A Perfect Political “Sh*tstorm” delivers our First Female Prime Minister

Just a few days after he launched the new book “Shitstorm” (an account of the first years of Kevin Rudd’s Government and how the faced the numerous crises that arose – especially the global economic crisis), a real “shitstorm” struck the Prime Minister’s office. While only yesterday morning, The Australian was reporting that the rumours of leadership changes at the top of the Labor Party were now in the past, this morning Kevin Rudd is history and his deputy – Julia Gillard – will be sworn in as the 27th Prime Minister of Australia and our first female prime minister.

There was, of course, one reason and one reason only for this sudden (and historic – no Australian prime minister has ever before been dumped by his party DURING HIS FIRST TERM) choice of the governing Labor Party: the ALP MP’s realised that with Kevin at the helm they were very, VERY likely to lose the next election (that in itself would have been a point in history – it has been more than seventy years since Australians have failed to re-elect a government for a second term). In other words, they did this to save their own skins. It looks very bad, and is definitely risky (Bob Hawke replaced Bill Hayden as leader of the ALP just before going into an election back in 1983, but they were in opposition then, not government), but it was a lot more palatible than being returned to opposition after a single term in office.

The choice in the upcoming election is now more clear cut than ever. We have two genuine and accessible “Ozzies” leading the major parties – both in their ways more like Bob Hawke or John Howard than Paul Keating or Alexander Downer – but who are (for once) ideologically clearly defined individuals who truly represent the beliefs and traditions of their parties. I’m looking forward to the election campaign: Bring it on!

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104 responses to “A Perfect Political “Sh*tstorm” delivers our First Female Prime Minister

  1. Gareth

    Australia gets its first Communist Prime Minister.

    • Tony

      You’re on a real roll, Gareth.

      What about John Watson, Andrew Fisher, James Scullin, Francis Forde, Joseph Chifley, Gough Whitlam, Robert J. Hawke, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd? All card-carrying Commos too?

      Mind you … she has got red hair.

      • Gareth

        I knew you would run to the rescue of your fellow Comrade Tony.

        That red hair is probably dyed at the salon every six weeks.

        Wont be long before we have free milk again with the Darling of the loony left of the Labor party running the country.

        • Tony

          I knew you would run to the rescue of your fellow Comrade Tony.

          I’m a Commo too? Sheesh, they’re everywhere!

          That red hair is probably dyed at the salon every six weeks.

          Well, there goes that theory. No self-respecting female comrade would go in for any bourgeois notions like ‘salons’.

          Wont be long before we have free milk again with the Darling of the loony left of the Labor party running the country.

          Two points:

          1. The free milk scheme was introduced into Australia by that other ‘darling’ of the left, Robert Menzies.

          2. Julia’s support for this coup came from the right of the Labor Party, a group that a person claiming to be ‘centre-right’ would be pretty comfortable with. The only friends Rudd had in the end were from the left, looney or otherwise.

          Like I said Gareth, you’re on a roll.

          • Gareth

            Gillard (besides her opposition to Work Choice,) stands for everything that any logical Catholic or suburbian Australian mother would ditest – sounds like your type of woman Tony.

          • The free milk was one of my fondest memories of early primary school – to this day, I love the taste of a glass of cold full cream milk! I didn’t know this was a Menzies idea. Just goes to show you: if I didn’t imbibe my fondness for the Liberal Party with my mother’s milk, it was with the next best thing!

            • Tony

              (It is amazing how tangential these discussions can get — like life, really.)

              I’m not sure if I have this right, David, but were you bought up in Adelaide?

              I ask this because my experience of the free milk was quite the opposite.

              The milk was delivered and dropped outside in open crates early in the morning.

              The ‘milk monitor’ would collect their classrooms allocation about mid morning.

              More often than not, when days were not so cold , the milk had time to warm up. In Summer, especially if the crates were dropped off on the eastern side of a building or in the open, the milk would just about turn into warm yoghurt (or riccota cheese?).

              I think it explains why even the thought of milk turns my stomach these days. I look at people drinking those cartons of iced coffee — mostly young men it seems — and think ‘what will that be like near the bottom when the milk is not so cold’.

              I’m not sure I can draw any conclusions about my political leanings from these memories.

              Maybe us ‘Commos’ are all lactose intolerant?

              I wonder if Julia the Ever-red is into soy lattes?

        • Peter Golding

          Why go to a salon?
          Her other half is a hairdresser.Surely he could do the job.

          • Tony

            My point remains Peter, everyone knows that hairdressers are petit-bourgeois!

            N’est-ce pas?

          • Peregrinus

            By an amazing coincidence, a [i]vox pop[/i] taken on the streets of her electorate and broadcast on the ABC last night included a contribution from a woman who worked in a hair salon and who said she had done Julia Gillard’s hair.

            So, no, she doesn’t have it done at home.

