frame his case for office.

The numbers on his election costings don’t add up — an inconsistency he simply waves away — despite the level of debt in this country rightly troubling an increasing proportion of the electorate, engineered as it was by the ALP in the first place.

The magic pudding equation of how spending can be ramped up, whilst failing to raise taxes or cut other spending sufficiently to pay for it, and whilst paying down Commonwealth debt — all of which Labor insists it will do — is an algebraic anomaly for which Shorten has no answer; its costings discredited and its own admission that the national books would deteriorate under its management are paid trite lipservice by the assertion that in a decade’s time (the political equivalent of the never-never) everything will be all right.

Who do you trust? The answer, almost certainly, is not Bill Shorten.

And just to cook up a diversion, Shorten has taken to trying to out-Green the Greens on gay marriage, claiming the first piece of legislation a Shorten government tables would be a bill to legalise the measure. But this — apparently being used as a last-gasp stunt to save a couple of seats in inner-western Sydney from the Greens’ clutches — is unlikely to resonate with the majority of the electorate either, which is just as fed up with being marginalised whilst minorities are feted as it is with being lied to.

There now seems to be a consensus that despite throwing everything at winning this election (however dubious the calibre of that effort), Labor will lose on Saturday; it is a judgement I have been cautious about endorsing until just these past few days — I thought Malcolm was dead in the water two weeks ago — but whilst Turnbull hasn’t exactly given Australians a clear and tangible set of reasons to re-elect him, the efforts of Shorten to shoot himself in the foot in recent weeks transcend anything Malcolm might, or might not, have done.

I’m not suggesting the Liberal Party will be an especially deserving winner on Saturday, despite my decades-long membership of that fine organisation; a timid and confused period under a new leader has produced a timid and decidedly thin election agenda against a backdrop of scandal and disarray, which has been advocated during a campaign seemingly designed to ignore (or wish away) the most important issues the country faces and at times appearing contrived to actually throw the election away.

And I’m not suggesting Malcolm Turnbull will be re-elected in particularly robust shape — the likely nightmare scenario of an equally unworkable and wilfully obstructive Senate to the one it replaces will be but one symptom of the lack of voter enthusiasm for the government — although the result in the lower house, whilst now almost certain to be an outright Coalition win, could yet fall anywhere between a simple majority of 76 of the 150 seats or something approaching a landslide: there are three days of campaigning, and scope for everyone on all sides to stick their feet in their mouths, to go.

Either way, Shorten has gifted the Prime Minister a win: that’s the bottom line.

For the Coalition’s agenda — thin as it may be — is infinitely preferable to the scorched Earth outcomes that would result from any serious attempt to implement the half-baked platform being peddled by Shorten, and I think the electorate has realised, if sullenly, that reality: add in a few poor judgement calls (like admitting Labor would legislate the very budget cuts it spent two years flatly blocking) and a bit of bad luck in the form of world events likely to drive domestic sentiment behind the sitting government (the “Brexit” vote in Britain), and Shorten is as good as cooked.

And when it comes to the would-be Prime Minister of Australia deliberately misrepresenting his opponent in the fashion Shorten did yesterday, that is another lie; the sin of omission is just as bad as an outright untruth. The accusations Shorten have been making against the Coalition have been disgraceful, but his attempt to frame Turnbull as a liar by deliberately misquoting him borders on defamatory.

It should surprise nobody, of course, for Shorten — since the day he became opposition “leader,” if not years or even decades earlier — has repeatedly demonstrated that there is no depth to which he will not descend, nor no low too low for him to plumb, in his obsessive quest for power and self-advancement.

Yesterday was a “defining moment,” all right: it was the time Shorten managed to nail his own coffin shut.

Pray for Shorten’s sake that the final few days of the campaign are mercifully swift; his party, if it is a repository for any intelligence whatsoever, will do what it had initially determined to do in November once the election is out of the way, and toss Shorten overboard. Nobody will miss him when he has gone.

The responsibility — and the blame — for electoral defeat on Saturday must be sheeted home to Shorten, and to Shorten alone.

In the meantime, any further utterances from the Labor camp — and particularly from Shorten himself — should be recognised for what they are: the death rattle of a campaign that remained alive for longer than it deserved to, and which amounts to no more than the desperate ranting of an outfit well aware that it faces imminent, and certain, defeat.

Nothing shocks me in politics, and very little surprises me these days, either. But it never ceases to amaze me just how low the ALP can sink, and once again, Shorten has demonstrated that the ethical crevasse into which he has sucked his party is a bottomless abyss indeed.

 

Gay Marriage Debacle Will Cost Abbott

ALREADY REELING from the fiasco over former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and a travel rorts scandal that seems to be damaging the government far more than the opposition, Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s maladroit shenanigans over the fraught issue of gay marriage stand to cost him dearly: if not to signal the end of his leadership once and for all, then to perhaps seal a historic defeat for the conservative parties after a single term in office.

Sorry, sorry, sorry…firstly, an apology to all readers for disappearing for the past few days; not only has my heavy schedule impacted my ability to post as often as I would like, but Tuesday night saw me cause the diversion to Sydney of a flight from Brisbane to Melbourne with a medical issue.

