Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Come Out, Brendan

Sorry for the silence the last few days - I spent the long weekend down in Melbourneo. Crumbs they're a friendly, well-dressed, well-built sexy mob down there (with the obvious exception of Peter Costello). And their trains run on time, too. Makes me wonder why I keep choosing to live in Sydney and not just move down there?

Oh, that's right. Because we're the city of winners. And sinners. Heh.

Time restrictions limit me to reproduction of my SX column today. See you soon for something more substantial.

Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson must be clearing the way for his prime ministerial pitch, recently promoting himself as the proud face of and spokesperson for the Howard government’s most extreme xenophobic and outdated, regressive teaching agendas. But was he always so reprehensible?

Apparently not. Ten years ago, Nelson’s brother died from AIDS, and although he has not yet admitted he was gay, he did mention his brother’s death in the context of an anti-Mardi Gras speech he gave to parliament in 1998, so it’s perhaps not so presumptuous to join the dots.

While condemning the supposedly “hurtful” nature of the Mardi Gras parade and some of its participants, however, Nelson went to great lengths to express his support for queer people and same-sex couples, as he had done previously the year before. In a surprisingly sensitive and tolerant statement for a senior Howard government minister, Nelson said: “Homosexual people are our brothers and sisters, our aunts and uncles, our sons and daughters, and some are even parents, and they should be able to live in a society that is free of intolerance, persecution and hatred.” He identified specific areas where same-sex couples were discriminated against and claimed that, whilst he could never endorse Mardi Gras, he would “gladly support a dignified campaign to overcome the injustices endured by homosexual people”.

One must wonder, then, why Nelson was so quiet during last year, when the injustice of a same-sex marriage ban was enacted in a particularly undignified manner. One must also wonder why he is not currently criticising his government over its broken promise to provide superannuation reform for same-sex couples.

The answer, of course, is simple: Nelson must tread very carefully while preparing the path for his leadership bid. John Howard will not allow any queer-friendly MP to go far in his government, which is why Nelson, as well as Communications Minister Helen Coonan, have attempted to bury their past records of positive queer activism. Joe Hockey, the Minister for Human Services, has also previously voiced his support for queer law reform – and to his credit, recently identified David Clarke for the extremist, Bible-bashing thug he is – but otherwise he is deafeningly silent as well these days.

The great tragedy is the people these parliamentarians leave behind when selling out their politics to further their own careers. I imagine if Nelson’s brother were alive today, he would be devastated to see his brother playing such an active role in a government that swiftly and enthusiastically panders to homophobic and hateful lobby groups and further marginalises queer communities for the sake of a few votes.

I believe there’s still a good man itching to burst out of Brendan Nelson. I just hope he hasn’t been lost forever.


At 4/10/05 6:06 pm, Anonymous frieda said...

Brendon Nelson Who? A man of words and no action, other than follow the line he has been told to follow. He makes grandeur statements on how public education should be. He wants to change the culture of universities, but has'nt the courage to meet and speak to Uni students. I would'nt let this moron within 10 klm of my cat.

At 4/10/05 6:08 pm, Anonymous woulfe said...

I was under the impression that the government had enacted the superannuation reforms, thought there is still a problem for public servants. Is this what you are referring to when you talk about the superannuation broken promise, or have I got it wrong?

At 4/10/05 6:11 pm, Anonymous frieda said...

Sam. BTW. There are a lot of nasty right wing poufters out there, even in the Liberal party.

At 4/10/05 6:41 pm, Anonymous stephen said...

like the other famous Nelson who placed a telescope against his blind eye, perhaps Minister Brendan has a blind eye too.
You, QP, are so optimistic about the Liberals, I cannot be so. Brendan Nelson is not like his namesake a man of enormous character, he is an opportunist of the worst sort. He is not alone in the Liberal Party! Maybe that's politics....but its not integrity.

At 4/10/05 7:48 pm, Blogger Tim said...

Hi Sam, great blog. Thanks for the link, I've reciprocated over at my place. Glad to hear you had a good time in Melbourne.

At 4/10/05 8:08 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam, how could you. In Melbourne and I didn't know although there was that frisson of sexual excitation hovering all weekend. JT

At 4/10/05 8:52 pm, Blogger mikey said...

I'm not surprised Nelson was one of the MPs who joined in the anti-Mardi Gras voice during the post-Hewson years of the federal Liberal Party.

At 5/10/05 9:42 am, Blogger Sam said...

There sure are Frieda. Christopher Pearson immediately springs to mind.

Woulfe: the public servants were who I had in mind. I also understood that whilst a Bill had been drafted including interdependents for super, the Bill had not yet become law. I could be wrong though.

I'm actually very cynical about the Libs Stephen, as I am with the ALP. I just try wherever I can to give credit to MPs on both sides when they say something remotely supportive in parliament, even if it was 7 years ago and they don't say or even believe such things now.

Cheers Tim.

JT: Sadly, the height of my sexual excitation in Melbourne was seeing a gorgeous Saba top on sale. And even then I still couldn't justify paying the price. So I guess you'd call it "anti-climactic". *sigh*

Mikey: it's certainly a sad time in politics when you find yourself on occasion thinking: "Come back Dr Hewson, all is forgiven!!"

At 5/10/05 5:39 pm, Blogger mikey said...

Mikey: it's certainly a sad time in politics when you find yourself on occasion thinking: "Come back Dr Hewson, all is forgiven!!"

On occasion? I think this all the time! *slinks away*

At 6/10/05 7:46 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The really sad thing Sam is that there are some really good federal Liberal MP's who have a progressive stance on gay issues. Howard has so marginalised them that they dare not speak up! I sincerely think that once he is gone things will change, not drastically ( gay marriage) but improvements in relationships recognition such as de facto laws etc.

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