  2. Peregrinus

    You surprise me. Maybe it’s because I come late to the observation of Australian politics, but I have always seen the Liberal Party as expressing an essentially Thatcherite secular materialism. Not that there have been no other influences, present, of course, but this has always seemed to me to be the foundation.

    But, whatever we may think of Tony Abbott, we can’t think [i]that[/i] of him.

    I see Abbott as quite a radical choice for the Liberal Party, therefore, and your view that he “truly represents the beliefs and traditions” of his party surprises me.

    Maybe, though, my problem is that I have assumed that Howard, and the Howard Liberal Party, are normative, whereas the truth is that it was Howard who was the radical departure (into Thatcherite secular materialism), and Abbott represents a return to an older and more authentic Liberal tradition. Is that the way you see it?

    • Sir Robert Menzies, the founder of the Liberal Party and its longest serving Prime Minister, will always provide the benchmark for the Liberal Party “beliefs and traditions”. In their own but distinct ways, Malcom Fraser and John Howard (the only two Liberal Prime Ministers of whom I have personal experience) embodied aspects of the Menzies’ outlook. Tony Abbott again is “true” to this tradition, while yet taking it in his own direction. None of these can be equated with “an essentially Thatcherite secular materialism”.

      • Tony

        As alluded to in other posts, the Liberals are roughly divided between the ‘wets’ and the ‘drys’.

        The former are what you might call ‘compassionate conservatives’ or ‘small-l liberals’ or what conservative Americans call ‘liberals’. Recently this view is perhaps embodied in Petro Georgiou, but also Nelson and Turbull were relative ‘wets’ as far as leaders go.

        The latter ‘drys’ can more comfortably occupy the ‘Thatcherite secular materialism’ camp. Their back room boy was, until recently, Nick Minchin.

        I actually think Howard was the ‘dryest’ leader the party has ever had and Fraser was very dry in his early years, albeit with a few exceptions. He’s become ‘wetter’ as he’s got older (a lesson for us all?).

        An analogy — a pretty dodgy one I admit — is that if the Labor Party proposed the equivalent of a free milk scheme now (a laptop for every child?) the Liberals would deride it in principle and practice.

        I think Abbott, as Howard’s protege, is as dry as a lime-burner’s boot (as my pappy-in-law used to say).

        Not that I’m biased. Soy latte anyone?

  3. Matthias

    I think Gillard is a Marxist but as for the other PM’s
    John Christian Watson and Andrew Fisher were prebyterians.Scullin and Forde catholics. Joseph Benedict Chifley Catholic (and brilliant Treasurer.)
    Whitlam-yes ,perhaps more a megalomaniac
    Hawke-randy socialist
    Keating- secular humanist despite his Catholic credentials
    I think Tony Abbott is probably where Phillip Lynch sat in the Liberal party,-the older more Menzian tradition of Liberals. But i wonder if the elite in the establishment of the Liberals would put up with a Catholic leading them. lynch missed out because of that,i can tell you ,as my father in law was a member of the Libs and knew quite a few MPs’ at the time of the Fraser years

  4. The surprising thing was really that though the polls were bad, they weren’t yet at an unwinnable position – in fact they were no worse than Howard’s at the same point of the political cycle. One can only assume the more subjective testing found a real personal hatred of Rudd emerging in the electorate. And that he was brought down by his own highhandedness and paranoia.

    But really, Gillard is no communist – just slightly more to the left than Rudd’s middle of the road conservatism. And Abbott will face a similar dumping to Rudd if he loses this election (which is now looking a lot more likely!) given that he is totally unrepresentative of his party – hence the reason Malcolm decided to stay on… .

  5. Peter

    Julia Gillard is a founding member of EMILY’s list. Members of this group are comitted to promoting the principles,

    Pro-Choice
    Pro-Equity
    Pro-Childcare
    Pro-Equal Pay and
    Pro-Diversity

    http://www.emilyslist.org.au/about_us/about_us.asp?id=21

    I include the full list of ‘pros’ but my concern is with the euphamisms “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Diversity.” The group and its members have been abundantly clear on what these euphamisms mean in practice.

    • Gareth

      Wasn’t she once Secretary of a Communist front group the Socialist Forum?

      Didn’t she once have a ‘relationship’ with Craig Emmerson?

      Not really the credentials one would expect of a leader

      • Clara

        No, Julia was never a communist – as a student she was part of the socialist left of the Labor Party, but that was a long time ago. At the 1984 National Conference of the Australian Union of Students her faction did a deal with the Communists, but they reneged. She and I had served on the National Executive the previous year. Her last words to me at about 4.00am on the last day/night of Council were: “Clara, you can’t trust communists.” Perhaps she has learnt that lesson.

        Yes she was in a ‘relationship’ with Emerson – he was married with 3 kids at the time. It amused me that the media never caught on – or chose to ignore it.

    • Thanks, Peter. Perhaps this is where “sentire cum ecclesia” comes into the equation?

  6. Louise

    Couldn’t give a damn about Rudd or Gillard and the day-to-day argy bargy of politics, but this is a bad day for women in Australia, not a good one: for all the reasons Peter stated above.