That issue — after an uncomfortable night in a Sydney hospital — seems to be resolved, but as ever with these things, it’s a reminder to look after those around you, and to remember things can change in a flash: and I beseech you all to take care of those close to you, and if you were on that flight and I inconvenienced you, then I am very apologetic.

But back to our discussion…thanks to my iPad I was nonetheless able to stay abreast of what has developed over an explosive 48 hours in Australian politics, and where the fraught issue of gay marriage is concerned I think it entirely possible that we may well have entered the final days of the Prime Ministership of Tony Abbott.

Let’s be clear: readers know that from a liberal perspective, my view is that gay people should be free to do as they please (provided — just like the rest of us — they’re not hurting anyone); as a conservative, I am inclined to the preservation of the traditional definition of marriage, and of the competing strands of philosophical thought it is the latter that prevails where my overall opinion is concerned.

Even so, as former Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen might have said, there are ways and means of doing things; and just as Abbott, his closest colleagues, and the advisory pool of alleged tacticians and strategists around them have botched so many other things since the Coalition returned to office two years ago, it now seems they have completely botched this.

It is important to remember, at the beginning of my remarks today, that at roughly the same stage of the last term of Parliament — and as opposition leader — Abbott arrived at a carefully nuanced position designed to kick the problem of dealing with the gay marriage issue down the road and out of sight, lest it impede his ability to win the looming 2013 election.

At that time, Abbott claimed that the Coalition party room as it was then constituted had gone to the 2010 election promising to maintain the traditional formulation of marriage spelt out in the Marriage Act — that marriage in Australia consisted of the legal union of one man and one woman — and that the matter would be reviewed “if it again came before Parliament in the next term,” meaning after the 2013 election.

Few would attempt to argue that gay marriage has not, once again, landed before Parliament for its consideration.

Yet now, the Abbott formulation has changed: according to the crafty but slimy position enunciated this week, the Coalition — it is now claimed — went to the 2013 election on a platform of traditional marriage, and that any change to the Marriage Act is now a matter for the next Parliament: the one due to be elected by the Australian public at some point in the next 12 months or so.

In other words, anyone holding Abbott to a literal interpretation of his remarks on this subject is perfectly entitled to conclude that the formulation used in 2012 to avoid the gay marriage issue is, well, being used again to avoid it now on the basis it may be dealt with after another federal election.

And in turn, a public vote — if the Coalition is returned, naturally — will be held; not in conjunction with the election, which would be cheaper as an electoral exercise, and after a possible vote in Parliament on gay marriage which has also received the “kick it down the road” treatment from the Prime Minister and his people.

Some may be surprised to learn that as an opponent of legalising gay marriage I am nonetheless mortified by the tactics that are being used here; in some respects the issue itself — gay marriage — has nothing to do with it, but rather amounting to yet another highly disturbing exposition of Coalition politics at its hamfisted worst: the only variety this government, stewarded by those duds to whom Abbott remains stubbornly and misguidedly loyal, appear capable of executing.

But indefinitely killing off issues any way possible — especially those that have an indisputable but unquantifiable level of rising community support, the disproportionate noise emanating from some quarters notwithstanding — is not the way to govern in a liberal democratic country; yet Abbott and his cabal appear to have determined to do precisely that.

On this occasion, a “Coalition position” has been decreed: surely, even where the confines of party discipline are involved, the Liberal and National party rooms should have devised their own separate positions. But by including the Nationals in a “Coalition position” in the knowledge National Party MPs are overwhelmingly opposed to gay marriage, the eventual vote in Parliament has effectively been rigged to secure a predetermined result.

I don’t actually have a problem with the concept of Cabinet ministers being required to resign if they want to vote against the government and support a gay marriage bill (or, indeed, to vote against an agreed Cabinet position on any other piece of legislation): this is, after all, wholly appropriate, and goes to the heart of the principle of Cabinet solidarity.

The problem is that I don’t think, on what is effectively a conscience matter, there should be an agreed Cabinet position at all: all MPs from all parties, should a bill to legislate for gay marriage come before Parliament, should be entitled to vote according to his or her conscience.

Ironically, were a conscience vote to occur, such a bill would most likely be defeated anyway, but by forcing Coalition MPs to vote against to make that defeat a certainty merely means the issue will return to the agenda the moment the Coalition is ejected from office — and once a Labor/Greens government, far more inclined to allow the measure to pass, is elected.

When that happens, Abbott’s stonewalling and tackily clever footwork will have been for nought and in fact, will probably only have served to push some waverers across the threshold to support the change purely as a reaction to the tawdry way it has been repeatedly kicked down the road to date.

I should also observe that binding Coalition MPs to vote a gay marriage bill down is every bit as objectionable as Labor, as per the wont of wannabe leader Tanya Plibersek, contemplating binding its own MPs to vote in favour, and is every bit as deserving of contempt and ridicule.

Members of Parliament are elected to govern, not dodge issues; if there is one criticism of the Abbott government above all others that I would make from its conservative flank it is that very little has happened on the watch of this government, and that much of what has actually been done has been botched. Spectacularly mishandled. As I said earlier, it is getting to the point the actual issues are secondary to the mechanisms with which they are being dealt. And the latest formulation on gay marriage is an object lesson in precisely the kind of thing I’m talking about.

