I have been around politics for some 22 years and in my time Iâ€™ve heard some pretty disgusting sentiments being expressed by our elected representatives, but this observation from our opposition leader, Bill Shorten, during the last leadersâ€™ debate with Malcolm Turnbull, takes the cake. While discussing the same sex marriage, Bill had this to say:
I will put a bill into parliament to vote upon within the first 100 days after the election to make marriage equality legal in this country. Weâ€™ve seen two terrible events in the last week that have shown hate and terrorism does exist in modern societies. I donâ€™t want to give haters a chance to … make life harder for LGBTI people. Letâ€™s just vote.
Put aside the question of which political process makes better sense in this case â€“ the Coalitionâ€™s plebiscite followed by a legislative change or Laborâ€™s legislative change without a plebiscite. There are good arguments for or against either option, but itâ€™s largely irrelevant; judging by the opinion polls, both will ultimately result in the same outcome: legalised same-sex marriage in Australia. Even put aside the question of where you stand on the issue: for, against, or agnostic; that’s largely irrelevant too.
Focus instead on Shortenâ€™s rationale why we shouldnâ€™t have a plebiscite and instead go straight to a Parliamentary vote: because to have a plebiscite it is to have an extended public debate on the issue; and if we have a debate, that will â€œgive haters a chance to … make life harder for LGBTI people.â€ We start arguing about something like â€œmarriage equityâ€ and the next thing you know some bigots will kill somebody.
Think about it for a moment, re-read it, and let thatÂ sink.
The leader of one of the two major democratic parties in Australia is effectivelyÂ saying this:
1) we should minimise the public debate of controversial issues because you canâ€™t trust the plebs to behave themselves.
2) free speech and free debate lead to terrorism, so we should have less of them.
3) weâ€™re going to get the outcome we want (legalised same-sex marriage) whatever happens, so letâ€™s just skip all the bullshit like letting the electorate (or, in this case, the minority of the electorate) voice their views.
People are a nuisance. They either fail to line up behind the correct position, or even whenÂ they do, they donâ€™t do so in a unanimous and enthusiastic enough way. You, yokels, donâ€™t waste our time; just go and sit in the corner and watch some reality TV or something, and let us, your better, wiser and more enlightened representatives, go uninterrupted about the very important business of governing you.
And we wonder why people hate politicians.