    Very, very grim.

    She may or may not be a commie – who cares? But she stands for almost everything I hate.

    I will, however, miss all our Kevin-dash-seven references!

    • Gareth

      Yes I am beginning to wonder if any normal women stand for politics anymore?

      Are there any woman in political power that are actually not pro-abortion, anti-motherhood etc etc?

      They all seem the same to me.

      • Peter

        According to EMILYs list website, 113 of the 150 something female Labor members of parliament are members of ‘the list’. More alarming is that a much higher proportion of the newly elected female candidates each year are members.

        I looked for mention of Liberals, as we all know there are plenty of Pro-Abortion Liberals too, but it seems that EMILYs List is from and for the Australian Labor Party. Makes sense, since you’d expect to see all the Greens in it too otherwise.

        • Louise

          According to EMILYs list website, 113 of the 150 something female Labor members of parliament are members of ‘the list’. More alarming is that a much higher proportion of the newly elected female candidates each year are members.

          Exactly

    • Alexander

      Louise, one last one for old time’s sake:

      Keven no eleven.

  7. Louise

    And in any case, the reality is that we will either be governed by this set of lizards or the other set of lizards. It’s hardly inspiring.

    The electorate voted for a Knight in Shining Armour in ’07 and whaddya know – all they got was… a lizard.

    • Peter Golding

      He now looks like the black knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail.
      He is not however,in a position to say that it is only a flesh wound.

  8. Paul G

    OK,OK you have all made it clear you hate our current leaders, so where are the alternatives? The DLP still exists, but it usually gets fewer votes than the Sex Party. If there are so few admirable Christian pollies (male or female) does that prove Christians are lazy, incompetent, or have we just lost the public debate?

    • Tony

      ‘Christians’ Paul?

      Christians are not some homogeneous group in terms of political outlook.

      Rudd is a Christian, Abbott is a Christian, Fielding is a Christian, Kevin Andrews is a Christian …

      Do you mean ‘Christians’ or ‘Christians who think like me/us’?

      • Our Kevin made a valiant attempt to thank God (He? She?) in his farewell speech. That was touching, and, I think, quite genuine, despite the gender fumble.

        Tony is – unfortunately – right on this, Paul. We can’t even get Catholics to agree on political issues (as you pointed out in the previous post, it hasn’t usually got anything to do with “thinking with the Church”), so how can we possibly expect to get some kind of “Christian Party”?

        • Tony

          My only quibble with your observation, David, is the ‘unfortunately’ bit.

          It seems to me that history shows us that the more uniform Christians get in terms of their politics, the more likely we end up with dictatorships nurtured, overtly or covertly, by bishops and priests.

          So vive la différence!

          • Louise

            Don’t be absurd.

            I will agree with you, however, that Christians can and do vary in their politics. Of course there is ample room for any amount of legitimate disagreement. Even if we all agreed on the same basic principles (e.g. the right to live) there could be legitimate differences in policies. There is nothing inherently wrong with this.

            What Paul is really talking about are Christians who betray the natural law eg are pro-choice. This is not surprising since the great heresy of secularism (really an all out attack on Christ and His Church and all of its teachings and hence an attack on the natural law) is osmething which all of us are individually and collectively battling with, in the spiritual realm. Hence you can get people who are genuine believers in God, but who are quite simply wrong in their politics/world view.

            • Tony

              Don’t be absurd.

              I think that’s Gareth’s department!
              ;-)

              I will agree with you, however …

              First a female PM and now L and I finding some agreement.

              You’re not, by chance, a redhead?

    • Peregrinus

      A couple of points:

      First, this may seem blindingly obvious, but it’s worth saying. It makes no sense at all to criticise a politician who is not a Catholic for not being Catholic. You could criticise Abbott for failing to express his Catholicism properly in his public life (I’m not saying the criticism would be justified, but at least the accusation would make some kind of sense, and could be discussed meaningfully) but there is absolutely no reason why Gillard should be expected to reflect Catholic teaching, or criticised for not reflecting it.

      Thus to say that Gillard’s policy on X is inconsistent with Catholic thinking is unremarkable. And it is much less of a criticism or an attack that it would be to say that Abbott’s position on Y is inconsistent with Catholic thinking, because that statement accuses Abbott of inconsistency, hypocrisy or infidelity.

      Secondly, in a country where Christians are a minority, and Catholics are a minority of that minority, to urge that Catholics should only vote for politicians whose public positions coincide with Catholic teaching is to urge Catholics to embrace political irrelevance. The same result can be achieved by not voting and, while this might cost $50, it would at least be a visible and meaningful protest against the failure of the political system to offer the kind of politics you want.

      I think we need to think about how Catholics should engage in democratic politics in a society where they are a minority. I don’t think “Party X is led by a Catholic and Party Y is not, so vote for Party X” is either justifiable or effective. (And, to be clear, I don’t see anyone in this thread advocating such a stance.)