This article from The Australian rather neatly sums up just how much grief the Coalition has inflicted on itself; only when it is noted that two-thirds of the government frontbench sits outside the “Against” grouping can the full extent of the stitch-up to boot the gay marriage issue at least two years further down the road that has occurred be realised.

In the meantime, the “unified” Coalition position comprises no fewer than seven completely different positions on the issue — and one overriding directive to vote against it for the duration of this term of Parliament. It scarcely smacks of “good government,” let alone any coherent kind of response.

I think that if a “people’s vote” — be it an indicative plebiscite or a referendum — were held, the “yes” lobby would get a nasty shock: Australians are essentially conservative folk who might vote Labor governments to power from time to time, but at heart we’re a naturally cautious lot who are inherently wary of anything more than incremental change — and legalising gay marriage is far from incremental.

But there you have it: a “people’s vote” it will be, until or unless either a re-elected Coalition finds a pretext on which to kick it down the road another three years, or a Labor government just legislates it. As a conservative opposed to gay marriage, I’m horrified by the way this has been handled. And as I have argued previously, as opposed as I am, this issue demands a conscience vote, not some cynically stitched-together fix.

But there are bigger issues at play here, and at some point soon (perhaps over the weekend) I intend to do an umbrella piece on the Coalition’s state of political health, which on any criteria is far from robust; I had in fact started working on it on Tuesday night as I waited to board my flight back to Melbourne — and as I shared at the outset, that particular journey didn’t end where, or when, I expected it to.

Yet with the mutterers muttering over Abbott’s leadership even before this latest bickering and indulgence over gay marriage — even if orthodox wisdom suggests it’s too late in the parliamentary cycle to switch leaders — the events of the past 48 hours are scarcely going to cool things down; in fact, there are credible suggestions doing the rounds of a Julie Bishop-led ticket with Malcolm Turnbull as deputy and Treasurer. Should such a ticket firm into a serious prospect (and provided, of course, Malcolm is genuine about any stated preparedness to limit his ambition to service as deputy Liberal leader) then Tony Abbott might yet find himself under the real threat of losing his job.

Readers will recall that when the Liberal leadership appeared in play back in February, I backed Bishop as the most credible replacement option in any leadership change and the likeliest to lead the party to an election win — and if push comes to shove, I still do, even if she’s a moderate and I’m a conservative.

The simple fact is that there’s only so long the numerical support of the dominant Liberal Right can be counted on to continue to back Abbott in the face of a repetitive cycle of botched initiatives, own goals, thoroughly inept communication and media activities, and abysmal political strategies and tactics.

At some point, one of these snafus is going to represent a trigger point for the hardheads of the Right abandoning Abbott and seeking out an alternative leadership arrangement that, whilst not perhaps comprised of its own people, is at least palatable and can be supported as the price to pay for a return of cohesion and political effectiveness.

At least if Abbott is rolled, some of the incompetents who have “led” government activity behind the scenes will find their careers in politics terminated, which is no more or less than they deserve.

I don’t think gay marriage is an issue that will ever swing the result of a federal election on its own, but the way this has been handled could alienate enough additional ordinary people to do so: after all, nobody would accuse this government of having deft political touch, or silky skills where its relations with the broad community are concerned.

At some point, something is going to signal the beginning of the end for Abbott — either sooner, at the hands of his own colleagues, or later, at the hands of voters at an election next year.

If the disgusting circus over Bronwyn Bishop’s travel entitlements wasn’t enough to do it, this issue just might be. And were it to prove so, the irony — given the staunch and active opposition to gay marriage that has marked much of Abbott’s time as Liberal leader — would be an exquisite one indeed.

 

Bravado Aside, ALP Conference A Disaster For Shorten

DESPITE THE SEMANTICS, the spin and the tepid claims to Labor Party unity, the weekend’s ALP conference was an unmitigated disaster for Bill Shorten; effectively rolled by his deputy on key agenda items and abandoned by his leadership group over the issue he arrogated to himself to “lead” over — asylum boat turnbacks — it is now impossible to see how Shorten can remain “leader,” let alone stake any serious claim to the Prime Ministership.

…and to put not too fine a point on it, this has been a conference that damages Labor irrespective of who leads it.

Let’s start with what the ALP national conference didn’t feature (and/or was so unimportant to Labor as to evade public notice).

Nothing on the economy, economic management, balancing the federal budget, or reducing the $350 billion national debt pile the ALP is directly responsible for, courtesy of its most recent masquerade as a federal government.

Nothing on reform, or at least not in the orthodox sense: no tax reform, no labour market reform, no public debate over the relationship between Canberra and the states, nothing on fixing the Commonwealth electoral system, and nothing on reforming its own lethal association with the union movement.

Nothing more than a bit of lip service to those issues Labor arrogantly and misguidedly thinks underpins its “competence” — Health and Education — when the party’s idea of health reform is abolishing the private health insurance rebate, and its idea of education funding takes the shape of unlegislated 2013 election bribes whose currency expired the day Labor was hurled from government in an avalanche.

And nothing — speaking of the unions — of the indecent, improper and/or downright criminal misconduct the Heydon Royal Commission has been oxygenating for most of the past year.

