The School of Athens

The School of Athens
The School of Athens by Raphael (click on picture to view short documentary from Columbia University)

Monday, 25 September 2017

An address to the nation by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull



Good evening my fellow citizens.

By now you should have received your ballot papers to participate in the same-sex marriage survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

I encourage you to participate in this survey to make sure your voice is heard.

I also encourage you to vote YES.

And the reason is very simple: Because it is fair.

In the nation of the 'fair go' it is not fair for one group of Australians not to enjoy the same rights as another group of Australians - and those rights are: to have the right, under law, to marry the person that they love.

I know in my case, I would have found it intolerable not to have been allowed by law to have married my wife, Lucy, 37 years ago.

I would have seen it as a grave injustice.

Yet that injustice exists now for all same-sex Australians who want to get married.

We now have the opportunity to redress this injustice.

The survey asks one simple question: Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?

A YES vote from the Australian public will see the Government facilitate the introduction of a private members bill to legalise same-sex marriage and we will pass that bill into law before the end of this year.


Now you would have heard a number of arguments from those who are opposing same-sex marriage.

Unfortunately, many of those arguments are without any foundation and, in any event, are irrelevant to the question you are being asked.

As your Prime Minister, I feel it is my duty to deal with these falsehoods being expressed so you know the facts.

First, you have been told that religious freedoms will be adversely affected - this is false. 24 nations have legalised same-sex marriage and there has been no change to religious freedoms in those countries, and it will be the same case here in Australia.

Second, you have been told that freedom of speech will be curbed - this is false. There will be no change to your ability to express your opinions freely and with passion within the laws as they currently exist.

Third, you have been told that the children of same-sex couples are worse off than children of heterosexual couples - this is false. The Australian Medical Association and the Australian Psychologists Society have stated that there is no evidence to support that proposition. The well being of children is determined by the love of their parents not their gender.

Fourth, you have been told that schools will be compelled to introduce a whole range of initiatives that will adversely affect your children's education - this is false. There will be no interference in how schools implement their education curriculums as a result of legalising same-sex marriage in Australia.


Once again, I state, the only question you are being asked to express an opinion on is: Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?

My fellow citizens, I encourage you to participate in the survey and I encourage you to vote YES and I do so because it is fair.

Good evening and thank you for your attention.


END OF ADDRESS.


It is my view that Malcolm Turnbull needs to make such an address right now.

He will earn the respect of the nation and it might just save his Prime Ministership.

Over to you, brother.




Friday, 22 September 2017

John Howard and Tony Abbott foul our democratic nest

Fellow citizens,

Many important pieces covering important issues have been written recently.

One of the most important, in my view, was "Coalition will not be mired in Abbott's white noise" by Niki Savva, September 21, 2017, The Australian.


"Observing politics lately has been like watching a wildlife documentary on the elders of the species eating their young. All the serving and former MPs, including a respected former prime minister, telling people the government can’t be trusted to deliver — in this case legislation that both enables same-sex couples to marry and those who oppose them to freely practise their religious beliefs — helps nobody and damages everyone.
It is no wonder voters lose faith in governments to do their job and turn to those who market themselves as outsiders — the Hansons, the Trumps, the PUPs.

Tony Abbott, expert in these matters, started it, John Howard provided the big bang and, in case anyone missed the point, Matt Canavan (relishing a little too much his freedom from cabinet solidarity) said it explicitly at the weekend: trust me when I say you can’t trust me because I am a politician. It is cynical, opportunistic and destructive of the body politic."
For Howard and Abbott to devalue the profession that has given them so much in life - especially the privilege of holding the highest office in Australia - is a disgrace.

They should be condemned for it. 



And for what?

To win an argument over marriage equality.

Marriage equality will happen. This year, next year, the year after, but it will happen. That is certain.

The repair to the damage of the standing of politicians and effectively the working of our democracy is not certain.

Surely they must understand this.

Abbott, of course, has form on this.

Amanda Vanstone wrote of it "For the record, I'll be voting 'Yes'" August 13, 2017, The Sydney Morning Herald.


"It's just an opinion but it is my view that Abbott has done more than any other politician to trash the standing of politics and politicians. He's had a really good education and been given every opportunity by his party. We expected more. We got less.

Remember, this is the guy who, as a politician, ran the argument "Don't trust the politicians" in the republic referendum debate. People on all sides were amazed at such a blatant undermining of the institution of parliament. When you undermine parliament, you undermine democracy. What kind of mind enters parliament and then trashes it for the sake of one debate?"

Howard mentioned in his joint conversation with Bob Hawke recently, hosted by Annabel Crabb, that he would like to see reform of Section 128 of The Australian Constitution. 