      Catholic teaching is that the proper goal of civil power is to secure the common good. In a democracy we all share in civil power and we all, I suggest, have a responsibility to use our (modest) share in power to advance the common good. Whether a particular prime minister will advance the common good does not depend to any extent on whether he is a Catholic; it depend on his policies and his policy priorities and on his political skill in implementing them. (The last point is important; I think if we learn anything from the example of Mr Rudd it is that there can be a wide gap between announcing a policy priority and having the ability to do anything effective about it.)

      This calls for a prudential judgment about the policies offered by a party, and the priorities and capacities of the party leaders. There are lots of policies and policy issues, but we only have one vote (well, two, one for the House and one for the Senate, but you know what I mean) so we have to consider policies as a package, considering them all and assigning whatever weight we think proper to each in arriving at our overall decision.

      There are some policy issues on which there a distinctive Catholic position and voice, abortion being an obvious example. On other areas the Catholic position may be just as strong, without being as distinctive. For example, the Catholic ethical tradition has a great deal to say about going to war, and about how war is waged, and in fact this tradition rests on the same principles that underlie thinking on abortion, and therefore has the same ethical force. But much of our thinking on war would be shared by other Christian (and to some extent non-Christian) ethical traditions. It is therefore not as distinctively Catholic. It is still, nevertheless, authentically Catholic, and no less important than Catholic teaching on abortion. A Catholic considering how to vote will need to address policy issues on which there is no distinctive Catholic position just as much as those on which there is.

      I pick war and abortion as useful examples to make my point, which is not about either war or abortion but about the fact that being authentically Catholic is not the same thing as being distinctively Catholic.

      To the extent that politics is actually about getting things done, there may be a case for attaching particular weight to those areas where the Catholic position is [i]not[/i] distinctive, since there is a better chance there of securing the support or assent of others, and therefore building the kind of consensus that is needed to achieve anything. That’s a prudential judgment, obviously; it won’t always be so. But I do think there will vary rarely be political mileage in calling attention to the fact that a particular stance is distinctively Catholic; to do so, in the Australian context, tends to marginalise that stance.

      • Catholic teaching is that the proper goal of civil power is to secure the common good. In a democracy we all share in civil power and we all, I suggest, have a responsibility to use our (modest) share in power to advance the common good.

        Since this blog is called “Sentire Cum Ecclesia”, I want to thank you, Perry, for actually pointing out the point at which Catholic faith and democratic politics coincide. As I said in a comment on the last blog, I may tend to vote conservative, but the fact is I will support any government who actually governs well – or as you put it, wh is able “to secure the common good”.

        To some extent then, I don’t think we should be completely driven in our voting by the stated policies of any political candidate. As you point out, it is one thing for Our Kevin to have declared this or that policy – it is another thing to be able to deliver it. AND as Our Tony reminds us, you can’t necessarily believe everything that a politician promises either.

        Our votes also have a double effect: ie. the proximate effect of electing one’s local member, and the indirect effect of electing a government. Our local member may support liberal abortion/gung-ho warfare, but he/she may represent a prospective government that on the whole does not share these policy priorities and may in fact be the best choice as a government who will “secure the common good”. It is a tricky and complicated business, this democracy stuff…

        • Louise

          Yes, it is very tricky David – no doubt at all.

          Pere, presumably the main point for a Catholic voter in determining who to vote for is to see who mostly closely aligns with the Church’s teaching. IOW who is actually going to – as you rightly say – “promote the common good.”

          Whether or not she’s a Catholic, Gillard *cannot* do this because of her ideology.

          Other non-Catholics can b/c of their world-view which might correspond more nearly to the common good.

          • Peter

            It is not quite that simple. In Australia you can’t just vote for a minority party as a protest because our two-party-prefered system will chanel your vote to one or another of the major political candidates. Of course, a healthy minority vote for a minor candidate will make the majors sit up and take notice, but we must also consider the implications of our vote once the contest shakes down to two candidates.

            The senate is a more complicated ballgame. The system of proportional representation and proportional redistribution means there are a number of ways your vote can end up sitting with exactly the party you did NOT want to support, even though you ticked what you thought was the opposite. I suspect that our ‘bedsheet’ ballot papers are created deliberately to create the illusion of free choice while making it nearly impossible to make an informed decision about where you vote ends up, encouraging you to trust one of the parties to allocate your preferences for you, which gives them far more bargaining power.

            In studying the full preferences allocation sheet for the senate in every election for the last 20 years, I am yet to find a party that allocated without some dodgy deal potentially favouring a nasty piece of work. For example, the Family First party had a cross preference deal with the Australian Democrats two elections ago. A party that stands for almost the exact opposite of every single part of their respective policies!

            I don’t think voting on a single issue simplifies the situation either, although some issues weigh heavier than others.

            I say again, if we continue to let them treat us like idiots then they will continue to get away with it.

            • Louise

              I say again, if we continue to let them treat us like idiots then they will continue to get away with it.