Yet whereas this Labor conference lacked any cogent agenda that might have set out the ALP’s credentials to seek an election win and form a sober, moderate, rational government of the Centre, it made up for this deficiency in spades with a stunning indulgence of the party’s hard Left that all but destroys Bill Shorten’s case to remain Labor’s “leader” — if there ever was one, that is.

Coming on top of the ridiculous triple-whammy carbon tax announced by Shorten last week and the facile, fatuous commitment to increasing the Renewable Energy Target to 50% (and the accompanying, wholly unsubstantiated assertion this would drive down power prices), the only thing that can now prevent Labor from suffering a second consecutive landslide election defeat is the missteps of the Abbott government (whose capacity to deliver in this regard should not be underestimated).

But really, anyone who believes this conference is a political positive for the ALP is delusional.

To be sure, the ALP conference has sent Shorten out with something that on the surface he can claim provides him with a “win,” but that victory — buried as it is somewhere within the length, depth and breadth of the shaft into which his “leadership” has been cast — is an illusory triumph indeed.

Emerging with the ability to exercise “an option” in government to turn back asylum seeker boats, Shorten’s adventure in back-me-or-sack-me brinkmanship has elicited for him the worst possible outcome, with conference tepidly endorsing the stance, and with the three most senior figures on the party’s Left directly and indirectly defying their “leader.”

Former leadership aspirant Anthony Albanese had the decency to vote against the measure outright, so deeply held is his belief (with which I vehemently disagree) that the measure is wrong; this in itself is a bad enough look for the embattled Shorten as he tries valiantly and pointlessly to hold onto his position.

But worse materialised from the conduct of Penny Wong and probable leader-in-waiting, Tanya Plibersek, who breathtakingly handed their votes to proxies — who in turn duly opposed the measure — whilst claiming, po-faced, not to have opposed their “leader.” The chutzpah is astonishing.

The other big issue confronted by the ALP conference was gay marriage, with forces allied to Plibersek lining up to ram through a resolution making a vote in favour of the measure binding on Labor MPs, and the “compromise” — that MPs will instead have a conscience vote on any bill that appears before 2019, after which support for it will become compulsory, presumably after Labor thinks it will return to government — is ridiculous.

Other “initiatives” resolved by conference included the censure of party stalwart Martin Ferguson — one of the few sane voices left in its ranks — over his remarks earlier in the year favouring privatisation in some circumstances as part of a wider overall agenda for reform.

The conference resolved that in the fullness of time, 50% of its MPs will be women, which invites the rather obvious charge that it will now preselect women just for the hell of it, rather than on merit and because female candidates are the best on offer. It is a dreadful, tokenistic, patronising look.

And just for good measure — and in a sop to the ultra-hard Left within and without — conference agreed to a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state in a move that will all but destroy Labor’s relationship with Australia’s sizeable Jewish community, and leaves it a footstep away from joining the disgusting so-called BDS campaign against Israel — Boycott, Divest, Sanctions — so bloody-mindedly pursued by the hardest of hardcore left-wing elements at the Communist Party Greens, and by other lunatic left-wing fringe groups across the world.

Readers can access some excellent additional coverage of the fallout from the ALP national conference herehere, and here.

Just what planet the Fairfax press is on, however, is unknown, with usually reasonable columnist Mark Kenny asserting Shorten “rises” and “shines” in the conference’s aftermath as Albanese and the Left “wane,” but it does seem Fairfax is doing its best to put a brave face on things on Shorten’s behalf.

Anyone who thinks the weekend’s events represent a point in time at which the “leader” hit his straps, or came into his own, or any other euphemism for fulfilling a “leadership” potential that never existed in the first place is kidding themselves.

The simple fact is that the overwhelming preference of the Labor rank-and-file for a left-wing leader — as indisputably evidenced in the silly leadership ballot farce the ALP engaged in late in 2013 — has now been reflected by a conference that was not empowered to remove Shorten from the leadership but has nonetheless seen to it that the gaping wounds from the thousand sabre cuts it inflicted are visible wherever Shorten now goes, and irrespective of what he says.

At the bottom line, his own senior colleagues — on whom he depends for whatever infinitesimal sliver of authority he may once have enjoyed — have deserted him.

On the positions Shorten wanted to carry, he has failed to score an outright win — see the “option” to turn back boats, which you can bet would never be used — or simply made to fritter his time away ahead of the Left’s position (and the opposite to Shorten’s) becoming binding on the Labor Party, as has been the case with gay marriage.

When you combine the flagrant and wilful defiance of Shorten on these and other measures with the issues the conference failed to consider at all, and add in the fancies like the censure of Ferguson and the foolish gender quota, it’s clear that far from providing a springboard from which to launch its attack on the coming election campaign, Labor has instead manoeuvred its way to the equivalent of the lifeboat dock on the Titanic: after the last boat on board had put to sea.

There is no compelling narrative for a Labor government to be elected after the weekend’s events, that much is obvious.

And Shorten — doltish and mindlessly vacuous as his “leadership” has been — is as good as finished, and finished at the hands of his own people, no less.

The final takeout for the voting public is that irrespective of what might coax a Labor vote from those in marginal Coalition seats, there is now no substantive issue at all on which the ALP has a position that is clear, unequivocal, credible, or even believable.