That's the section that deals with constitutional amendments:
"The Commonwealth Parliament initiates constitutional amendments. Section 128 of the Australian Constitution requires that a proposal to amend the Constitution must first take the form of a Bill submitted to the Commonwealth Parliament. Between two and six months after it leaves the Parliament, the proposal 'shall be submitted' in a referendum to the voters in the various States and Territories.

For an amendment to be ratified, the so-called 'double majority' is required. There must be a majority of voters saying YES in a majority of the States (i.e. at least four of the six), but there must also be a nation-wide affirmative vote. Territory votes are included in the national total, but not in any State figure (for the wording of s. 128 see Appendix)." [The Politics of Constitutional Amendments APH Library].
Howard is correct. The Constitution does need reform, as I have written before

However, what chance do you think there is that the Australian people will give any consent to reducing the power they hold over changing the Constitution (and quite likely ceding some of that power to politicians) when two former prime ministers - conservative prime ministers - tell them that you can't trust politicians?

At least Howard's ambitions in asking for trust are lofty, as they extend to the ideal of changing The Australian Constitution.


 
Abbott's ambitions, for the moment, merely extend to asking Australians to believe every word of his account of the alleged 'Head butt in Hobart'.





Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Five excellent pieces on equal marriage

Fellow citizens,

There have been some excellent pieces published recently about equal marriage or alternatively, to keep those who are politically correct satisfied, same sex marriage.



If you haven't had a chance to be across these pieces, I have collected a few here for you to read.

Yes, they are all in favour of supporting equal marriage.

Try as I might, I have yet to find a lucid argument against equal marriage.

All I hear - all I've ever heard from those opposing equal marriage - is that marriage is between a man and a woman.

That's not an argument, that's an opinion. And a weak one at that. But at least it's honest.

All the rest about religious freedoms, free speech, political correctness, the effect on the raising of children and the corruption of education are completely dishonest or alternatively, to keep those who are politically correct satisfied, a load of old codswallop.




In any event, they are not relevant to the question being asked - with all due respect (or undue respect, as the case may be). 

Now to the pieces:

"The ambition my brother abandoned because he was gay - why a 'yes' vote matters" 
by David Kirby (brother of Michael Kirby) 
What rational objection could there be to such a marriage? What business is it of others? How would it in any way jeopardise the union that may exist between others?

The suggestion by Tony Abbott that such marriages amount to "such huge change" that it "would shake society's foundations" is absurd. The same change has been adopted in 24 other countries, with a total population of 760 million people. The gruesome changes predicted have not materialised. Such fears are a debating trick, aimed at diverting attention from the simple proposition that to deny the facility of civil marriage to a minority in our community is unfair. It is an injustice that must be rectified. Gays have suffered enough. It is definitely past time to turn the page.

"Where's the biff? Free speech has won every round in the marriage equality debate" 
by David Marr
However they dress up their worries in the rhetoric of freedom, the great complaint of the naysayers is having to campaign at all. A faith that once faced lions is indignant about being challenged.
“We’re under assault,” cries Cory Bernardi but offers no proof of rough treatment. Sure, the contest has been a bit too willing at times but where’s the biff? Where are the martyrs? Who has actually been silenced?

Free speech has won every round that matters in this contest.

"'Yes' vote won't affect religious freedom - even the freedom to discriminate" 
by Jane Caro
Not only can anyone remain opposed to same-sex marriage regardless of the result of the non-binding (there's a clue in that, guys) postal survey, they can continue to speak against it and can certainly think whatever mutinous thoughts they like, and will still be able to even if the Marriage Act is changed. Indeed, if they belong to, run, are employed by or represent a religious organisation, they will continue to be able to discriminate willy-nilly.

"F*** you, I'm done with being respectful" by Laurence Barber (language warning)
For pretty much our entire lives, we’re forced to think about the version of ourselves we put across in public.

As LGBTQIA people, we’re burdened by a supposed need to modulate our behaviour, our speech, our looks. Don’t dress too queer. Stay in the closet at work. Better not hold hands on this street, just in case.

We’re not the only ones who have to do this. Women, people of colour, people with disabilities, and more – many of whom are also queer – suffer the same societal pressures.
Unfortunately, this is the reality we must contend with: one in which we battle to be seen as human so we can express ourselves and live authentically.

The marriage equality debate has delivered a concentrated assault on our collective personhood, but in more insidious forms than ever before.

"Gay people are anything but spineless, Mr Canavan" by Ernesto Montoto
Dear Matthew "grow a spine" Canavan,
I'd like to share my story with you and hope that maybe you'll have some level of empathy to understand the difficulties some of us face in life.

