Yes or No?

By September 25, 2017Australian Politics

Everybody with a modicum of common sense realises that this current opinion poll on the legalisation of same-sex marriage was initially designed as a way of delaying or hopefully preventing any vote in parliament on the subject. The ham-fisted nature of this statistically useless voluntary non-binding survey will turn out either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ majority. The people who originally came up with the ‘idea’ of a plebiscite, such as Abbott and Abetz who, although spruiking all that ‘seeing what the people want’ and ‘it was an election promise’ garbage have not been known for keeping election promises, nor thinking about the people. Neither of them found the need to ask the people when, in 2004, the Marriage Act was changed to make same-sex marriage illegal.

There have been numerous properly conducted, statistically meaningful opinion polls on same-sex marriage that clearly demonstrate an almost 2 to 1 majority in favour of legalisation. However, because the aim of the current opinion poll is to prevent same-sex marriage, those opinion polls must be ignored.

If the ‘yes’ vote is overwhelming, then Turnbull wins and he may even get a boost in the polls because of it, and same-sex marriage will be legalised. It will also be interesting to see which of the religious nutters in the Liberal and National parties will vote against such a strong result. They will show themselves to be the real bigots, who believe that their religious belief must be inflicted on others, and that they have a right to discriminate against same-sex couples.

If the vote turns out to be a slender ‘yes’ majority, perhaps even more of the Coalition religious nutters will feel justified in voting against legalisation in what should be a free vote in parliament. It is doubtful if even these nutters will be enough to prevent legalisation. So, Turnbull will get a less than stunning win.

In either case of a large or small win for Turnbull, Abbott will feel incensed yet again and will continue to white-ant Turnbull at every opportunity, as the indignity of losing the same-sex marriage vote will be piled on the indignity of being supplanted by Turnbull as Prime Minister. In that case the Coalition will continue its paralysis in dealing with things like climate change.

If there is a small ‘no’ majority, Abbott and his sycophants will crow that enough of the people have said ‘no’, that we should not risk changing the law. In this case, for a free vote in parliament, Turnbull will have to argue for a free vote in the party room. This would be exceedingly difficult, as most would argue against it, because they will realise that this would make the result of the opinion poll meaningless. This may be the only time they intersect with the reality of the poll. If, as is most likely, there is no free vote in parliament, then Turnbull loses and he will appear even weaker and less consequential than currently. Abbott will continue his undermining, but this time mixed with an element of gloating. This will probably be the end of Turnbull’s political career.

If there is a large ‘no’ majority, which seems unlikely, Turnbull will receive a huge kick in the guts and likely could not remain as Prime Minister. Abbott will not replace him, as too many will remember how bad he was. Currently, there are very few if any viable options to take over. Indeed, some of those who have ambitions in this regard (e.g. Morrison, Dutton) would be so diabolical as simply to hasten the electoral demise of the Liberal Party. Others include Julie Bishop, who is of the wrong gender for a leader of the Liberal Party, while people like Birmingham and Frydenberg are a little too green.

Ironically, the only way the Liberal Party can survive, even in its currently parlous state, will be if same-sex marriage breezes through parliament. If it does, Turnbull wins, but Abbott’s undermining will intensify, so the Liberals lose. If it does barely get through, Turnbull is wounded and Abbott will continue undermining, so the Liberals lose. If it doesn’t get through, Turnbull loses, and is replaced by Dutton or Morrison, so the Liberals lose. In the long run, it looks like a win for the nation.

4 Comments

  • Jon says:

    You’ve elaborated a little below but I have to take issue with your opening line that this is in any way an “opinion poll” or plebiscite as some keep referring to it. It’s neither, and is especially unlike a properly run opinion poll, which is adjusted for bias using a range of statistically valid methods. This nasty, unnecessary, time- and money-wasting fiasco is no more than a survey of those who actually received a survey (some have been stolen from mail boxes and dumped as we know) and who then bothered to respond. It will not be adjusted in any way because the govt instructed the Bureau to do nothing more than count “votes”.

    The government itself expects only about two thirds of eligible voters to respond and the smaller the return the better the chance of a NO vote if past examples are anything to go by. I still think the NO mob is pissing into the wind and Australians will say a resounding yes but that won’t stop some Members from ignoring the survey. I may be attributing more intelligence to them than they actually possess but the conservatives and anti-change brigade in parliament would argue that the lower the turnout the less obligation they have to follow the wishes of their electorates – especially if there’ only say a 10% difference between the two options.

    Pity Turnbull didn’t ask Australians what they think of a government which has offloaded responsibility for management of its gas resources to multinational companies and which refuses to rein in How-Cost’s ridiculously generous tax concessions – which will cost taxpayers $40B.

    • admin says:

      You don’t have to convince me that this is anything but a waste of money and statistically pointless. The government thought it was a face-saving exercise because their plebiscite was knocked over in the senate. I think it just makes them look like a bunch of incompetent buffoons. However, from an anthropological perspective, it will be interesting to see how the ultraconservative anthropoids in the Coalition vote, should there be a free vote.

  • Jim says:

    I agree with Jon in that I would expect the vote to be YES. As suggested the real risk is what happens if the YES vote wins by less than 10% and proponents of both sides feel that they have no need to follow the result of the survey. In particular this will apply if the turn out is only about 66% which would mean that the majority vote would be less than 50% of the eligible voters. The whole business is a waste of time and money and annoys me intensely. We have much better things to do with $120 million. I also suspect that the opinion polls may be underestimating the NO vote in country areas.

    • admin says:

      I don’t know which, if any of the possibilities I suggest might happen, will come to pass. I just thought it interesting to have a think about what would happen, and the irony that the best possible outcome of the idiotic thing for the Liberals would be precisely what it was designed to prevent. When and if there is a free vote, those that ignore the ‘poll’ will do so at their peril, because, I am sure there will be people willing to jump all over them. This is because they spruiked ‘let the people have a say’ then when the people did, they ignored them. That will be interesting.

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