And the end result for the party itself has been that thanks to the manoeuvres of its leaders on the Labor Left, the party has taken a giant step toward the hard Left — and away from the ground on which elections in this country are always won or lost.

Tanya Plibersek will probably become Labor leader as soon as the 48 votes required to overturn Shorten’s “leadership” in the 80-strong caucus can be assembled: an enterprise that may or may not precede the looming election that could come as soon as October or November.

But lest anyone on the lunatic Left get too excited by the prospect, the damage inflicted upon the ALP at the weekend is such that its electoral prospects have been compromised — perhaps fatally so — irrespective of who might take on the role of its leader.

Labor has spent three days making itself an unelectable force of the hard socialist Left. No similar entity offering a similar agenda has ever been elected to government in Australian history.

That record is likely to be repeated unless an outbreak of common sense and sanity occurs somewhere influential in the ALP, and quickly.

But if it doesn’t — and you’d have to bet it won’t — then Labor will only have itself to blame, and if the consequences are that both Shorten and Plibersek are killed off politically, then neither will be able to proclaim themselves to be faultless.

 

The Liberal Party Must Allow MPs A Free Vote On Gay Marriage

I DON’T SUPPORT gay marriage, but the issue will arise repeatedly if improperly considered by Parliament; with some in the ALP trying to bind MPs to a “yes” vote and the Communist Party Greens hard-wired to impose the measure in disregard of opposition, ample evidence is appearing that gay marriage is the thin edge of the wedge for the global Left. The Liberal Party must allow MPs to vote as they believe. The cards will fall where they will.

When credible and well-sourced stories begin to appear in the reputable mainstream press — suggesting that Coalition frontbenchers personally supportive of gay marriage resign from the government, or that Liberal MPs who support gay marriage be removed from their seats at preselection, or similar heavy-handed propositions bordering on a totalitarian wielding of the Right’s dominant numbers in the party room are advanced — I would say the Liberal Party is saddling itself with a rather large problem.

Readers know I have no truck with the push to legislate gay marriage, for reasons we have discussed ad infinitum in this column.

But in the face of incessant political pressure locally and internationally on this issue, attempts to either turn the debate in Australia into a sham or to smash it to pieces with an iron fist will simply ensure it returns to the political agenda again, and again, and again — until, through the creation of the sense of inevitability the political Left is trying to engineer, the only politically viable path is to legislate it.

Last week, and less than a day after the US Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalise gay marriage in America, we looked at an academic piece that gleefully and almost spontaneously appeared in the reputable Politico magazine to trumpet that it was “time to legalise polygamy;” as I argued at the time, the instantaneous switch of left-wing liberals from fighting in favour of gay marriage to fighting in favour of polygamy (or so-called “polyamorous” marriage) was too brazen and apparently considered to be anything other than the next step in a push to completely undermine the traditional values liberal democratic societies are built upon with a view to destroying them altogether.

At the time, I was pilloried (offline as much as in this column) for jumping to conclusions off the back of the first article that materialised but those excoriations completely missed the point: there were “thinkers” on the Left all ready to go with the next step in its political quest to completely destroy marriage as a traditional institution and with it, the primacy of the family unit as the building block of society; far from representing the isolated views of an “obscure” academic, the article by Fredrik deBoer was simply the first from a growing cacophony of illiberal and chillingly resolute voices agitating for their views to prevail at any cost.

Since Dr deBoer’s article was published, the sentiments expressed in it have permeated the ongoing debate over gay marriage and, as I suggested with a more favourable reference to hardline conservative Senator Cory Bernardi’s past utterances on the subject, the distasteful objective of polygamy being the next stop for the “progressive” train as it seeks to railroad western societies into a complete breakdown of orthodox values has virtually become a mainstream aspect of the Left’s narrative as a fait accompli.

In the meantime, troglodyte conservatives in Australia bicker over stripping preselections and workshopping ways of preventing a cross-party bill from ever being tabled in Parliament as the chief mechanisms to avoid joining a battle they either lack the robust debating firepower and/or the stomach to fight, or ostensibly seek to cover their unwillingness and/or inability to argue for what they believe with the fig leaf of denying the debate is happening at all.

Whether you like it or not, and whether you support it or not, the argument over gay marriage is not going to go away in Australia at any time soon.

Now, the Greens in Britain, led by an Australian expatriate (where, incidentally, the Conservative Party legalised same-sex marriage prior to the general election in May) have signalled that they are “open to legalising polygamy,” and if this isn’t enough to break the pointless tactics of the hard Right element inside the Liberal Party then I don’t know what is.

Simply, and as sure as night follows day, the “debate” over polygamy — probably bestiality too at some later juncture, or God alone knows what else — is going to take root in the mainstream political discourse in Australia as surely as it already is in the United States and in Britain.

Closing their eyes and wishing it out of existence will no more work to the troglodyte conservatives’ advantage at that point than it will now; the only way to prevail is to fight fire with fire, and join a battle of ideas — and to date, those among out parliamentary representatives who would uphold traditional concepts and definitions of marriage and family have proven spectacularly inept at doing so.

There is a rich arsenal of debating points from which to draw in staring down calls for gay marriage — or anything else lined up behind it — and it does not necessitate the descent into bigotry to draw upon it.