I am a 42-year-old man, who is in a loving 19-year relationship. I'd like to start my life story with you from when I was a young child. I was born in 1975. Only two years prior (1973) homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Homosexuality may have been depathologised in 1973, but the majority of society continued to treat homosexuals as perverse and sick individuals.

 Amor omnia vincit, veritas omnia vincit. 

 

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Pain, hurt, anger and equal marriage

Fellow citizens,

There is a great deal of pain and hurt being so unnecessarily revisited and reawakened within the LGBTIQ community as a result of this postal survey.

In many cases the trauma of a lifetime long experience of discrimination and vilification that many would've hoped was 'well behind them' is being brought back so quickly and so cruelly.



Make no mistake, two men need to be condemned for this: Tony Abbott for proposing the original ridiculous plebiscite concept and Malcolm Turnbull for continuing with the dopey concept culminating in the farce that is the postal survey.

This should always have been a vote in Parliament.

The LGBTIQ community warned of the problems the 'vote' would bring, but their warnings were ignored.

If you think I am overstating the hurt being revisited have a look at these comments on the hashtag on Twitter #Theygettovote where people are telling of their shocking experiences.

I've listed a few examples below:

my extended family found out i liked girls and called me a genetic deformity and kicked me out of the house #TheyGetToVote

"As soon as you're 18, I'm kicking you the f*** out, Poofta." - My Father. #TheyGetToVote

A 20 yo man found bloody & beaten & unconscious outside my apartment building after being beaten to a pulp by homophobes & #TheyGetToVote

I recall a random stranger on a tram proudly telling me "I put one of you in hospital last week." #theygettovote

First & only time I held another boys hand in public I got bashed by a group of guys only the  security guard stopped them) #TheyGetToVote

#Theygettovote i had rocks thrown at me, knocked down beaten and pissed on. Had a dead rat put in my school bag

Having drinks poured on me in disgust the first time I made out with a boy in a club #TheyGetToVote

I could leave hundreds of tweets on #TheyGetToVote, but it's too painful to relive the past homophobic attacks. No homophobia huh Lyle??

last week i heard a gaggle of middle-aged women lecturing a lesbian couple on 'why they should be embarrassed in public' #TheyGetToVote

Coming out of a gay bar, some guy came past me on his bike, spat at me and yelled 'DYKE'. #TheyGetToVote

I held a boys hand at school and was pelted with rocks then they threw me in the urinal. Teacher told me to, "be more aware." #TheyGetToVote

Head shoved into toilet wall, called a faggot and stalked by threatening school bullies who wanted to beat my brains in. #TheyGetToVote

Mardi Gras morning, I see car stop on oxford street-4 men jump out. Push a gay to the ground, break his teeth. They drive off #TheyGetToVote

#TheyGetToVote All those who hid the details of Dr George Duncan's drowning in the River Torrens for so many years

My classmate who wrote "Faggots deserve death" after I was outed in High School #TheyGetToVote

My ex was afraid to hold hands in our neighbourhood because he'd previously been assaulted for being gay. #TheyGetToVote

At 14 I came out to close friends, but the first guy I ever came out to rounded up his mates to bash me on the street #TheyGetToVote


Stories that are real and heartbreaking. This tweet sums up the feeling:

Today 'no' voters are saying the #TheyGetToVote stories are invented. Show any gay person the feed, watch the clouds form in their eyes.

And, yes, many in the LGBTIQ community are angry. Very angry about it all.

Can you blame them?

They are so deeply hurt, not only by what has happened to them their whole lives just for being who they are, but because their government and their leaders have let them down so terribly badly.

The government is so callous, so lacking in empathy, so lacking in compassion, that it deems it appropriate for the entire Australian adult population to "have their say" on whether an already marginalised section of our community should have equal rights under the law.

Turnbull and Abbott read those tweets and hang your heads in shame. 




"Only those who have known discrimination truly know its evil." Noel Pearson.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Mr Turnbull! Tear down this wall!

Fellow citizens,

One of the biggest stupidities I have seen in recent years is the erecting of a fortress around our Federal Parliament. Yes, it is OUR Federal Parliament.

Have a look at these photos of this bloody stupid thing.







In November 2015, Prime Minister Turnbull said in Parliament:

"The terrorists want us to bend to their will, to be frightened, to change the way we go about our lives, to abandon our values."

"If we do that, they win and they will not win, we will not let them win."

So much for not letting the terrorists win.

Why just stop at a wall? Why not rebuild all of Parliament House underground like Winston Churchill's War Cabinet bunker?



