The School of Athens

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

Friday 8 September 2017

Malcolm Turnbull is not a leader's derrière

Fellow citizens,

Following yesterday's decision by the High Court, we now have to endure an expensive, unnecessary and humiliating postal survey.

Expensive: $122 million that could've easily been better used in countless other ways.

Unnecessary: This is a matter for Parliament. The Marriage Act 1961 was amended in 2004 by the Parliament (without letting the people "have their say") and could just as easily be amended again.

Schedule 1—Amendment of the Marriage Act 1961
1  Subsection 5(1)
marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

2  At the end of section 88B
             (4)  To avoid doubt, in this Part (including section 88E) marriage has the meaning given by subsection 5(1).

3  After section 88E
88EA  Certain unions are not marriages
                   A union solemnised in a foreign country between:
                     (a)  a man and another man; or
                     (b)  a woman and another woman;
must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

Humiliating: As one section of our community - LGBTIQ people - are now to have the entire Australian population "judge" whether the love and commitment of LGBTIQ couples is to be of equal worth, under the law, to that of heterosexual couples.

Make no mistake, our 'strong leader', Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, is responsible for this farce. 

Having tried and failed (thanks to a sensible Senate) to implement the ridiculous plebiscite policy of the reactionary Tony Abbott, he had a perfect opportunity to stand up to the recalcitrant right wing thugs in his party and give his colleagues a 'free vote' in the Parliament.

Instead, he squibbed it.

For the benefit of our current Prime Minister this is what a strong leader actually looks like:

Paul Keating delivering the Redfern Speech in December 1992.

Remember this speech was given only a few months before the 1993 election was to be held. An election at which the ALP was widely expected to get hammered. There were no votes in it. On the contrary, in all likelihood, it would have cost the ALP many votes.

This is an extract:

"We non-Aboriginal Australians should perhaps remind ourselves that Australia once reached out for us. Didn't Australia provide opportunity and care for the dispossessed Irish? The poor of Britain? The refugees from war and famine and persecution in the countries of Europe and Asia? 

Isn't it reasonable to say that if we can build a prosperous and remarkably harmonious multicultural society in Australia, surely we can find just solutions to the problems which beset the first Australians - the people to whom the most injustice has been done. 

And, as I say, the starting point might be to recognise that the problem starts with us non-Aboriginal Australians. 

It begins, I think, with that act of recognition. 

Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. 

We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life.

We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders.

We took the children from their mothers.

We practised discrimination and exclusion. 

It was our ignorance and our prejudice. 

And our failure to imagine these things being done to us. 

With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds. 

We failed to ask - how would I feel if this were done to me? 

As a consequence, we failed to see that what we were doing degraded all of us."

You can view the speech on YouTube here:

Then, after having won the 'unlosable' 1993 election, Paul Keating went about implementing a response to the 1992 Mabo decision of the High Court, culminating in the passing of the Native Title Act in 1993. 

He argued the case for a proper government response to the Mabo judgement, confronting and despatching ignorance and prejudice along the way, as this transcript from his encounter with a talkback caller illustrates:

Caller: Good morning.
John Laws: Okay, the Prime Minister is here.
Caller: Yes, good morning. Just a very broad question, Mr Keating, is: why does your government see the Aboriginal people as a much more equal people than the average white Australian?
Paul Keating: We don't. We see them as equal.
Caller: Well, you might say that, but all the indications are that you don't.
Paul Keating: But what's implied in your question is that you don't; you think that non-Aboriginal Australians, there ought to be discrimination in their favour against blacks.
Caller: Not... whatsoever. I... I don't say that at all. But my... myself and every person I talk to - and I'm not racist - but every person I talk to...
Paul Keating: But that's what they all say, don't they? They put these questions - they always say, "I'm not racist, but, you know, I don't believe that Aboriginal Australians ought to have a basis in equality with non-Aboriginal Australians. Well, of course, that's part of the problem.
Caller: Aren't they more equal than us at the moment, with the preferences they get?
Paul Keating: More equal? They were... I mean, it's not for me to be giving you a history lesson - they were largely dispossessed of the land they held.
Caller: There's a question over that. I think a lot of people will tell you that. You're telling us one thing...
Paul Keating: Well, if you're sitting on the title of any block of land in NSW, you can bet an Aboriginal person at some stage was dispossessed of it.
Caller: You know that for sure, do you?
Paul Keating: Of course we know it for sure!
Caller: Yeah, [inaudible].
Paul Keating: You're challenging the High Court decision, are you? You're saying the High Court got this all wrong.
Caller: No, I'm not saying that at all! I wouldn't know who was on the High Court.
Paul Keating: Well, why don't you sign off, if you don't know anything about it and you're not interested. Good bye!
Caller: Yeah, well, that's your ...
Paul Keating: No, I mean, you can't challenge these things and then say, "I don't know about them".
John Laws: Oh well, he's gone.

You can watch edited highlights of the full interview (including that extract) on YouTube here: 

That is how a strong leader behaves, Malcolm Turnbull.

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