For example, the right of children — in the ordinary course of events — to both a mother AND a father are an aspect of the gay marriage debate that have been all but airbrushed from existence. Where, in any meaningful sense and with impact, are the voices of the conservatives in the Liberal Party on this?

Someone posted a link during the week in the comments section of my site to an article by a girl who grew up with “two mothers” and accepting of gay lifestyles, only to realise later that she had been denied a father figure in her life and that the effects of that denial were and are permanent: consequently, she has transformed from being a gay marriage advocate to a children’s rights activist. Where has the effort been made on the political Right in Australia to find and promote similar examples in this country?

It is now crystal clear that if the gay marriage crowd triumph in Australia that polygamy and, surely, bestiality, will soon follow from the illiberal opinion engineers of the political Left; such a prospect is no longer able to be dismissed as some ambit scare tactic because that precise scenario is now unfolding in the US and Britain. The gay marriage debate, hijacked and exploited by the global political Left, originated abroad before taking root here. It is not inappropriate to frame a campaign in these terms.

But above all, critics of opponents of gay marriage have lamented that this is not an issue “of conscience” but rather one on which those elected to do so should simply lead: and in my view, such sentiments are merely a recipe for the ALP and the Greens to line up on one side, and the Liberal Party, the National Party and Family First to line up on the other. All voting as blocs, with the outcome as good as predetermined, but with some or most MPs forced to vote against their personal inclinations no debate could be said to have taken place.

Keeping the private member’s bill off the parliamentary notice paper is, in equivalent terms, tantamount to shoving the collective head of the hard Liberal Right up its own backside. This issue is everywhere, and it must be considered and responded to — one way or the other.

I don’t support gay marriage, but I do want it dealt with in the appropriate fashion, and that means a vote by both houses of Parliament.

Unlike the previous occasion such a push was considered by Parliament, everyone should be permitted to vote according to conscience, be they Liberal, National, Labor, Green, or whatever.

If the politicians get it wrong, retribution at the ballot box will be swift and savage.

But if the Liberal Party wants to call itself “liberal” at all, then it should start behaving like it, and those who have taken it upon themselves to behave like the Stasi in their pursuit of MPs in favour of gay marriage should get a grip on themselves, wake up, and smell their coffee.

After all, the Liberal Party has been perfectly content to rip into the ALP over the prospect — advanced by leadership traitor Tanya Plibersek in her attempts to appease lunar-Left activism in her own electorate — of Labor MPs being forcibly committed to support of the measure even if they are personally opposed.

It is simply not good enough for some in the Liberal Party to seek to profit politically from such outrageously totalitarian behaviour in the ALP only to turn around and behave in an almost identical fashion themselves.

The Liberals (and the Nationals, to be clear) should engage in this issue, fight the debate publicly ideas, with the end vote being a matter for individual MPs to determine in accordance with their own beliefs, consultation with their constituents, or whatever other method they utilise to arrive at a position.

Yes, the outcome might be that gay marriage passes Parliament — and if it does, then the cards must pragmatically be accepted to have fallen where they did.

But if such a free vote sees the measure defeated a second time, it would strengthen the hand of those who do not wish it to be considered again.

As distasteful as this issue is to some — including, to be clear, myself — there is only one decent and principled way to deal with it.

And that does not include bludgeoning people into silence, stifling dissent, refusing to allow differences of opinion to be aired, or preventing debate from taking place.

It’s time for the Liberal Party to put its money where its mouth is, and let its MPs do what they were elected to do: represent their constituents unimpeded by the Gestapo-like strictures of centralised control, threatening careers, or simple old-fashioned bullying.

 

Gay Marriage: No, It Is NOT Time To Legalise Polygamy

LESS THAN A DAY after the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of gay marriage — legalising the measure in all 50 states, making the pressure to follow suit here harder to resist — voices of the liberal Left are already pointing to polygamy as the “next step forward” in their “progressive” crusade. The ruling by the Court is a travesty. For those who’ve opposed gay marriage and warned of what might follow, those forecasts have quickly proven right.

As fair-minded as I am about my conservatism, I find myself offering an unconditional apology to Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi this evening; the Senator — whom I pilloried when he warned that sanctioning gay marriage would inevitably lead to calls for polygamous unions to be legal, and further along the slippery slope marriages (and presumably sexual relations) between people and animals — was probably right.

Three years ago, when Bernardi caused uproar and brought shame on conservatives with his graphic warnings of polygamy and bestiality, I never thought I would see the day when I would say this: but the attack I made on him in this column is one I now unreservedly and fulsomely withdraw.

By now I’m sure readers are aware that overnight the Supreme Court of the United States delivered a majority decision by a 5-4 margin that legalises gay marriage in all 50 US states; and whilst the victors are entitled to be jubilant, declaring “love wins” and rattling on about “equal love” and marriage “equality” — when there is no such thing — the decision already looks to be the thin edge of the wedge, and promises to stir great division and conflict in American society.

An article from the New York Times, which details the decision and which I strongly recommend readers review, can be accessed here.

