Wednesday, November 21, 2007

10 reasons why I'm preferencing Labor at this election: The finale

2. Teh gay Guess you were wondering when I'd get to this one.

Over my nearly three years of blogging, and several more years' involvement in all things teh gay, critics from both sides have questioned my 'preoccupation' with same-sex couple rights and empowerment of the queer (insert gender ambiguous noun here) generally. A couple of Trots I know reckon I'm too caught up with relationship rights/recognition on account of my middle-class upbringing, and that far too many single queers have greater issues at hand - isolation, drug addition, physical and psychological abuse etc - than worrying about who they can or cannot nominate as their private sector super beneficiary. Folk on the right try less successfully to use a similar argument as apology for John Howard having done next to fuck-all for queers in his 11+ years of power.

Maybe there's an element of truth to these accusations. Maybe if I had been effectively kicked out of home when I came out, like my partner and several friends were/have been, I might have different priorities. Maybe I focus too much on teh gay because, apart from that particular minority trait, I'm cruising pretty comfortably in life as a white, middle-class male.

But all I really want is a government that recognises and acts on the hardships both queers and queer couples face every day. I genuinely believe the Howard government has failed, repeatedly, to do so. Such hardships are independent of class and wealth status, and should be redressed by a government in a secular nation that has long decriminalised homosexuality and claims not to support unjustified discrimination.

I'm not just angry at the Howard government for failing to properly reform legislation to recognise same-sex couples - I'm angry it contains men in senior positions like Eric Abetz, Bill Heffernan and Wilson Tuckey, whose words of hatred and homophobia help contribute to disproportionately high suicide rates among young same-sex attracted men, particularly in the bush. I'm angry it has spent years constructing queers as threatening to both 'The Family' and 'The Marriage' while actively encouraging genuine threats to family values, such as the Exclusive Brethren cult and Family First. I'm angry that the Treasurer and third-most senior figure in the government argues that gays and lesbians should be happy that we're not locked up for our 'crime' anymore and that it's unreasonable to expect anything greater. I'm angry that the Prime Minister would be 'disappointed' if his own child came out to him.

At a federal level, Labor have been disappointing on this issue. They are committed to action on HREOC's 'Same Sex: Same Entitlements' report but this was reactive rather than proactive. They caved too easily to the gay marriage wedge in 2004 and they're still too influenced by rabid homophobes from the catholic right union(s) like Joe de Bruyn or SA No 1 Senate candidate Don Farrell. Kevin Rudd has not spoken out often enough against the Howard government's many failures in this area for fear of frightening the horses and I really wish Penny Wong would lead by a more inspiring, empowering example.

However, Labor is the party that actually has a direct policy on same-sex couples and queer people in its platform. It is the party whose AG-to-be deigns to talk to queers at public functions, and not just the activists. It is the party that at a state level has reformed the laws to ensure much, if not total equality. It is the party that has acknowledged the problem of violence against queers, both by outsiders and within our domestic relationships, and offered strategies to resolve this problem. It is the party whose ear can perhaps be bended over time to the idea of civil unions - it will at least make a pretence of listening. It is the party that does not necessarily assume one's sexuality is an impairment to effective parenting.

The Howard government has failed on teh gay. Labor deserves a fighting chance.

1. Climate change I've fallen for the wicked-witch-green conspiracy. I do in fact believe we're at a precipice, where the choices and decisions we make now could have potentially catastrophic consequences for the next generation. Not in a thousand years, but in a hundred years. After a while, I just had to give up thinking that every single legitimate environmentalist, scientist and expert in the field were all part of a great global swindle, and started accepting that they might just be onto something after all.

John Howard has not yet reached this point, no matter what he might otherwise claim at his death-bed conversion. He and too many of his senior government members have always believed at heart that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy. He only 'changed his mind' this year because he finally tweaked - rather late, by his standards too - that this was a vote-changing issue to many, many people, including more than a few rusted-ons.

I do believe there is a Greenhouse mafia operating within the Liberal Party and it's only now being exposed. When even the Liberals' own are acknowledging the Howard government's appalling inaction on climate change, you know that somethere there is a significant hurdle in operation.

Howard believes the environment only operates within the confines of the economy. I question the point of a strong economy within the confines of a polluted, dying planet where more and more people are struggling to breathe clean air, drink water or not exhaust their habitat's resources. Seems pretty pointless having a strong economy if we're not around to enjoy it.

And what is the Howard government's (eventual) 'solution' to climate change? 'Clean coal' (the greatest oxymoron since 'friendly fire') and nuclear power. This in a nation that has an abundance of sun and wind, but oddly not much serious investment in wind and solar power. The fuck?

Climate change is bigger than simply ratifying Kyoto - but it's a good start, as Malcolm Turnbull well knows, and Kevin Rudd has committed himself to doing so. Similarly, his 20/20 target - 20% renewable energy target by 2020 - is by definition better than the Coalition's 15% target within the same time frame. Kevin Rudd actually uses the terms 'solar power', 'wind power' and 'renewable energy' without sneering - I saw him do as much on the 7:30 Report tonight - so of course I have more confidence leaving action on climate change to him and his government than the alternative.

That's not to say it's all up to a single government - think global, act local and all that. But individual goodwill only goes so far; at some point,
new targets, policies, strategies and actions from all levels of government, especially federal and state, are required. I have no confidence in the Howard or Costello governments to take the required action but I am prepared to give Rudd a go. For the moment he's earned my faith.

That's about it kids! Hope you're still awake. Wait and see now, I guess. I'm still cautiously pessimistic about the outcome of Saturday night but if this blog does nothing else than change one person's vote, then it's all worth it.

On second thought: Nah, that's bullshit. It's gotta change about 400,000 people's votes. People in marginal seats. Who probably don't read homo blogs.


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At 22/11/07 10:29 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a single, gay, thirty-something, white, middle class, professional male, your #2 reason is the main reason I will vote for neither the Coalition nor Labor. I am resigned to the fact that neither will truly progress the proper recognition of gay relationships.

At 22/11/07 3:46 pm, Blogger TimT said...

Hey, I just read through your 10 reasons. Come election time I like to remind myself of what the issues are, how they've been dealt with by politicians, and who (if anybody) I agree with.

At the moment I'm liking the calls for fixed election terms, reforms to the senate, cuts in government spending, etc, by Rudd, which possibly - maybe - might just wipe out some of the corruption that's taken place under the management of the Howard Government.

On the other hand, I'm pro-nuclear and don't really think that Australia will be any 'fairer' under Labor.

Perhaps your strongest point is no. 9 - Abbott, Kevin Andrews, et al. Trouble is, I can just see myself coming to hate Rudd and his mob as much, if not more.

Nah, screw it, I hate Rudd already.

Will it make a difference? In my case, probably, no. I'm in Kelvin Thompson's seat of Wills - safe Labor. But who knows? People are saying that the Coalition might lose Wentworth or Bennelong or...

At 22/11/07 4:18 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Thanks Tim.

Like you, I have serious reservations about Kevin Rudd and some of his ministers. However, I have to believe they literally could not be any worse than the current alternative. It's not a great point on which to determine my vote I know, but for the arguments I've outlined I believe the Coalition has blown any right to seek another term in government.

And it's not just a case of Labor thereby winning by default - I also believe they have some sound policies worthy of a look-in.

All I'd suggest is don't hate Rudd until he gives you legitimate reason as PM to do so. Give him at least a fighting chance to prove you and me wrong.


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