I have a soft spot in my heart for Australia, and I have spent a lot of time there over the years.
Usually I was visiting to check on my mining investments. I got into uranium on the ground floor after a particularly drunken weekend with the Roosevelts in early 1939. Once Eleanor had a couple of my special gimlets under her belt, you could get anything out of her (and I mean anything). It was a very lucrative couple of days.
I’ve also visited in a more professional capacity. After I had assisted in resettling Harold Holt into his new life as a Thai ladyboy, I got a bit of a reputation in the service for being able to speak Australian, and so I was sent there several times for fieldwork. For a few years in the 60s, it felt like we were overthrowing a new Prime Minister every year or so.
In between, I fell in love with Australia a little bit. What can I tell you? It’s a nation of burly footballers in short shorts whose idea of a big weekend is to not stop from the weekend before, and whose idea of moderation is to have a bit of a spew so more beer fits in. It makes decent wine and you can have good e and an ounce of dope delivered to your hotel room within an hour of your plane landing. It has hopping rats and tree bears and more things to make fur coats out of than you can poke a dead dingo at. What’s not to love?
Happily, there is a sanity still to their political discourse that has long been missing in these United States – if indeed it ever existed. It even extends (on occasion) to their legislatures – a right that hasn’t gone full nutcase and which sometimes recalls the old meanings of the words “conservative” and “liberal”, a centre that is actually in the centre, and a left that even gets to have a say in running the country every now and then.
At the moment, the Australians are having a go at the gay marriage debate, with mixed results. The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard wishes the whole thing would go away and is floundering pathetically as a result, while the best the religious right can come up with is the usual “won’t someone think of the children, next it will be donkeys marrying cows” guff:
The survey also shows that this issue is not just about rights for homosexual people but also about the responsibility of society to always act in the best interests of children. …
A substantial proportion of Australians are also concerned about the possibility of changes to the Marriage Act having unintended consequences.
However, the debate in the ruling Labor party is not whether legislation should be introduced – it seems a foregone conclusion that the Labor Party conference will support it – but whether any parliamentary vote should be a conscience vote for Labor members.
In practice, a conscience vote on this matter is not democratic. The majority opinion of the party is clear and the majority opinion of the public is clear. There is no compelling reason why this matter should be treated differently to any other on which Labor Party members routinely disagree. Same-sex marriage is not a life-or-death issue. A binding vote of conference, however, would provide all Labor parliamentarians with the protection of the democratic processes of our party. Making provision for same-sex marriage in Commonwealth legislation does not compel an individual to change their private views on the matter.
It is laughable to suggest that such legal recognition in any way detracts from the love that is shared between any heterosexual couple.
As the parliament is currently constituted, the bill has a chance only if all Labor members vote for it, which they would be bound to do (or face expulsion from the party) in a non-conscience vote. The forces of goodness have a battle on their hands, and I suspect that this time round they will be unsuccessful.
However, as ever at times like these, I take heart from the fact that the Christianists (as opposed to actual Christians) have already lost. Gay marriage will happen in Australia – it is merely a matter of time.
The Australian public seems to have made up their minds, as polls consistently show a majority of the population (and even a majority of Christians) in support.
The reason for that, I submit, is one that I have mentioned before, which summed up in that quite wonderful GetUp! video above – and that is the sheer, wonderful, gorgeous ordinariness of it all.
Gay marriage will win out in Australia simply because ordinary Australians love their gay children and their gay friends, because they work with someone nice who dresses up as Lady Gaga on the weekend or because their butcher or their best customer is a lesbian, because they watch other ordinary people living their ordinary lives and loving their ordinary loves and they know that it makes no sense – indeed, that it is deeply un-Australian – to stop them marrying the one they love.
Mind you, it would be nice if the Prime Minister grew a spine and did the right thing, but you can’t expect miracles.
Perhaps someone can convince the current Prime Minister to go for a swim. :-)
Gilliard is a strange bird. She’s a professed atheist who merrily drops into the Christianist vernacular on the subject of marriage equality. The Aussies I speak with on Twitter are more than a little annoyed by this.
These hard core Christianists worry me. They always seem to be thinking about sex with children or sex with animals. At least, that’s what they always talk about when gay people ask for marriage rights. Listen, WE didn’t bring it up…
All these white women coming forward at the same time and exposing Herman Cain as a philanderer doesn’t just happen. It has to be coordinated by DHS.
I can’t help but remember the first time I saw this concept done, albeit far more crassly.
Just watched the video, damn there is something in my eye, having problems typing here.
Tell me the part about having weed delivered to your hotel, again?
Might need to check expedia and job ops
Aus politics are taking on some of the bad bits from the current US, especially the out of power right wing. The right wing is taking cues of governance from the Tea Party playbook (hate, hate, hate) and just riling things up to rile them up. No compromise, no, no, no, no nothing.
