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The thought police… funded by you

By Mark Parton MLA - 24 August 2017 23

Mark Parton with Ivan Hinton-Teoh from Australian Marriage Equality at the Canberra Marriage Equality Mobilisation Event.


Can you imagine if any state or territory government in this country made the bold call to spend tax-payer’s money campaigning for a ‘No’ vote in the upcoming postal plebiscite? This would be portrayed by the left as one of the most evil and divisive things that had ever seen.

It’s not much different than a state or territory government spending tax payers money campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote.

It’s not the business of government to tell you how to think. The marriage equality issue is a matter of conscience that individuals will decide upon based on many personal and often cultural and religious factors. Sure, individual members of government and/or opposition can run their own campaigns, on their own time and with their own money, but it certainly shouldn’t be paid for by ratepayers.

The Chief Minister presented a motion to the Legislative Assembly last week which called upon the Assembly “to support the ACT Government in joining and actively participating in the campaign to achieve marriage equality.”

I am voting yes in the plebiscite, but I was outraged by this motion. I sat across from the Chief Minister as he spoke to the motion and I heard him say these words.

“I’m confident in the support of all my (Labor) colleagues for marriage equality. I’m confident in that support because all of my colleagues are great people.”

So there we were calling for a non divisive, respectful debate and starting it by asserting that all ‘great’ people will vote yes. Assumingly bad and mediocre people will vote no.

If you’re voting no, it doesn’t mean that you are a bad person. It is your right.

You should vote how your heart tells you to vote. If you wish to seek guidance from friends, family or others, by all means, do so, but I’m certainly not going to tell you how to vote. It is blatantly wrong for this government to spend your money campaigning for a Yes.

Was the motion carried? Of course it was….with the support of the spineless Greens. So your money will be spent on this campaign.

The Chief Minister was asked a number of times about the cost of this active campaign, but he refused to come up with an answer. My email inbox is chock full of angry correspondence from Yes and No supporters alike. They all share the same theme….that this is an abuse of taxpayers money to push a personal agenda.

This is what I said in my maiden speech to the Legislative Assembly in December.

“I’m here for the LGBTI community in the ACT. For the most part, it’s not a concentrated community at all…it’s just a bunch of people who are scattered across all parts of the city who’s sexuality happens to be different to mine.

I’m not an advocate for same sex marriage… what I am is just sick to death of talking about it. It is inevitable that this country will legalise same sex marriage and I wish we would just get on with it.”

What’s Your opinion?


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23 Responses to
The thought police… funded by you
dungfungus 10:00 am 25 Aug 17

No_Nose said :

Holden Caulfield said :

With that said, it’s the best chance we have to introduce progressive change. While I think it’s okay to highlight how daft the approach is, at the same time, the postal survey needs to be respected and embraced by the pro-SSM movement. Failure in this survey will be a huge setback and if the left-leaning among us have learnt anything over recent years (pointing to Brexit and Trump) it’s that brow beating people with what we think is the correct opinion or approach is likely to increase protest votes.

The whole idea that we get to vote on what human rights and basic decency we allow certain parts of the community to have is quite simply abhorant and I can see why some would be so disgusted by this process that they find it hard to participate.

The thing is though, no matter how morally reprehensible this opinion poll is, it is what a bunch of spineless politicians who are unwilling to do their job have hoisted upon us and failing to be involved in the process is even more counter-productive.

At least it is an “opinion poll” that everyone gets a say in. We are constantly reminded that other opinion polls show massive support for SSM but I have never seen these published anywhere nor was I contacted by anyone seeking my opinion. Does anyone have any links?

dungfungus 8:13 am 25 Aug 17

John Moulis said :

I don’t want to state my view again, it is well known. I am voting Yes and I am not for turning. But it is interesting to consider how we got into this mess in the first place.

In 2001 Canada legalised gay marriage and an Australian man in Toronto married his male partner. In 2004 they migrated to Australia and tried to get their marriage legally recognised. Murdoch’s right wing rag The Australian picked up the story and pointed out that the Marriage Act did not refer to male or female, it just referred to “marriage”. Therefore there was nothing to stop gay marriage or the legal recognition of overseas gay unions.

At the behest of Murdoch’s newspapers and The Australian Christian Lobby, John Howard’s government introduced into the Marriage Act an amendment stating that marriage is between “one man and one woman”.

