On Thursday 25 of February, I sat down for an hour for a ‘live blogging’ session with Will Hodgman, leader of the Tasmanian State Liberal party regarding the upcoming election in March.
To be honest, I was quite impressed with many of his answers. Of course, now comes the test to see if the Tasmanian Liberals get elected, and whether they can actually stand up to the list of promises that have been made in the campaign war.
One thing that I was decidedly unimpressed with, though, was Mr Hodgman’s comment regarding same-sex unions.
The question came from Tim, asking Mr Hodgman:
“Can you tell me what the Liberal policy on same-sex relationships is?”
“Thanks Tim. The Liberal party believes that marriage is a union reserved for a woman and a man. We have supported moves to provide greater protection and equity for people in same-sex relationships.”(1)
I am quite perturbed to hear that there is an official party policy on something that, quite frankly, I believe should be a conscience vote if and when it comes before Parliament.
Even more so, though, is the claim of providing “protection and equity for people in same-sex relationships” whilst still advocating such discrimination against them by refusing to recognise the equality and validity of commitment between a same-sex couple.
The same day as the above mentioned chat session with Mr Hodgman brought the news that the Australian Senate began the debate on introducing gay marriage to Australia.
Unfortunately again, we find that the issue appears to be tainted by party lines at a federal level also. World News Australia from SBS reports that “same-sex marriage is unlikely to go to a vote because both the government and the opposition remain united in the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”(2)
I continue to be astounded that this is even a topic of debate.
Especially given the situation of life that we live in now.
Let’s remember that we’re talking from a legal and political perspective for a moment. Religion is not to enter the argument.
Thursday was a busy day for the topic of marriage I guess, because that night I watched A Current Affair report on a website that is specifically aimed at providing married people the opportunity to have affairs. There are actually many of these types of online dating services available out there, for people who might want to spice up their life with an extramarital fling or two.
This is not illegal under the law. There is no current Australian legal or political problem with having an extramarital affair.
Let me just also point out that I don’t personally agree with extramarital affairs. My own belief is that the commitment made to your partner in the ceremony of marriage is one of absolute fidelity and loyalty. However, this does not change the fact that legally the sanctity of marriage really has no standing.
We live in a society and culture that yes, was formed by Christian beliefs. However we’re past that. The Church is a religious institution and no longer has a place in secular society. We live in a society where upholding the sanctity of marriage is not a legal requirement.
Australia has grown into a secular culture, and as such there is no place for religion of any sort to be dictating the rules of what is permissible.
I have heard the most ridiculous arguments against gay marriage, and all from people who claim to respect the rights of same-sex couples but don’t believe that they should have the same rights as heterosexual couples in respect to marriage.
As Julia Melland of the Australian Democrats said in a press release following Thursday’s Senate debate:
“Of course it is discriminating against same sex couples and homosexual people generally to continue to ban same sex marriage. Saying you oppose same sex marriage but aren’t prejudiced against same sex couples is like saying you think Aboriginals are a lesser people but you aren’t racist.”(3)
It’s time to move on from this and stop with the hypocrisy and discrimination. When it comes to a legal standing, same-sex couples should have every right to receive the exact same recognition as any other couple.
There is no legislating love, or the commitment of two people who love one another. So please, Australia, stop trying to do so.
We are just under two weeks in to the Tasmanian election campaign, and already it’s clear that politics has little to do with policy and everything to do with mud-slinging.
I do give credit to the Liberal party for at least giving some idea of what their policies are in their advertising. Whether the goals in the end are realistic or not, there does at least seem to be an effort being made to get their policies out there.
On the other hand, we have David Bartlett sitting down talking about leadership, and how good a leader he’s been and so on. Is this a new attempt at drawing that line in the sand, Mr Bartlett?
But on both sides of the couch there’s been the negativity. Liberal’s “memories” campaign reminds us (as if we needed reminding again?) of the negative headlines associated with the past few years of Labor Government, and Labor has been so busy pointing out that twelve years ago the state was in a bad position that they seem to have missed the details that twelve years ago there was all of one current Liberal politician sitting in the parliamentary chamber. Mr Rene Hidding.
Now I know that my comments in the past contain a Liberal slant and I’m not going to deny the fact that in general I have supported the Liberals over the Labor Party, however I’m not impressed with these tactics from either end of the spectrum.
I think I speak for a large amount of people who are interested in politics in saying that we’re getting tired of the negative politics.
We youth of today aren’t as stupid as many of the older generations seem to believe we are. Yes, we have different priorities in our life, especially at this younger point in it. Yes, we look at the world differently. Yes, we grew up with technology and therefore expect things faster.
That doesn’t make us stupid. In fact, remember, technology is what makes us more informed than any party before. We can look up the details of supposed negative information. We know how to use Google and find the actual context of a quote.
We’re optimistic but cynical. We’re friendly but cautious. We don’t just take what you say at face value, we wonder what’s behind it, we wonder about the context. We know there’s a second side to every story.
I’m very doubtful that negative campaigning is winning much support from the younger generation, and don’t forget who the future of this state and nation are.
I’ve just, as I was writing this, seen the EMRS poll for February 2010. Since the last poll in November 2009, support for Labor has fallen a further 3%; support for the Liberals has fallen 7% and support for the Greens has gone up by 5%.
I can’t help thinking that the way Nick McKim carries himself in Tasmanian politics is actually a part of this. One thing I have not seen in political advertising is much in the way of a smear campaign from the Greens (of course, if I’m wrong feel free to post a link below).
If the politicians of Australia really want to earn the trust, confidence and vote of the younger generation, then they’re going to need to start looking at things a little differently.