And the left is just own goaling itself into oblivion. Gillard is very hard to like. She has no presence and is actually wince inducing when she speaks. Putting her and Obama on the stage together when he was here just showed the difference in class. But she has gotten some things done (carbon tax, mining tax). But the left here, like in the US but maybe not quite as animated, is in fighting and thus causing them to droping the polls.
And I hope gay marriage does make it. It does seem to have an easier path here than in the US.
Weird times in Aus politics.
A dear friend of mine is moving there next week to be with her partner. I hope it works out for her.
Aussie liquor prices have turned me from a bourbonoholic to a wino. Which is good, I guess. Clearskins are $5 a bottle – and often fantastic, at least to my crude taste.
I have to add that I’m writing from Hobart Airport – just sailed from Sydney to Tassie. First time sailing. Two of us. Wow. Ow.
And: We can at lest be thankful that most Aussies I talk to think Tony Abbott is a soulless dolt. Or basically an American Republican.
Do you think you could drop the affectation and the style and just try to write intelligible and coherent posts?
No one of importance
Gillard has been a disappointment from the start, signalled on her second day in the job when she declared, as an atheist, (alleged) feminist living ‘in sin’ that she didn’t support gay marriage because of her addiction to ‘traditional values’.
A lot of lefties like me were left feeling like we’d been kicked in the guts, discovering our great female hope turns out to be an unreconstructed homophobe (even forcing Penny Wong, our out gay minister to make mealymouthed statements supporting the government’s insupportable position – statements she’s now retracted). Gillard is so disgusted with the gays that she can’t even honour a charity donated dinner worth $30,000 – finding out it meant she’d have to sup with *those* people means she’s going to postpone it until Abbott is PM.
She’s a bloody hypocrite and a fine example of a crab in a crab barrel. Trouble is, she’s surrounded by wankers even more mediocre and unprogressive. The only reason a Labour supporter has to vote for her is that she’s not Tony “Dr No” Abbott.
I voted straight Green party last time, and I’ll be doing it again. Labour has lost its soul and the chief soul-eater is the red-haired liar at the top.
No one of importance
Not the ones who listen to Andrew Bolt and comment on the news sites, sadly.
If Abbott was an American, he’d been slammed for being too liberal. Which doesn’t mean he actually *is*, just that he occasionally feigns some slight interest in the poor. It’s not an act he can keep up for long, as he demonstrated earlier this year when he ‘helped’ with the flood clean up. Poor little shithead didn’t want to get his hands dirty, evn for the camera.
To be honest, that video is better than anything Baz Luhrmann ever did.
Hmmm. Looks like the last hurdle will actually be the right not to be ordinary. (And who gets to decide what’s ordinary, anyway?) Do I only get to be gay as long as I’m “square”?
Hmmm. Looks like the last hurdle will actually be the right not to be “ordinary”. (And who gets to decide what’s ordinary, anyway?) Do I only get to be gay as long as I’m “ordinary”?
I was in a dive bar in Bellevue, WA, not too long ago, and there was an Australian couple at the center of the bar, and a red-faced doughy bidnessman on the end who lured them into conversation. After some pleasant generalities, and crypto right-wing remarks from the bidnessman, he confessed his sincere admiration for John Howard(!) The Aussies nodded politely and quickly changed the subject. After the third mention of how great John Howard was, they politely paid up and got the hell out of Dodge.
pseudonymous in nc
Worth remembering that a large number of the immigrants who arrived during the ‘White Australia’ period were from extremely Catholic parts of Europe — Italy, Croatia — and while the demographics have shifted a fair bit, there remains a small-c social conservatism that non-Aussies only tend to notice when social conservatives like Howard win elections. So you have a lot of Labor constituencies made up of people, usually older, who still have a problem with ‘poofs’.
Sarah Proud and Tall
Be as un-square and fabulous as you wish, dear. I’m not suggesting for a moment that the gays need to behave themselves in order to be entitled to anything.
When the straight world accepts that the gay world just wants the same “ordinary” things as them – the right to fall in love and snuggle up on the couch with their honey (or honeys) and live their life as they see fit – it won’t matter if the person is a drag queen or a leather dyke or a circuit queen or an ordinary schmo from Sheboygan.
Deep down 99% of us want the same basic stuff – it’s just than some of us will be snorting amyl and wearing a harness when we get it.
Thanks sor this Sarah,we can be amazing ocassionaly.would love this to be one of themj. Juliar shuld stop worrying abou ‘capturing’ the right by recapturing us lefties that are leaving in droves.
Wondered about Harold. Did you know Gough ot Malcolm well?