              So what *exactly* does one do to make them stop treating us like idiots? I mean, it’s obviously not that simple.

          • Peregrinus

            Hi Louise

            Pere, presumably the main point for a Catholic voter in determining who to vote for is to see who mostly closely aligns with the Church’s teaching. IOW who is actually going to – as you rightly say – “promote the common good.”

            No.

            Or, to put it another way, the two statements which you so casually link with “IOW” (“in other words”) are, I think, not the same at all.

            At one level, the statement that the party which “most closely aligns with the church’s teaching” is the one which will promote the common good is true. But only trivially so – the church’s teaching is that secular rulers should promote the common good; consequently a party which promotes the common good is, by that fact, aligned with the church’s teaching.

            But this, of course, says nothing about how exactly a party should promote the common good, and I think what your “IOW” is intended to suggest is that the party to go for is the one whose policies, in as many policy areas as possible, align with the church’s moral teaching in that area. On this view:
            - since the church teaches the sanctity of innocent life, the law should forbid abortion and stem cell research
            - since the church teaches the fundamentally heterosexual nature of marriage, the law should forbid same-sex marriage
            - etc
            and this will serve the common good.

            While superficially attractive, this approach doesn’t have to be extended too far before it fairly obviously breaks down
            - since the church teaches the permanence of marriage, the law should forbid divorce
            - since the church teaches the inherently procreative nature of sexual intercourse, the law should forbid contraception, all active expressions of same-sex attraction, and masturbation
            - since the church teaches the sanctity of marriage, the law should forbid prostitution, adultery and pre-marital sex.
            - since the church teaching the intrinsic wrongness of lying, the law should forbid all forms of lying
            - since the church teaches that we should welcome the stranger, the law should forbid any restriction on free immigration
            - etc

            I choose this list deliberately because, while you can certainly make the case that some of these things should indeed be forbidden or at least restricted by law, it’s clear that you cannot simply lump them all together as immoral, and therefore rightly illegal. The connection between what is immoral and how the civil power should respond to that immorality is plainly a much more nuanced one than that.

            And, in fact, the church has never taught that it is the duty of the civil ruler to reflect Catholic/Christian moral teaching in his laws. There is some support for this in the Protestant tradition (and therefore in the Anglo-American cultural tradition) but little or none, I think, in the Catholic tradition.

            One of the earliest go-to guys on this topic is St Isidore of Seville. One of the last of the Church Fathers, he was active in the 7th century in what is now Spain, at a time when (Byzantine) imperial authority was collapsing and the local Visigothic kings who where coming to power had only recently embraced Catholicism (from Arianism), and many of the people were neither Catholics nor Arians, but followed mostly Celtic/Gaulish pagan religions. The shape the new Visigothic kingdom was to take, and its relationship to Christianity, was very much in flux, and he sought to influence it.

            It’s to him, I think, that we owe the first articulation of the concept of the common good. Isidore distinguished between divine law, rooted in nature, and human law, a human construct developed because it was needed. He considered that the function of human law was to benefit the community (communis utilitatis) and emphasised that “human laws may differ, because different laws suit different peoples”. A “good” human law – one which has a moral claim on us – should be decent, just, enforceable, in keeping with the custom of the country, appropriate to the place and time, needful, useful, clear and (of course) for the common good (as opposed to sectional or private profit).

            That’s quite a shopping list, and in practice we often have to compromise some of these objectives. To choose an uncontroversial example, there can often be a tension between a law being just and clear at the same time. We have to manage these tensions as best we can, and this is not always easy and requires careful prudential judgment. Isidore didn’t say that unless a particular law could tick every box on that list it was a bad law with no moral claim; rather, these were the criterial by reference to which human laws had to be judged and decisions about human laws had to be made.

            You’ll note that there’s nothing explicit in here about conformity to Catholic moral teaching, although I think the concepts of “decent” and “just” do import that to some extent. But to conform with church teaching –at least, as Isidore represents it – you couldn’t [i]just[/i] consider conformity with Catholic moral principles, but also enforceability, consistency with local custom, appropriateness to time and place, etc.

            Isidore isn’t the last word in Catholic teaching on this subject – he’s closer to the first, actually – but I suggest he is of particular interest to us for one reason. Much of the later Christian writing on this topic comes from people who lived in “Christendom” – in societies, and states, which were (or at least aspired to be) explicitly Christian and Catholic. Isidore didn’t, and neither do we. And with his references to the common good, enforceability, the customs of the country, the time and place, etc, Isidore was insisting that the views, attitudes and beliefs of non-Christian rulers and non-Christian subjects were – in Christian moral teaching – proper considerations which should bear on and be reflected in human laws.

            Consequently I don’t think it is correct to equate “common good” and “alignment with church teaching” as you do.

            • Louise

              I think what your “IOW” is intended to suggest is that the party to go for is the one whose policies, in as many policy areas as possible, align with the church’s moral teaching in that area.

              Oh look, I completely agree with your list, Pere, and take your point. That wasn’t what I meant exactly – you are right. I’ll have more of a think about it and see if I can be more precise.