The Labor Party isn’t lillywhite in this regard. They gave bipartisan support to the amendment and it was almost a unanimous vote in favour in both houses of parliament.

I have said on this site in the past that I regard John Howard to be the worst prime minister this country has ever had and Peter Costello to be the worst treasurer, and the changing of the Marriage Act is one of the reasons why I hold this view.

Howard also took our guns from us, and our jerbs! Terrible guy.

No_Nose 6:54 am 25 Aug 17

Holden Caulfield said :

With that said, it’s the best chance we have to introduce progressive change. While I think it’s okay to highlight how daft the approach is, at the same time, the postal survey needs to be respected and embraced by the pro-SSM movement. Failure in this survey will be a huge setback and if the left-leaning among us have learnt anything over recent years (pointing to Brexit and Trump) it’s that brow beating people with what we think is the correct opinion or approach is likely to increase protest votes.

The whole idea that we get to vote on what human rights and basic decency we allow certain parts of the community to have is quite simply abhorant and I can see why some would be so disgusted by this process that they find it hard to participate.

The thing is though, no matter how morally reprehensible this opinion poll is, it is what a bunch of spineless politicians who are unwilling to do their job have hoisted upon us and failing to be involved in the process is even more counter-productive.

John Moulis 12:24 am 25 Aug 17

I don’t want to state my view again, it is well known. I am voting Yes and I am not for turning. But it is interesting to consider how we got into this mess in the first place.

In 2001 Canada legalised gay marriage and an Australian man in Toronto married his male partner. In 2004 they migrated to Australia and tried to get their marriage legally recognised. Murdoch’s right wing rag The Australian picked up the story and pointed out that the Marriage Act did not refer to male or female, it just referred to “marriage”. Therefore there was nothing to stop gay marriage or the legal recognition of overseas gay unions.

At the behest of Murdoch’s newspapers and The Australian Christian Lobby, John Howard’s government introduced into the Marriage Act an amendment stating that marriage is between “one man and one woman”.

The Labor Party isn’t lillywhite in this regard. They gave bipartisan support to the amendment and it was almost a unanimous vote in favour in both houses of parliament.

I have said on this site in the past that I regard John Howard to be the worst prime minister this country has ever had and Peter Costello to be the worst treasurer, and the changing of the Marriage Act is one of the reasons why I hold this view.

Holden Caulfield 8:04 pm 24 Aug 17

Mysteryman said :

It’s very telling that you feel giving Australians a say in a proposal to change a very fundamental part of our social structure is “wasteful”. It’s not surprising, though. The Labor party love to silence anything that conflicts with their party policy.

Yeah, but…

How come the feds, who just happened at the time to be the Coalition, felt comfortable to introduce the Marriage Amendment Act 2004 without giving Australians a say?

Why now and not then?

Why the double standard?

The points about the failures of the federal ALP bottling their opportunity to introduce SSM are very well made, but let’s not try and pretend a non-binding postal survey is a consistent or defendable approach to changing the Marriage Act.

It’s not.

It never has been and never will be.

With that said, it’s the best chance we have to introduce progressive change. While I think it’s okay to highlight how daft the approach is, at the same time, the postal survey needs to be respected and embraced by the pro-SSM movement. Failure in this survey will be a huge setback and if the left-leaning among us have learnt anything over recent years (pointing to Brexit and Trump) it’s that brow beating people with what we think is the correct opinion or approach is likely to increase protest votes.

Mysteryman 4:32 pm 24 Aug 17

Chris Steel MLA said :

The Federal Parliament should have done its job and legislated for marriage equality weeks and year ago – then we wouldn’t be talking about the issue at all – but that is on your Party.

The Federal Parliament has done its job. Repeatedly. They were doing their job when they voted down SSM over a dozen times during the last 10 years. Or does “doing their job” entail only what they do that you personally agree with?

It concerns me that you, as an MLA, have such a short memory. How old were you in 2010? What about 2007? Both of those elections resulted in Labor governments that voted down SSM on multiple occasions. So why is it suddenly the fault of the LNP? I’m not

Chris Steel MLA said :

It is a drop in the water compared to the Liberal’s $122 million wasteful postal survey.

It’s very telling that you feel giving Australians a say in a proposal to change a very fundamental part of our social structure is “wasteful”. It’s not surprising, though. The Labor party love to silence anything that conflicts with their party policy.

