Thursday, December 7, 2017

Today by Sean Kelly

A victory for equality
Same-sex marriage has been voted into law

Source: Bodie Strain, Flickr


… is that all there is to say today? Well, perhaps just one thing should be added.

There will be a lot of talk about this vote being parliament at its best. Don’t buy it. This victory has precious little to do with the parliament, and everything to do with the voters of Australia, the LGBTQI people who have fought so hard for it, and those who have led the campaign for equality over decades.

Our politicians were still playing idiotic games until the last minute. Bill Shorten began Question Time by stating that he’d earlier contacted Malcolm Turnbull offering to cancel proceedings so that MPs could get on with the marriage legislation. The offer was fine, though would not have achieved much: a saving of an hour. But why bring it up publicly? This was grandstanding, the injection of partisan politics into a day that should not have been about politicians, and it was unnecessary.

Turnbull, for his part, could have accepted the offer. Instead, he insisted that the government would be accountable in Question Time – this from a man who had recently cancelled an entire week of parliament. But that wasn’t the only issue. The prime minister bizarrely abstained from a number of amendments moved to the marriage bill today. His vote didn’t matter, all of the amendments were defeated, but it felt strange, this refusal to declare a position on matters – both marriage and religious freedom – about which he claims to care deeply. It felt weak. It was weak.

And then there were all the politicians who moved amendments for no reason other than to signal to their base a sympathy with misguided fears. The diehard conservative politicians have twisted and turned their arguments as necessary. We were repeatedly told by the No campaign that the marriage vote was a referendum on Safe Schools or political correctness. In which case, there was a clear national result, and the carping should stop. Now they have changed direction: arguing their voices were not heard. But they were heard – and comprehensively dismissed, perceived accurately by wearied voters as a dishonest campaigning tactic. The campaign is over, but the dishonest tactics are still being rolled out. Marriage equality never had anything to do with any issue other than marriage. The continued pantomime of pretending to voters that it does is dishonest and unscrupulous. 

The main point is much simpler. The prime minister and most of his colleagues decided to handball parliament’s responsibility to the people. The people got the job done, and should celebrate. But in this case parliament failed us. Not all parliamentarians bear equal responsibility for that failure. But this is not a demonstration of the wonders of our system. It is the furthest thing from it.

None of those complaints are the most important aspect of today. The most important thing, the only thing really, is that LGBTQI people will very soon be able to marry anyone they choose. They have waited too long, and the process was abominable. Nevertheless, the result is the right one. Equality is, or should be, at the centre of everything we hope for as a society. Today is a day of celebration. 

In other news


Straight outta Narrandera

Victoria Lee takes on the Victoria’s Secret runway

Darryn King

“There are occupational hazards besides routinely wearing winter clothes in the summer and summer clothes in the winter. ‘You get your hair pulled, you get pokes in the eye. I’ve been poked with pins and scratched with zippers. Not on purpose, I like to think. Hopefully not.’ Our interview took place before publisher Condé Nast cut ties with photographer Terry Richardson due to longstanding reports of inappropriate behaviour, but Lee did speak, in general terms, about unprofessional working conditions and poor treatment of models in the industry.

‘I’m lucky enough that I haven’t experienced that specifically, but I think there should be more consideration of what they’re making the girls do.’”read on


Anthony Bourdain, the anti-foodie foodie

The so-called bad-boy celebrity chef has always offered a smarter take – and now we’re beginning to notice

Matthew Clayfield

“The evidence has been piling up for a while, of course. Bourdain’s first television series, A Cook’s Tour on the Food Network, was basically what it said on the label. (You can catch that series on Netflix, and it’s a fascinating document about being a middle-aged career cook whose book has become an unexpected bestseller.) But in the series that followed it – No Reservations on the Travel Channel and Parts Unknown, the tenth season of which just finished airing on CNN – Bourdain’s desire to do something more important than simply service the bourgeois-bohemian predilection for food porn was immediately apparent. (The only other celebrity chef whose work comes close is Jamie Oliver, who clearly believes he has a social mission. We’ll come back to the others, who essentially amount to corporate mouthpieces, in a moment.) Travel broke something in Bourdain. Or, perhaps, fixed it.”READ ON

Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly is a columnist for Fairfax and a former adviser to Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.


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