            • Louise

              OK – just a quick thought. It has never been the practice of the Church to insist that every sin be illegal. There is, as you noted, a hierarchy of moral teachings which ought to be supported in law.

              What I should have said was something like:

              presumably the main point for a Catholic voter in determining who to vote for is to see who mostly closely aligns with the Church’s teaching regarding the common good

              I realise that there is indeed some lee-way with some of the issues you listed. E.g. adultery is not currently illegal, but it has been at some points in history.

              Personally, I’d like to see people copping fines for adultery.

              • Peregrinus

                Hi Louise

                OK – just a quick thought. It has never been the practice of the Church to insist that every sin be illegal. There is, as you noted, a hierarchy of moral teachings which ought to be supported in law.

                What I should have said was something like:

                presumably the main point for a Catholic voter in determining who to vote for is to see who mostly closely aligns with the Church’s teaching regarding the common good

                I realise that there is indeed some lee-way with some of the issues you listed. E.g. adultery is not currently illegal, but it has been at some points in history.

                Still not there, I think. The Catholic church doesn’t have a lot of teaching – that is to say, authoritative teaching from the hierarchy – on what is conducive to the common good. The church teaches that the civil power should be exercised for the common good, but as to what will actually tend to serve the common good, that discernment belongs to the vocation of the politician and the voter, not the vocation of the bishop. So you wouldn’t expect a great deal of formal authoritative teaching. That lying is intrinsically wrong, yes, but as to how and in what circumstances lying should be regulated or restricted by law, no.

                Nor is there a “hierarchy of moral teachings which ought to be supported in law”, if by that you mean there are big moral issues which of their nature demand to be reflected in law, and not so big ones which don’t. It’s a much more nuanced situation than that. Adultery is gravely morally wrong, for instance, but I don’t share your view that it should be criminalized. But my holding that view doesn’t mean that I am doubting in any way that it is gravely morally wrong, and it certainly doesn’t put me at odds with Catholic teaching either on the morality of adultery, or on the proper role and function of the civil power. By contrast, less serious moral infringements, – petty shoplifting, say, or selling margarine as butter – are criminalized, and rightly so.

                And I think for the voter there is another dimension to be considered. If a politician makes (sincere) pro-life noises, but my judgment is that for one reason or another he is unlikely to do anything effective to restrict abortion by law, should I prefer him to the politician who is openly pro-choice, but whose social policies I judge to be more likely to reduce recourse to abortion? This is not an entirely hypothetical question; it’s been noted for some time that in the US abortion rates have tended to rise under explicitly pro-life Republican Presidents, and to fall under explicitly pro-choice Democratic Presidents.

                It seems to me that the choice we make here depends on the relative value we attach to witness, the extent to which we hope or expect to change people’s attitudes in the long term by having politicians who at least [i]say[/i] the right thing, the importance of taking the steps most likely in practice to reduce abortions, and no doubt a number of other issues. These are complex issues, and it seems to me that sincere pro-life voters can reasonably differ in their assessments. The point, for the purposes of this discussion, is that in voting for a politician I am not simply considering the laws that he will enact, but also the policies that he will implement, and the values he will express, and I am also considering not only his intentions and beliefs, but the likely effects and side-effects of his actions.

                On an issue like same-sex marriage, there is a considerable weight of bishops urging opposition, and relatively few (if any) urging acceptance. They mostly do so, though, by urging that same-sex marriage will have adverse consequences for society, not by asserting that it is morally wrong. They are right to argue on this basis, for the practical reason that arguing that Catholic moral views should be enforced as such by law is certainly counterproductive in a modern democracy, but also for the principled reason that the proper role of law is not the expression or enforcement of Catholic moral views, but the advancement of the common good.

                However a bishop is no better positioned to discern the common good than a politician, or a voter and, as already pointed out, it is not part of his vocation to do so. I might be persuaded by the moral or logical force of Bishop So-and-so’s views, but on a question such as this I don’t think the fact that he has “bishop” in front of his name gives his views any additional weight.

                Being a voter carries responsibilities as well as rights, and I don’t think we can escape the responsibility of making our own decisions as to how our votes will best serve the common good. The church, I think, can authoritatively tell us that that is the basis on which we should vote, but after that the decision, and the responsibility, is ours.

                For that reason, not only do I never expect to see Catholics voting [i]en bloc[/i] as David suggests, but I would regard it as a deplorable development if it did occur. It would strongly suggest that Catholic voters were abdicating their moral responsibility.

                • Peter

                  “For that reason, not only do I never expect to see Catholics voting [i]en bloc[/i] as David suggests, but I would regard it as a deplorable development if it did occur. It would strongly suggest that Catholic voters were abdicating their moral responsibility.”

                  I agree with you wholeheartedly. ANY being coorced to vote the same way is dangerous (cf. unions etc). Nevertheless, what Catholics SHOULD be doing is making it abundantly clear which issues need to be addressed to impress voters with a Catholic conscience.