I’m sick of being told I am a bigot, or a homophobe, or ignorant, or a Neanderthal, when I am none of these things; as far as I am concerned, gay people can go off and do whatever they like with each other. As far as their place among the rest of us goes, that’s a given. I understand there are still people around who think gay people should be bashed, ostracised, prosecuted or worse. But I am not one of them and I am fed up with sanctimonious “do-gooders” taking it upon themselves to make such insidious spot diagnoses when they have absolutely no clue what they are talking about.

But my opposition to gay marriage (in spite of a wide liberal streak that says they should do as they please) isn’t about brutalising and vilifying gay people; rather, it stems from the need to preserve traditional social values: values that, sadly, seem to break down that little bit more each day, when they are the foundation and the bedrock of our society — and not some arbitrary product of it, as this decision is, and as it will be if developments in the United States come to be mirrored here.

I think the ruling of the Court is a travesty, made as it seems to have been with the cavalier disregard for its consequences that invariably accompanies judicial activism, and driven as it has been by the hardline activism of the illiberal political Left. It is one of those oxymorons that in recent years where social policy is concerned, those traditionally ascribed the label “liberal” have largely come to be nothing of the kind.

The regime this decision will spawn in the United States will seek to vilify and to crucify anything or anyone who fails to parrot unquestioning compliance with the new “order,” and before anyone scoffs, there are already signs of the same thing happening in Australia. Exhibit #101 in this regard is deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek, who has already shown her hand (and that of the wider Australian Left) through her push to enforce a compulsory vote in favour of gay marriage on Labor MPs if and when the matter comes before federal Parliament.

It defies belief that the use of force would stop there: and with the prospect of conservative campaigners in the USA now facing a barrage of legal and social attacks for their trouble, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a) this change could tear American society apart, and that b) that effect could well be replicated here if gay marriage is legalised in Australia.

I’m sorry, but exhortations of “goodwill” from those activists campaigning for this change amount to nothing — literally nothing — when viewed against the backdrop of the very clear signs that have already emerged in the States in the wake of their Honours’ decision.

I’m not going to labour the point on the decision, but less than a day after it was announced a prominent American academic has published an essay in the respectable Politico magazine, in which he argues “group marriage” is the “next horizon in social liberalism” in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

Just as readers should acquaint themselves with the coverage I’ve linked from the New York Times, they should read Fredrik deBoer’s article from Politico as well.

The point that I would make of his theoretical case is that from a logical perspective, it is very persuasive.

Yet this is a key problem with socialism in all its forms, and with the ideologies of the Left in general: you can make a case for them, and those cases may seem compelling. From a purely practical perspective, however, they are generally unworkable — the experience of the Soviet Union is obvious proof of it — and when it comes to engineering the complete breakdown of traditional social values that have endured and underpinned liberal democratic societies for centuries, it’s not unreasonable to assert that their implementation, if taken to its logical conclusion, risks the breakdown of the society as well as the values.

Polygamy is popular with welfare rorters; until the practice was clamped down upon in Britain, the UK had hundreds of polygamous families on its books claiming millions of pounds in welfare payments; here in Australia, there have been cases of the same thing occurring. To the best of my knowledge, the practice (in terms of welfare claims) remains legal, even if the “family” structure is not. But if the likes of Dr deBoer win the argument, this adoption of “family” structures with which to abuse public resources will skyrocket.

Polygamy is also popular with all the kinds of people the Left purport to hate: misogynists, sexists, tokenisers of women, those who are violent and/or abusive of women, and those who hide behind what deBoer euphemistically describes as a “hub and spoke” view of “family” relations.

As Dr deBoer himself gleefully acknowledges, the decision of the US Supreme Court has set American society on the slippery slope: and his embrace of the fact is alarming, considering where that slope may lead.

I don’t intend to tear his arguments apart at length any more than I intend to dwell on the “historic” decision of the Court; those who feel elated by its handiwork can celebrate, but they should be careful in contemplating what they think they have won.

Do I have a problem with gay people in relationships, or with extending to them the same rights at law that heterosexual people enjoy? Of course I don’t.

But as I have now said many times, calling it “marriage” is one step too far: and for a group in society that arguably ranks among its most intelligent, my suggestion they come up with their own institution rather than hijacking a “hetero” entity half of them want nothing to do with anyway is a sincere one.

Yet regrettably, having trashed marriage in its traditional sense, other injuries to decent and traditional social norms will quickly follow, and if one of the first to be inflicted is to bring polygamy into the mainstream as the Left has done with gay marriage, then it’s only a matter of time before outright social decay ensues.

The thing that makes us civilised as human beings is that we don’t behave like animals: our societies are ordered according to a set of values that give them structure, and operate within the rule of law to give them order.

To begin to kick the pillars out from beneath the edifice is to invite the entire thing to collapse; gay marriage might well be the harmless foible its proponents claim in attempting to steer conservatives toward supporting it, but it really is the thin edge of the wedge.

To me, it is no surprise the call for polygamy to be legalised has already rung out in the United States; the only mildly surprising thing about it is the indecent haste with which that call has been made but then again, there is never all that much about the social engineering efforts of the Left that could be characterised as “decent.”

Let those who are so inclined celebrate what has transpired in the United States; for the legalisation of gay marriage is a Pyrrhic victory indeed, and one which raises the curtain on the prospect of it ultimately delivering far more harm than good.

