Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Turnbull must go

The Lib 'think tank' front organisations are again trotting out their token sisters to bat the naughty PM around with their Prada handbags for putting same-sex law reform in the too-hard basket.

In Tim Wilson's defence, he has actually managed to be quite critical of Howard for the most part, maintaining his continued argument that true conservatism should by definition facilitate genuine equality. It's just his apparent surprise that Howard has made the decision he has that angers me.

Sorry to all the Howard-voting queers who thought nice Uncle John might invite them to the grown-ups table if they played nicely with the other kids and behaved themselves, but the rest of us always knew he was going to fall this way - we had 11 years of inaction and apathy to go on. There is a reason why Howard's 'critics have always ... equated his conservatism with regressivism.' But unlike what Wilson might like to believe, we have not been 'wrong' to do so.

Anyways, onto how this relates to Malcolm Turnbull. Upcoming SX column below.

Last week, John Howard confirmed what many of us have suspected all along: He was lying – surprise! – when he claimed not to be in favour of unfair discrimination against same-sex couples.

Forget about marriage rights – Howard doesn’t think we should even receive de facto or interdependency rights. He’s told his party room the issue of equality for gay and lesbian couples is ‘complicated’ (which is bullshit, it’s not) and ceded to the demands of the Australian Christian Lobby and other right-wing ‘Christian’ lobby groups with whom he wishes to stay in bed spooning.

The reason why Howard’s man in Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull, must go, is not because he feels the same way as his master – quite the opposite, Turnbull has been one of the Liberal Party’s strongest internal agitators for law reform and has an admirable history raising money for the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation.

But it's clear Turnbull has failed.

This election, queer voters have an unprecedented opportunity to flex some electoral muscle. If you live around the East Sydney/Kings Cross area, chances are you’re now in Turnbull’s seat where before you were in Tanya Plibersek’s – that is, you’ve been redistributed out of a safe Labor seat and into a marginal Liberal one. Turnbull knows the ‘queer vote’ he’s inherited counts in this election (not that we all vote the same, of course), and Howard has now effectively hung him out to dry once he hits the streets to confront his queer constituents.

It’s not easy advocating the removal of a GLBTI political ally, but Turnbull is in the unfortunate situation, for him at least, of holding a marginal seat where every individual vote will count. And in the depressing event that Howard is re-elected this year, even if Turnbull were also returned, it’s clear voters who care about ending discrimination and genuine equality will have to spend at least another three years banging our heads against a brick wall. Turnbull has had as long to get his government to act, and failed; what’s to say he’d be any more successful after another three years? Howard has had so long and such success decimating the more moderate element within his party; it’s not as though the damage he’s caused will be instantaneously undone once Peter Costello grabs the reigns.

No doubt, as a multi-millionaire Turnbull will be able to buy his way to electoral success. But with what’s going to be a very close election this year, every seat – and every vote – will count. The Liberal Party must be punished for its offensive misconduct against queer voters, and circumstances dictate that Turnbull must necessarily be a casualty.

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At 19/9/07 7:30 am, Blogger Bill said...

Howard must truly be condemned for this, and so, as you say, must his supporters, even the pro-queer ones like Turnbull.

But the real disappointment is how lukewarm Krudd is on this issue.

At 19/9/07 8:32 am, Blogger Ken_L said...

"But the real disappointment is how lukewarm Krudd is on this issue."

Disappointing but not surprising. Rudd's an old-fashioned protestant Christian with moral values to match. And don't expect his party room to exert much pressure for him to change. Many trade union officials despise gays nearly as much as Bill Heffernan does.

At 19/9/07 11:37 am, Blogger eMZed said...

It's a tough call. Another 3 years of Howard (or "TEH Team") is going to leave things stymied as they are now (or worse); the ALP is better on the financial/practical rights side of things, but still shies away from any true symbolic/moral rights recognition.

BUT in all likelihood there'll only be real reform when there's a reasonable level of bipartisan support for the various elements of reform. We're going to need people like Turnbull in the Libs (in opposition) to drag them back to a more moderate stance.

At 19/9/07 11:48 am, Blogger Sam said...

Perhaps. I just believe this particular Liberal administration is well beyond dragging back. With Howard, Abbott, Andrews, Heffernan etc gone, maybe - but while they're still around in senior positions wielding influence, the moderates (IMO) are neutered.

At 19/9/07 10:08 pm, Blogger eMZed said...

Oh, I agree completely; I just think that post-this administration his influence could be useful in a liberal opposition, should it be searching for a new direction.

At 23/9/07 3:35 am, Blogger cvm said...

I definitely think that in cases like this you essentially have to judge people by the company they keep - sure Turnball himself has tried to have a positive impact but he is voluntarily a member of the one party (ok Fundies First are bad too)that consistently puts the queer community last. Change from within a party is an admirable aim but he's been in the Libs for how long?

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