Ms Christine Forster
Monday 24 August 2015
Dear Ms Forster,
I am writing to you concerning an opinion piece you wrote before the 2013 Federal Election for the Star Observer called “Vote Liberal for Real Change”.[i]
Specifically, you began by writing:
“You only have one vote on September 7 and this election is the most important in a generation.
“For many of us in the GLBTI community marriage equality is a key political issue at a federal level and the positions of the two major parties on this important question are virtually the same. Both are leaving it up to their new members of parliament to decide, after the election” [emphasis added].
It was abundantly clear at the time that this description was inaccurate – that in no way, shape or form could the positions of Labor and the Coalition be described as “virtually the same”.
Indeed, as I commented on your opinion piece at the time:
“The second paragraph in this op-ed is rubbish. No, Ms Forster, the positions of the two major parties on this important question are NOT virtually the same.
“One major party has a party platform in favour of marriage equality, rules which guarantee its MPs a conscience vote, a majority of sitting MPs who voted in favour of marriage equality just last year, a Prime Minister who supports it, and a commitment to reintroduce a Bill within 100 days.
“The other – your brother’s Coalition – has left it up to whoever is elected at this election to decide whether to even have a conscience vote (with the possibility that there is not a conscience vote/all its MPs are forced to vote against), a Leader who continues to oppose marriage equality, and who does not expect a Bill to even arise in the next parliament, and not a single sitting MP who voted for marriage equality in 2012 (despite Liberals always saying that backbenchers can vote freely on every Bill).
“I don’t know what your definition of ‘virtually the same’ is, but it is in no dictionary that I can find.”
Unfortunately, the description that you used then has turned out to be even more inaccurate now, almost two years later.
The Labor Opposition today is led by a supporter of marriage equality, who has made a similar commitment to his predecessor (to introduce a Bill within 100 days, if elected), with the vast majority of ALP MPs and Senators indicating they will vote in favour of marriage equality when it next comes to a vote.
Meanwhile, the Liberal-National Government remains led by a Prime Minister who is strongly opposed to the full legal equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians, and a Coalition party room that spoke two to one against even allowing a conscience vote on the subject, meaning only a small handful of Coalition MPs will be able to vote in favour of reform.
To make matters worse, the Abbott Liberal-National Government is apparently intent on denying a House of Representatives vote on this matter during the current term of parliament (by using its numbers on the Selection of Bills Committee), instead concentrating on finding ways to defer the issue for yet another term, even considering the option of an inappropriate and unnecessary constitutional referendum to help ‘stack the decks’ against marriage equality.
Given all of the above, I have two simple questions for you:
- Do you now concede that your pre-election opinion piece was inaccurate?
- Will you apologise to anyone who was silly enough to actually believe what you wrote?
I look forward to receiving your correspondence addressing the above questions.
[i] 4 September 2013: http://www.starobserver.com.au/opinion/election-opinion-vote-liberal-for-real-change/108960