Mysteryman 4:17 pm 24 Aug 17

You’re absolutely right, Mark.

The real issue isn’t the plebiscite or SSM. What concerns me most are the attempts by one section of society to vilify, harass, intimidate, abuse, and silence the other side. It’s shameful and it’s setting a very dangerous precedent in which “wrong-think” is punished by the media and those in society with the loudest mouths – which typically happen to be people who are politically left-leaning. Their approach has been disgracefully authoritarian and divisive, and the more people who draw attention to that, the better.

CanberraStreets 4:10 pm 24 Aug 17

I am a supporter of ungendering marriage and do genuinely believe that a significant majority of Australians are like-minded. This seems to be the view of most ‘yes’ supporters and has been part of the argument against flinging $122 Million on a non-binding survey.

Given that we yes voters believe we have both the moral right and the numbers on our side, it is unclear why the ACT Government needs to spend money to preach to the converted.

Holden Caulfield 4:08 pm 24 Aug 17

Some good points made from both sides on the discussion here.

As one who will vote yes in favour of the introduction to SSM I am clearly conflicted by this.

You could argue that due to the fact the ACT Government had previously introduced SSM, only to be put back in its place by John Howard et al, that it has a mandate, or at least a duty to its constituents, to actively campaign for a change to introduce legislation.

In theory, I agree that governments shouldn’t be spending money telling us what to think in this context, but here we are having a non-binding $122m postal survey, in lieu of a spineless Federal Government unwilling to act with any authority on the issue.

Like Parton I too am “sick to death of talking about it”. However, the “it” I am talking about is entirely different to his.

Like Parton I am straight, but I am not in any way sick to death of people actively campaigning for SSM.

What I am sick to death of is people who already have the right to marry, and are going to be largely unaffected by the introduction of SSM, being sick to death of complaining about those seeking change.

You may as well be saying, “I already have the privilege you seek and while I claim that I don’t object to you having it too, for the time that you don’t have that privilege I am sick to death of hearing you trying to achieve the same privilege. Can’t you just be quiet and leave me to enjoy my privilege with my other privileged friends.”

To me such a position is ungracious and shows a lack of tolerance and empathy.

Garfield 3:13 pm 24 Aug 17

Chris Steel MLA said :

I do genuinely appreciate your support for marriage equality Mr Parton. However, saying that you are sick to death of talking about this issue is highly patronising and dismissive of the importance of this issue for the thousands of LGBTIQ Canberrans that have been waiting years and decades to enjoy same right afforded to every other Australian. And they will fight their rights regardless of whether someone that can get married is sick of the issue – and the Government will back them.

The Federal Parliament should have done its job and legislated for marriage equality weeks and year ago – then we wouldn’t be talking about the issue at all – but that is on your Party.

I disagree with you placing of blame on the ACT Government for providing support to the LGBTIQ community during this divisive survey. The money that the ACT Government is spending is largely going towards counselling to support the LGBTIQ community. It is a drop in the water compared to the Liberal’s $122 million wasteful postal survey. And no additional money would have had not have to be spent but for your colleagues in the Federal Parliament unleashing a wave of hate on young Canberrans.

People do indeed have a right to vote however they wish in this survey but Canberrans overwhelmingly support marriage equality are in favour of marriage equality. I think it is a thoroughly good thing that our Government is representing the community on this issue, supported by the Assembly last week.

Chris, I’m voting yes, but I am disturbed by the ACT government being involved in the campaign. The ill fated attempt by the ACT government to legislate for same sex marriage in the ACT demonstrated that marriage is a federal issue. I have no problem with the government injecting some additional funds into support services for people who may be negatively impacted by the campaign, but active campaigning by the government should have been left off the table. MLA’s should of course be free to advocate for a yes vote as individuals, just as many federal Liberal MP’s have started doing.

Let’s also not forget that the ALP had the opportunity to legislate for SSM prior to losing the 2013 election, but took the easy road in putting it off until after an election they knew they were almost sure to lose. I also remember Gillard addressing a question on the matter in a 2010 campaign debate and she made it clear nothing was going to change. The social conservatism that is deeply entrenched in parts of both major parties has brought us to this point where Australia must be the last, or close to, western liberal democracy still holding out on this issue. Please don’t hold your party out as entirely clean on this matter.

