Quick Post: @Drag0nista on Rudd’s #marriageequality pitch #auspol

Over on her blog, @Drag0nista (I’m still not sure of the etiquette in naming people on blogs) discusses Rudd’s rhetoric on marriage equality:

It was the first time my attention had been drawn to the careful positioning of Rudd’s support for same sex marriage. It was the first time I realised his support was not unequivocal. He gives the churches a free pass. […] It’s quite clever really. This positioning allows Rudd to present a modern, progressive face to some voters and a traditional, conservative face to another. [Source: Matthewson, P. ‘Rudd’s doublespeak on marriage equality’ Drag0nista’s Blog, 22 August 2013]

Although Drag0nista acknowledges the separation of Church and State issue — ‘I’m not suggesting that Rudd, his government, or any other government should impose same sex marriage on churches. I support the separation of Church and State.’ — she still finds the position duplicitous.

Which is odd.

First up, we should abandon the separation of Church and State.  If a church decided not to allow people of different ethnic backgrounds to marry, there would be some very furrowed brows.  The Church should be subordinate to the State, not given a special position as ‘separate’.

Second — and more relevantly to Drag0nista’s blog — we seem to have reached a meta-stage of the conversation where we don’t merely discuss what the various policies are, but we discuss the significance of how they’re presented.  To communications people, this is a big deal.  I get that.  But to the rest of us interested in the bread and butter of policy qua policy, it seems strange to describe somebody as duplicitous simply because they don’t express a policy in precisely the way we might like.

Drag0nista’s point is that Rudd hasn’t taken the Jimmy Carter approach of trying to encourage churches to be less homophobic.  There is some truth to this point: we should look to our leaders to be leaders both politically and socially.  Rudd is walking the easy path by taking the lowest common denominator position: getting marriage equality into legislation without spooking the religious nutcase horses.

But that is an altogether separate issue beyond the question of his policy for what he’s going to do about marriage equality.  In this sense, he is being clear: homosexuals will be able to marry in the same way that Catholics can’t get married in synagogues.  If you can find somebody to marry you, you can get married.  The won’t be a legislative hurdle.

What should offend us a whole lot more is that Rudd is once again offering a conscience vote.  If parties will not agree to let every matter be a conscience vote, parties should not let marriage equality slide into the uncertain waters of conscience votes.  If it’s party policy that marriage equality be supported, party members should vote accordingly.  Simple.

 

Quick Post: Regional Resettlement Agreement released #auspol #asylumseekers #refugees

English: Kevin Rudd on Novembre 2005. Français...

English: Kevin Rudd on Novembre 2005. Français : Kevin Rudd en novembre 2005. (Image découpée à partir Image:Rudd4.jpg) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, I quickly knocked out a preliminary analysis of the agreement between Australia and Papua New Guinea.  As predicted, there hasn’t been much analysis of the new policy, but lots of gnashing of teeth.  Since then, the content of the agreement has been released and we have got a better picture of what’s going on.

Needless to say, the agreement shows that this is really a fourth- or fifth-best option.  We should continue to ask whether this approach perverts something important in the unwritten understanding of what a Regional Cooperative Approach (also called a Regional Protection Arrangement, also called  a Regional Protection Framework) would be.

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Quick Post: New asylum seeker policy – questions and criticisms #auspol #asylumseekers

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (Photo credit: eGuide Travel)

As was largely predicted in policy circles, Kevin Rudd has announced a new agreement with the Government of Papua New Guinea regarding asylum seekers.  From today, any irregular maritime arrival seeking asylum will be resettled in Papua New Guinea instead of Australia.

Commentators from both sides of the political divide have done an excellent job of polarising the debate.  Over the next 48 hours, expect to see a raft of articles published which criticise the Government for deciding to implement some strategy at odds with the author’s preferred option.  Partisan conservatives will say the measures are just window dressing and won’t work because John Howard’s scheme involved temporary protection visas, and the usual groups will say that the only solution is no solution because there isn’t a solution and nothing to be solved, &c., &c.

Which is a shame because this policy is interesting and should be analysed thoroughly.

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If George Lucas wrote #Respill of the Jedi (#Kevenge of the Sith?)… #auspol

The tyre on my car was slashed last night.  Thus, you get my PhotoChopping…

The first version had Rudd come back as Planet Rudd, only to be destroyed by the Death Star/Cabinet.  The thought, alas, was too plausible and so I had to change it lest the reader be overcome with a haunting sadness.

Despite being on the other side of politics, I am looking forward to Monday’s RuddLetting.  This is because I’m a mean and horrible conservative who delights in Schadenfreude.  Very quietly, I would like to see Senator Wong as our Foreign Minister — and not only because I think Finance is a poor man’s Treasury portfolio (Swan will never give that one up).

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Abbott.  The weeping sore of the ALP helped to create an environment in which Abbott’s style of politics — populist, vulgar, anti-conservative — was able to thrive.  A better government has to result in a better opposition… I hope.

Grass stains and fresh fruit remind our shoes of horse glue… and the advanced skills of interpretation

I — without reservation or qualification — recommend reading David Marr‘s essay in The Quarterly Essay, ‘Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd‘.

For foreigners and people disinterested in politics, Kevin Rudd is our most recent former Prime Minister.  Australia had a bit of a problem: it had a political reader who wasn’t engaged in the public discourse and lacked a popular narrative.  To the average person, he was something of an unknown quantity.  When the Government faced problems, the inability of the public to understand the Prime Minister resulted in plummeting popularity polls — from his record-breaking highs to remarkably average results in only a few months.

When dealing with historical figures, writers situate them in a context which provides a coherent picture for analysis.  There’s nothing new about this: writers such as Livy and Tacitus used these techniques to provide crisp images of their subjects: what drove these people? what made them who they were? what part of them could we emulate in our own lives? what part of them should we avoid in our own lives? Continue reading