 There was a time when we criticised nations that used walls to protect themselves.



"As a free man, I take pride in the words: Ich bin ein Canberran!"


"Mr Turnbull! Tear down this wall!"

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

On equal marriage, sisters are doin' it for themselves...and everyone else

Fellow citizens,

Of all the research data that has been published regarding same sex marriage there are two pieces that I believe matter the most, and it concerns women.



First: Essential Media has found over July and August that about two-thirds of women "support changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry" as opposed to only about one half of men.

Second: Ipsos found in research published today that about 7 in 10 women will "definitely return their survey form" as opposed to about only 6 in 10 men.

These figures are crucial.

If women do participate in the proportion that the Ipsos poll reported, and there is no reason to doubt that they will, then the same sex marriage postal survey will find in favour of "changing the law to allow same sex couples to marry".

That is clear.



The question now is why such a clear gender discrepancy?

These are my speculations (and they are just speculations and generalisations based on anecdotal evidence).



Women are less threatened by gays, female or male, than many men and so much less likely to be homophobic.

Women who are mothers will tend to accept their children as they are, straight or gay. Whereas many men might be more inclined to see their children as a reflection of themselves, and so a gay male child might be a threat to their feeling of masculinity.

Women are far more aware of discrimination than men and so understanding injustice would be much more familiar to them.

These reasons, I believe, then explain the higher motivation among women to participate in the postal survey as they will be more committed to do something about the current situation.

And they will participate, as women are much less likely to 'forget' to fill out and return their survey forms, whereas for many men I am not so confident.

(Please Note: This illustration below is NOT the official ballot from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but it is quite lovely). 



Nothing, of course, is certain.

However, these research findings suggest that there is a very good probability that the same sex marriage survey will be carried in favour of changing the law.




Monday, 11 September 2017

How can anyone take John Howard seriously? He is lying, yet again

Fellow citizens,

How can anyone take the 25th Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, seriously?

Seriously?

He is a liar. And a chronic one at that.

As Press Gallery legend Alan Ramsey so neatly put it in 2004, "Howard was a serial liar when it suited his political interests."

Well, Howard is lying again. This time on same sex marriage. 



Yes, I could've written Howard is: disingenuous, duplicitous, deceptive, misleading or, if I wanted to be really charitable, misinformed.

But none of these euphemisms are appropriate considering the gravity of his most recent lie and the untold hurt and damage it might well inflict on the children of not only LGBTIQ couples, but also of all children in the nearly one million single parent Australian households [2016 Australian Census] and the millions of adults who were raised by a single parent.

What did he say?

"On the substance of the matter, I am a No voter and the principal argument for that relates to children and there is CLEAR EVIDENCE (my emphasis) that you have better outcomes overall for children who have a biological mother and father. I recognise that there are homosexual couples who are caring and conscientious parents who do a good job and there are plenty of neglectful heterosexual parents. But the CLEAR EVIDENCE is that you have outcomes that are superior for children in the longer term if they have a mother and a father." [The Australian, September 9, 2017]

First, the postal survey concerns itself with one question only: "Should the law be changed to allow same sex couples to marry - yes or no" and so any discussion by Howard about "outcomes" for children, any children, is irrelevant and designed to confuse the public and complicate what should be a very simple response to a very simple question.

Second, Howard twice claims there is CLEAR EVIDENCE that you have "better outcomes" overall for children, yet cites none.

Why? Because it is an outright lie. There is NO CLEAR EVIDENCE.

There is NO EVIDENCE at all, clear or otherwise.

There is only his opinion based on his prejudice and ignorance.

This is consistent for Howard who is an "agnostic" on climate science EVIDENCE, preferring to rely on his "instinct" which he believes outweighs the five detailed reports
from the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) citing thousands of climate scientists over 25 years.


In an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald, August 14, 2017, titled "No evidence: Medical groups rubbish 'red herring' claims about same sex parents" it said:

"The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Australian Psychological Society (APS) told Fairfax Media there was NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE (my emphasis) that children of gay and lesbian parents had poorer outcomes than those with heterosexual parents."

It quoted AMA President Dr Michael Gannon who said, "The issue before the Australian people, before the Australian Parliament, is not about same-sex parenting. That's not even the discussion that is being debated" and that Dr Gannon stood by the AMA's statement that there was "NO PUTATIVE, PEER REVIEWED EVIDENCE (my emphasis) to suggest that children raised in same-sex parented families suffer poorer health or psychosocial outcomes as a direct result of the sexual orientation of their parents or carers." 