Mark Parton MLA 2:49 pm 24 Aug 17

Chris Steel MLA said :

I do genuinely appreciate your support for marriage equality Mr Parton. However, saying that you are sick to death of talking about this issue is highly patronising and dismissive of the importance of this issue for the thousands of LGBTIQ Canberrans that have been waiting years and decades to enjoy same right afforded to every other Australian. And they will fight their rights regardless of whether someone that can get married is sick of the issue – and the Government will back them.

The Federal Parliament should have done its job and legislated for marriage equality weeks and year ago – then we wouldn’t be talking about the issue at all – but that is on your Party.

I disagree with you placing of blame on the ACT Government for providing support to the LGBTIQ community during this divisive survey. The money that the ACT Government is spending is largely going towards counselling to support the LGBTIQ community. It is a drop in the water compared to the Liberal’s $122 million wasteful postal survey. And no additional money would have had not have to be spent but for your colleagues in the Federal Parliament unleashing a wave of hate on young Canberrans.

People do indeed have a right to vote however they wish in this survey but Canberrans overwhelmingly support marriage equality are in favour of marriage equality. I think it is a thoroughly good thing that our Government is representing the community on this issue, supported by the Assembly last week.

So let me get this straight Chris, my yes vote is somehow worth less because I’m not as passionate about the cause as you are ?

Give me a break !

The motion specifically called upon the government to actively campaign for the yes vote. That’s not the business of government.

Chris Steel MLA 12:26 pm 24 Aug 17

I do genuinely appreciate your support for marriage equality Mr Parton. However, saying that you are sick to death of talking about this issue is highly patronising and dismissive of the importance of this issue for the thousands of LGBTIQ Canberrans that have been waiting years and decades to enjoy same right afforded to every other Australian. And they will fight their rights regardless of whether someone that can get married is sick of the issue – and the Government will back them.

The Federal Parliament should have done its job and legislated for marriage equality weeks and year ago – then we wouldn’t be talking about the issue at all – but that is on your Party.

I disagree with you placing of blame on the ACT Government for providing support to the LGBTIQ community during this divisive survey. The money that the ACT Government is spending is largely going towards counselling to support the LGBTIQ community. It is a drop in the water compared to the Liberal’s $122 million wasteful postal survey. And no additional money would have had not have to be spent but for your colleagues in the Federal Parliament unleashing a wave of hate on young Canberrans.

People do indeed have a right to vote however they wish in this survey but Canberrans overwhelmingly support marriage equality are in favour of marriage equality. I think it is a thoroughly good thing that our Government is representing the community on this issue, supported by the Assembly last week.

Mark Parton MLA 12:23 pm 24 Aug 17

Matt Donnelly said :

Spot-on, Mark. Thanks for your speech in the Assembly on Thursday.

I read in the CT this morning that our Chief Minister has “offered to fill out a proxy vote for anyone who wants to authorise him to vote in the same-sex marriage survey on their behalf”, but that he’ll only assist with yes votes.

First he uses our money to push one side of a federal issue, and now he wants to fill in our ballots for a us? How can anyone be okay with this?

Yeah, I’m with you Matt. I was really surprised when the CM offered to help people with proxy votes…..but only if you’re voting yes. I’m happy to assist anyone with a proxy vote, irrespective of which way they want to vote.

dungfungus 11:53 am 24 Aug 17

Matt Donnelly said :

Spot-on, Mark. Thanks for your speech in the Assembly on Thursday.

I read in the CT this morning that our Chief Minister has “offered to fill out a proxy vote for anyone who wants to authorise him to vote in the same-sex marriage survey on their behalf”, but that he’ll only assist with yes votes.

First he uses our money to push one side of a federal issue, and now he wants to fill in our ballots for a us? How can anyone be okay with this?

Only people who voted for Labor knowing Barr would the CM can answer that question.

Matt Donnelly 11:11 am 24 Aug 17

Spot-on, Mark. Thanks for your speech in the Assembly on Thursday.

I read in the CT this morning that our Chief Minister has “offered to fill out a proxy vote for anyone who wants to authorise him to vote in the same-sex marriage survey on their behalf”, but that he’ll only assist with yes votes.

First he uses our money to push one side of a federal issue, and now he wants to fill in our ballots for a us? How can anyone be okay with this?

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