September 12th 2015

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Arab world must help fix Syria and Libya crises

FAMILY AND SOCIETY They don't want diversity but to impose conformity

CANBERRA OBSERVED Young Nats jump aboard generational juggernaut

TRADE UNIONS Why royal commissioner declined to step down

RESEARCH Spin on the contraceptive pill a bit hard to swallow

LIFE ISSUES Singer escapes Fisher's net in euthanasia debate

HISTORY OF INDONESIA Suharto's "New Order" a period of stability

CULTURE Academic centres turn on Western civilisation

FAMILY LIFE A father's presence in the home: part II

OBITUARY Historian Robert Conquest documented the horrors of Stalinism

PUBLIC HEALTH UN knows: harm reduction does not reduce harm

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Witness to Marriage Day, August 1

CINEMA On the rough road away from loneliness: Last Cab to Darwin

BOOK REVIEW Good science, specious argumentation


The coup against Tony Abbott

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Young Nats jump aboard generational juggernaut

News Weekly, September 12, 2015

Media reports that the NSW Young Nationals had voted in favour of same-sex marriage at its recent conference confirmed the seeming inevitability of change at the political level in Australia.

Young Nats jump aboard generational SSM juggernaut

Just as the issue had begun to fade from the public eye following the Abbott Government’s decision to refer the issue to a plebiscite or referendum, the Young Nats vote was a reminder that, even within socially conservative parties, the need to seen to be in tune with popular opinion is very strong.

And it further shows that the younger the demographic, the more likely the vote in favour of same-sex marriage.

Of the four major political parties, the Nationals have been the most steadfast in their support of the traditional family unit and in their opposition to any proposed social change to broaden marriage to partners of the same sex.

This view held by the Nationals is as much about trying to safeguard the family as it is the normal political prudence of resisting the constant changes that so-called progressive parties demand in order to “improve” society, ranging from divorce reform to abortion laws to the bestowing of new rights on groups of people.

Few social issues in recent times have emerged that require the demand for immediate change from their proponents as same-sex marriage.

This is particularly ironic given that “marriage equality” is such a recent phenomenon even among homosexual activists. It was not so long ago that many gay activists in the 1970s and 1980s were steadfastly opposed to the institution of marriage itself, and would not have contemplated advocating on its behalf.

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to introduce a law to provide for marriage between people of the same sex on April 1, 2001. It was followed by Belgium two years later, Spain and Canada in 2005. Even the U.S. state of California did not enact same-sex marriage laws until 2008, which were subsequently discontinued until being re-enacted in 2013.

In other words same-sex marriage is just over a decade and a half old as an issue for politicians, while the institution of marriage is at least 5,000 years old.

In Australia the media, the corporate sector, NGOs, academia, and unions, to name a few, are proponents of change, while supporters of the cultural status quo are not even given the right to advertise their side of the argument.

Nevertheless, the Young Nationals move is a message to their elders in the Parliament. “This outcome continues a proud NSW Young Nats tradition of working within the Nationals to push the envelope … challenging our senior counterparts and leading the debate on important issues to young people in regional NSW,” the conference boasted afterwards.

A statement issued by the Young Nationals after the vote expressed, somewhat hyperbolically, that the issue was important in regional Australia and that “a young homosexual man living in regional NSW is six times more likely to commit suicide” than other members of the community.

Putting aside the dubious proposition that giving homosexual couples the right to marry would reduce the suicide rate, same-sex marriage is a low-order issue in regional Australia according to party polling.

The young Nats expressed “disappointment and disillusionment” at their elders in the Parliament for maintaining their traditional view on marriage. However, even within the Nationals federal parliamentary party, three MPs have chosen to “break ranks”, including future leadership aspirant Darren Chester.

Mr Chester’s decision to go out early and declare his support for same-sex marriage is likely to have harmed his standing within the party, but he has made a long-term calculation that eventually history will be on his side.

Claire Coulton, chairwoman of the NSW Nationals Women’s Council, declared her disappointment that same-sex marriage had been delayed by the Coalition in Canberra.

“I believe, as most members of my generation do, that it’s about equality for people who are our friends and our family members,” Ms Coulton told Fairfax Media. “It’s a shame when something that is publicly supported becomes a game of political cat and mouse, and I think that’s been disappointing to a lot of Coalition supporters.”

Ms Coulton is the daughter of Mark Coulton, the member for Parkes and chief whip for the Nationals. He is a supporter of traditional marriage.

A marathon Coalition meeting decided to maintain the current position of denying Coalition MPs a conscience vote on the issue at least until the next election.

Tony Abbott’s preference to push the issue out to after the next election was the right decision, and having a popular vote on the issue has the overwhelming support of the people.

A decision on a referendum or a plebiscite is still to be made, but the momentum is clearly with change, not against it.

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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