The article went on to state, "The Australian Psychological Society, the peak body for psychologists, conducted a literature review in 2007 and concluded that outcomes for children of homosexual parents were 'on par' with those in heterosexual families."

The article quoted Dr Damien Riggs, Associate Professor of Social Science at Flinders University and APS fellow who said, "There are no noticeable differences between children of heterosexual parents and children of homosexual parents, other than discrimination. What we need to do is combat discrimination so then there are no differences at all."  

The article also cited research of a 2010 meta analysis of 33 studies of two-parent families published in the US Journal of Marriage and Family, which supported Dr Riggs' conclusion.



Further, an article published in The Huffington Post on August 7, 2014, titled "Children Of Gay Parents Are Happier and Healthier Than Their Peers, New Study Finds" will make Howard shudder, as it wrote:

"Children raised by same-sex couples have better health and well-being in comparison to their peers, according to a groundbreaking new study which is being billed as the largest of its kind.

Conducted by Australia's University of Melbourne, the new research aimed to 'describe the physical, mental and social well-being' of children with gay and lesbian parents, and "the impact that stigma has on them." On average, children raised by same-sex couples scored six percent higher than the general population when it came to general health and family cohesion.
Meanwhile, in other categories -- such as behavior, mental health and self-esteem -- those children reportedly scored the same as those raised by heterosexual parents."

'It appears that same-sex parent families get along well and this has a positive impact on health,' Dr. Simon Crouch from the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, Centre for Health Equity at the University of Melbourne, told CNBC of the results.

Crouch believes that an emphasis on skills, as opposed to traditional gender roles, accounted for the survey's results.

'So what this means is that people take on roles that are suited to their skill sets rather than falling into those gender stereotypes,' he is quoted as saying. 'What this leads to is a more harmonious family unit and therefore feeding on to better health and wellbeing.'
You can read more about the new research here.

The study comprised input from 500 children and 315 parents who are in same-sex relationships, and seemed mostly in line with previous research. Earlier this year, a Williams Institute report found that children of lesbians reported having higher self-esteem and lower conduct problems than those of heterosexual couples.

A 2012 study, 'Adolescents with Lesbian Mothers Describe Their Own Lives,' found that teens with two moms maintained solid high school GPAs while having strong family bonds with their mothers, according to CBS Las Vegas."


So there we have it, Howard's CLEAR EVIDENCE of "better outcomes" does not exist.

Just like Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction did not exist and on whose pretext Howard took Australia to war in 2003 and from which the world still suffers the consequences.



Howard's CLEAR EVIDENCE is nothing more than his opinion based on his prejudice and ignorance.

However, Howard has form, and lots of it.

Remember his citing of FIELD EVIDENCE in the 2004 Federal Election that "interest rates will always be lower under a Coalition Government than a Labor Government" despite no reputable economist supporting his baseless claim?




The Prime Minister was asked about a survey of 14 independent economists who reject his view.

REPORTER: What do you know about interest rates that those economists don't?

JOHN HOWARD: Well I know that interest rates under Labor were massively higher than what they are now, and I know that if Labor's record in the past is repeated, which I believe it will in the future, they'll run budget deficits. That will put upward pressure on interest rates. And in the end what matters is the strength of an argument, not the number of people who may have a particular point of view. [ABC PM Program October 5, 2004]
In November 2007, during the 2007 Federal Election campaign, those interest rates 'chickens came home to roost':


"The Reserve Bank has made history, weighing into the politically-charged federal election campaign by raising interest rates to their highest in a decade."

"Mr Howard today said he was 'sorry' for today's interest rate rise after the The Reserve Bank of Australia raised the official cash rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 6.75 per cent. Mortgage rates are expected to follow within days." [Sydney Morning Herald, November 7, 2007]

Howard subsequently lost the 2007 election and, in doing so, suffered the humiliation of losing his seat. The ultimate rejection for a prime minister. A point that Howard sycophants and genuflectors conveniently forget.


Oh yes, Howard has form, and lots of it.

Returning to Alan Ramsey's article "Let's have the honest truth, once and for all" published in the Sydney Morning Herald, August 18, 2004 :

"Howard was a serial liar when it suited his political interests."

"Howard lied about the GST before the 1996 campaign. He lied about these lies during the 1998 campaign. He lied about the reasons he took Australia into the Iraq travesty, now such a part of this election. Now we are told by someone at the centre of events that he lied about the children overboard affair."


"The central truth is, however grave the charge, that John Howard's prime ministership has been a lie from the outset." (bolding is my emphasis)  



Howard is lying, yet again. 

How can anyone take anything he says seriously?

Seriously?




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