                  The ideal would be that all parties are forced to make their position clear on matters of concern to Catholics precisely because Catholics will THINK about their vote and vote according to their conscience rather than ignore their faith and vote according to mass media, unions, family allegience or other factors.

                  • Peregrinus

                    . . . .Nevertheless, what Catholics SHOULD be doing is making it abundantly clear which issues need to be addressed to impress voters with a Catholic conscience.

                    The ideal would be that all parties are forced to make their position clear on matters of concern to Catholics . . .

                    But this goes back to the point I made earlier. Too often, “matters of concern Catholics” will be understood – and perhaps intended – as a reference to issues on which there is perceived to be a distinctively Catholic perspective – abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, what have you. But other issues may be just as much of interest to Catholics, may raise equally pressing moral issues, may bear just as heavily on the common good. In fact, any policy question which bears on the common good must weigh with the Catholic voter who takes seriously magisterial teaching on political power and how it is to be employed.

                    I take your point, though, that we should demand that our political parties tell us more about policies, values and ideologies and less about personalities.

                    • Tony

                      … and it’s not just about parties ‘making it clear’ either, it’s about how the policies stack up in reality.

                      In the US, for example, there has been a consistent trend for abortion numbers to go down during Democrat Administrations and up during GOP Administrations.

                      I can’t find the reference, but it does illustrate the point that you could make a legitimate argument for voting for the Dems even though they have a more pro-choice platform than the Republicans.

    • Louise

      Who to vote for? Dunno. Was going to vote DLP (and even join the party) but that looks like it’s about to explode into a million pieces with its very own sh*tstorm, so I’m now pretty fed up with party politics. (Not that I’ve ever liked it). I vote for the most pro-life candidate I can find – any party.

      • Peregrinus

        Peregrinus’ Third Law of Politics: The smaller and more irrelevant the party, the more intense the internal backbiting, backstabbing and machiavellian plotting.

        • Louise

          Sounds plausable enough. I wish The Greens would self-destruct.

          • Peregrinus

            If you can reduce them to the size of the DLP, they will!

            • Louise

              If only I could get the Zeitgeist to choke…

              • Gareth

                According to Tony’s logic, one could put a case forward for voting for Hitler just because the abortion rate may appear to be not very high in Nazi Germany???

                • Tony

                  Time to invoke Godwin’s Law, David?

                  • Gareth

                    Or is Godwin’s law an attempt to not answer the valid proposed question?

                    • Tony

                      Let’s just say, Gareth, that I think Godwin and his law is a whole lot more ‘valid’ than your characterisation of ‘Tony’s logic’.

                      Or, to put it another way, I’m concerned that this exchange is rapidly going beyond the point of ‘… sitting at my table after dinner while the port bottle is being passed around’. AKA ‘The Schütz Convention’.

                    • Peregrinus

                      See, this is what happens if you pass too much port around.

                • Peregrinus

                  One could, though one would have to argue that the abortion rate would have been higher under any of the alternative candidates in the election.

                  And the value of the case would be that it would illustrate the silliness – no, the immorality – of making a voting decision based on one issue alone, disregarding all others.

                  • Gareth

                    I think it is missing the point to state that those that are so passionately opposed to abortion who can not in their conscious vote for a candidate who knowingly supports policies aimed at the destruction of the unborn are making a voting decision on one issue alone.

                    I rather see it is that they have weighed up all policies and this issue means so much to them that more than any other social or economic policy that they are willing to consider as their top priority to direct their preference for a candidate who is willing to support a pro-life and pro-family cause.

                    The issue is just how could any good Catholic willingly not consider highly a candidates pro-life credentials before casting their vote?

                    • Gareth

                      Peregrinus: This is not an entirely hypothetical question; it’s been noted for some time that in the US abortion rates have tended to rise under explicitly pro-life Republican Presidents, and to fall under explicitly pro-choice Democratic Presidents.

                      Gareth: That is a bit rich don’t you think that a mere co-incidence that the abortion rate may rise or fall under when certain Presidents are in power (I highly guess your figures could be disputed if they broken down or were based on a regional basis e.g. I would estimate that abortion rates are much higher in American states where Democrats hold power as opposed to Repubican states where abortion rates appear much lower), then that Presidents policies are somehow responsible or magically linked?

                      I would think you would have prove just how precisely the policies of pro-abortion Presidents have explicitly lowered the abortion rate (I would argue against that they have) and likewise how do pro-life policies or other economic policies if pro-life Presidents raise the abortion rate.

                      In my opinion
                      a) the drop in abortion rates are minor anyway and we as a society should be asking why we have the need for them at all
                      b) the broad social and economic policies of pro-abortion Presidents can not be linked to a lower abortion rate at all
                      and
                      c) using national figures could always be cancelled out by breaking them down by region and then you one could make a similar arguement that abortion rates are lower in areas that are socially conservative such as the mid-west to begin with and just as a matter of fact would have conservative Governore.