Suddenly, Cory Bernardi’s warning about sex and marriage with goats and horses and God knows what else looks a little less hysterical than it did 24 hours ago.

Even if that sounds — as it deserves to sound — thoroughly ridiculous.

 

Newspoll’s “I Don’t” On Gay Marriage As Voters Divorce Shorten

AFTER A WEEK in which Bill Shorten’s shenanigans on gay marriage have taken centre stage, first opinion polling suggests voters have seen right through the opposition “leader’s” cynical attempt to deflect attention from his crumbling position and a reasonably popular federal budget, and to arrogate to himself any “glory” deriving from a renewed focus on gay marriage. The backfiring move has damaged his — and his party’s — standing.

I am not in the slightest bit surprised that what was clearly intended as a knockout blow by the Shorten camp (or at least, as a leveller to insulate itself from leadership problems) has spectacularly rebounded on the Labor “leader,” with both his own standing and that of the ALP taking a hit in the latest Newspoll, published in The Australian today.

This morning’s post — for reasons regular readers are now well familiar with — is a brief one, on the run again as I am; but if I was standing in Shorten’s shoes today, I’d be more than a little concerned that the mutterers, whose voices have already been audible whenever Tanya Plibersek passes by, are still muttering within Labor Party circles.

First things first: readers can access the tabulated findings from Newspoll here, and whilst they show Labor retaining enough support after preferences to win an election — for now — it’s reached the point where such an outcome would be a damned close-run thing if these numbers were replicated at an election, and even these findings potentially mask further downside for the opposition and for Shorten himself.

But having talked during the week about the wisdom or otherwise of Bill Shorten’s decision to “pull the trigger” on gay marriage, as some sycophants in the press saw fit to describe it, it’s already becoming clear that rather than firing bullseyes, all Shorten has managed to do is to shoot himself in the foot.

This Newspoll finds that as preferred Prime Minister, the single-point lead re-established by Tony Abbott after trailing Shorten for months has quadrupled; it also finds that Shorten is now less popular than Tony Abbott is, fulfilling a prediction of mine that probably would have come to pass far sooner were it not for the indecent and politically idiotic budget gifted to Labor by Treasurer Joe Hockey a year ago.

Shorten’s approval rating in this survey (32%) now lags Abbott’s by six points; and whilst more respondents (53%, up 1%) voice disapproval of Abbott than Shorten (50%, up 4%), the net approval ratings tell the real story: Abbott’s at -15%, Shorten’s at -18%. Two months ago, these numbers were -32% and -11% respectively.

And whilst the ALP primary vote has remained constant in this survey at 37%, single-point increases in both the Coalition’s and Communist Party Greens’ numbers have seen the Abbott government narrow the two-party margin in this Newspoll to 52-48: and as has been suggested elsewhere in the press this morning, were it not for the Greens picking up a little extra support in this poll — perhaps in a “honeymoon” effect for their new leader, Richard di Natale — it’s arguable an actual 51-49 split toward Labor has been slightly cushioned.

My point is that confronted by a budget that — unlike last year’s shocker — appears to have been well received and faced with a Labor caucus that exudes every indication of wanting a new leader, Shorten has gambled heavily on wrapping himself over the past week in the colours of the gay marriage debate.

He has gambled, and it seems he has lost.

These results should fortify the government’s resolve to continue to work on the so-called Leyonhjelm solution, for whether you agree with the legalisation of gay marriage or not, the libertarian crossbench Senator represents a middle path for the major parties, and an honest broker: and any resolution that derives from the Senator’s efforts is likely to be less divisive, more inclusive and better accepted than a ridiculous partisan stunt pulled on by “Bull Shittin’.”

I think Shorten’s time would be better served developing and articulating responsible policies designed to attract the support of the majority of Australian voters in the middle of the electorate, rather than engaging in petty partisan antics that may be effective at disrupting and frustrating the Coalition’s legislative program, but which ultimately add nothing to either the ALP’s political stocks or to its case for a return to office.

Shorten and his irresponsible behaviour, happily enough, also seem to be just the ticket to ensure he never achieves his cherished ambition to become Prime Minister, and for that I should be egging him on.

But at the first measurement of the electoral mood in the wake of Shorten’s attempts to use gay marriage to save his “leadership,” Newspoll’s message is unequivocal that when it comes to questions of a marriage, Shorten has become a turn-off.

Simply, the voting public is showing signs it has had just about all it can stomach of Bill Shorten’s “leadership” and, if he doesn’t fix his act quickly, his own MPs — or 48 of the 80 of them at least — might soon concur, and sign the requisite petition in those requisite numbers to make a divorce all but final, bar the decree of a vote of the rank and file ALP membership.

It is any wonder Anthony Albanese put in such an impressive showing on the ABC’s left wing gabfest #QandA last night. Plibersek, for her part, has also spent her time getting herself ready for a leadership tilt.

For Bill Shorten, the elements of a messy relationship break-up are all but aligned, it seems.

It may be too late for him to save himself, and the latest and most concerted attempt to deflect attention from his poor standing has failed.

In my view, the only pertinent question about a leadership change at the ALP is “when.” This Newspoll probably makes the answer to that sooner, rather than later.