This week has been unfortunately dominated by the issue of marriage equality. I say unfortunately because all good sense and decency has gone out the window. This is an issue should have been resolved by a free conscience vote of the Parliament and not a $122 million non-binding opinion poll.
Most Australians just want to get on with things and focus on the many other issues facing the nation.
But that being said now that we are faced with this postal poll we must all do our very best to support the yes case and support respect.
I don’t often quote material sent to me in emails by constituents but on this occasion I must quote the words of a constituent who wrote to me saying on this issue; “I am not all comfortable with gay marriage but I won’t be voting against it as I don’t think I have a right to say how others should live but what is really important is that both sides treat each other with respect.”
I can do no better than too than quote Senator Penny Wong:
“We didn’t want to be here. We shouldn’t be here. But now we are here, we have to fight”.
There’s no denying the Turnbull Government’s opinion poll is a stacked deck. It is designed to mark every card against those seeking marriage equality. That’s why supporters of marriage equality need to work twice as hard to get out the vote, and ensure that Malcolm Turnbull’s $122 million “survey” accurately reflects the overwhelming will of the Australian people.
Calls for a boycott are understandable. LGBTI Australians rightly feel insulted that we have to ask permission to be equal.
We didn’t want to be here. We shouldn’t be here. But now we are here, we have to fight.
Yes, there are serious questions about the legitimacy of the political fix chosen by Malcolm Turnbull to overcome the Senate’s repeated rejection of his plebiscite. We know from the 1997 postal ballot on the republic that turnout is likely to be very low, especially among young people. It will disenfranchise people in remote areas, especially indigenous Australians, and those travelling overseas. And there are very serious questions about the ability of the ABS to run such a ballot.
It’s no wonder pollsters have ridiculed postal votes as a “complete waste of money”.
And we know, because we are seeing it already, that Malcolm Turnbull’s opinion poll will unleash a new wave of hatred and bigotry against LGBTI Australians, and especially against our kids.
But Malcom Turnbull’s pathetic capitulation to the hard right of his party means that the campaign has been launched, and unless halted by the High Court, the ballots will be going out to millions of Australians in the next few weeks.
Labor supports marriage equality and we will campaign for the rights of all Australians to marry the person they love. Unlike Malcolm we will fight for equality.
Right now a boycott can only play into the hands of those who would deny us our rights.
So we must do everything we can to get as many people as possible on to the electoral roll in the next fortnight, to register all those young people who have never voted, and re-enrol all those struck off by moving house.
And then we must ensure we get those ballots back in record numbers to shame this weak and leaderless government into finally doing the right thing.
And because we believe in equality, if, after all this, Malcom Turnbull still won’t act, Bill Shorten has made clear that Labor will legislate for marriage equality in our first hundred days.
Claire Moore is a Labor Senator for Queensland and Shadow Minister for International Development and The Pacific.
This post is an edited text from Claire’s weekly newsletter dated 11 August 2017. For more information about Claire and her work, visit www.clairemoore.net