One of the issues currently dominating the political discourse of Australia is whether or not the country should legalise same-sex marriage. The actual substance behind this discussion is not the question in most people’s minds, as poll after poll has shown a healthy majority of Australians in support of marriage equality. Indeed, in recent weeks the case has become even more overwhelming as, although opponents of equality often cite their sincerely held religious beliefs, a poll by Galaxy Research found that a majority of Christians in Australia supported equal marriage. Rather than policy substance, the debate has shifted to how equality is introduced. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that there will be a non-binding postal vote plebiscite on the issue and some have since argued that such a vote should be boycotted. I would strongly recommend not to do that.
Malcolm Turnbull has been dealt a political blow this week after the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) withdrew its support for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage. The NXT join the Greens and Labor, which all support marriage equality but oppose Turnbull’s desire for a plebiscite. Normally I would be criticising these political parties for getting in the way of a democratic vote on this issue but because of the structure of the Australian political system, the opposition parties are right to be unforgiving.
After days of counts and recounts, the results of the Australian general election are just about in. In the limited coverage I given to this election, although I believed that Bill Shorten’s brand of leftism was not radical enough, I argued that in the two horse race between soft-leftism and hard-right conservatism, my preference is obvious. Unfortunately the result was not as we on the Left would have wanted. Whilst there are a couple of results still yet to be decided, the Coalition have won the required 76 seats to form a majority government.
The conventional wisdom surrounding elections in liberal democracies is that elections are mostly decided by economic issues. Indeed when this is not the case and issues like immigration or foreign policy dominate an election cycle, this is largely reported as news. To be perfectly honest many of these other issues are related to how it will influence the economy. When talking about immigration, for example, unless it is obvious that the person talking is outwardly racist, concerns are based on how public services will cope and any potential job losses; in other words the concerns are couched in economics. However a new study has shown that young people in Australia are less concerned with the economy than their elders.
Despite countries across the world legalizing same-sex marriage, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is still passionately committed to being on the wrong side of history. In a joint meeting of the Coalition parties, MPs voted to deny a free vote on the issue of same-sex marriage in this parliamentary session, thus appearing to prevent Australia from having marriage equality for same-sex couples until August 2016 at the earliest.
With Abbott’s favourability consistently below 50%, reaching a low of 24% in February, and with around 68% of the Australian public supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage, Mr Abbott is sticking to his homophobic principles at the expense of electoral success. If rapid progress on this issue is to take place the Australian people need to throw the Coalition out of government and send Tony Abbott back to Warringah.