                    • Peregrinus

                      Hi Gareth

                      I think it is missing the point to state that those that are so passionately opposed to abortion who can not in their conscious vote for a candidate who knowingly supports policies aimed at the destruction of the unborn are making a voting decision on one issue alone.

                      I didn’t state that.

                      I rather see it is that they have weighed up all policies and this issue means so much to them that more than any other social or economic policy that they are willing to consider as their top priority to direct their preference for a candidate who is willing to support a pro-life and pro-family cause.

                      And that’s fair enough. The point is that they do have a moral responsibility to factor in all those other issues, and take account of them in their decision. In the end of the day, you’ve only got one vote and you can only vote one way, so you inevitably have to prioritise some issues over others. The point is that you have to think about how to prioritise them. And this can be difficult, if one candidate will express opposition to abortion, while the other is pro-choice but will implement policies likely to reduce abortion. (And that’s even before we think about other policy areas of concern to Christians.)

                      That is a bit rich don’t you think that a mere co-incidence that the abortion rate may rise or fall under when certain Presidents are in power?

                      No, I doubt that it’s a coincidence. I don’t believe that many women choose to have abortions merely because they can, capriciously, or on a whimsy. We need to think about the cultural, social and economic pressures that lead women to make this choice. There is good evidence to suggest that these pressures include poverty, social exclusion, economic insecurity and lack of social support, and that abortion rates fall when governments adopt policies which help to address these issues. And not all pro-life candidate in the US, but a fair proportion of them, come from the political right and espouse social and economic policies which could increase these pressures.

                      (I highly guess your figures could be disputed if they broken down or were based on a regional basis e.g. I would estimate that abortion rates are much higher in American states where Democrats hold power as opposed to Republican states where abortion rates appear much lower)

                      When you say “I would estimate”, do you mean anything more than “I like to think that this is true”?

                      Whatever you mean, you estimate wrongly. “Red states”, in the US parlance (i.e. those which tend consistently to vote for conservative candidates) generally to have higher rates of abortion (and divorce, and teenage pregnancy, and births out of wedlock) than “blue states”, which vote for liberal (in the US sense) candidates. Specifically, of the ten states with the lowest abortion rates, nine are classic “blue” states (the noble exception being North Dakota). Of the ten states with the highest abortion rates, all, without exception are classic “red” states.

                      I would think you would have prove just how precisely the policies of pro-abortion Presidents have explicitly lowered the abortion rate (I would argue against that they have) and likewise how do pro-life policies or other economic policies if pro-life Presidents raise the abortion rate.

                      When I’m deciding how to vote, I don’t have to prove anything and, in fact, I doubt that I can. Equally, neither can you prove that voting for a pro-life candidate will reduce recourse to abortion, but nor do you have to.

                      We each have to make our own best judgment, from the evidence and from our own intuitions, experiences and observations, of what is most likely to be true.

                      It is undeniable that abortion rates in the US rise under “pro-life” presidencies, and fall under “pro-choice” ones. This is a trend which has continued for thirty years. We can only speculate about the reasons for this.

                      One possible explanation is that the President has bugger all to do with abortion law – he can be as pro-life as he likes, but this isn’t going to affect either the Supreme Court, whose decisions determine the extent to which the law can regulate abortion, or the various state governments whose laws actually do regulate abortion. Consequently his pro-life views cannot easily be translated into effective pro-life laws or policies. On the other hand, he has a good deal of influence over wider and economic and social policy, and he can therefore do a great deal to affect the factors which influence the choices women make. But he may not tailor his social and economic policies with the primary objective of reducing abortions. (I doubt that the real backers of the Republican party would be so willing to fund it as generously as they do if it did that.)

                      Another possible factor is that some at least of the pro-life politicians may be, shall we say, opportunistic in their espousal of a pro-life position, happy to say the right things in the hope of attracting support from people who feel strongly on this subject but less happy to say that they can’t do much about it and don’t intend to try, or to say that pro-life action is actually fairly low on their list of priorities, and won’t influence broad social and economic policies.

                      And no doubt other possible explanations could be produced, including that the whole thing is just an incredible coincidence, though frankly the pattern seems too consistent for that to me.

                      Of course, the fact that this happens in the US doesn’t mean that it would happen in Australia. (And the fact that our government is so coy about publishing abortion figures means that we find it very difficult to know whether it does happen in Australia.) So I think that, despite the depressing American experience, an Australian pro-lifer can justify voting for an explicitly pro-life candidate in the hope, if perhaps not the confidence, that this will translate into fewer abortions. Or alternatively he may think that electing an explicitly pro-life candidate is justified as a way of “bearing witness” even if it [i]doesn’t[/i] result in a reduction in abortions. He may even be prepared to risk an [i]increase[/i] in abortions in order to achieve the sign-value of electing a pro-life candidate. The point is that he has to at least think seriously and honestly about these issues; if he doesn’t, I think he is failing in his duty as a Christian voter to consider the common good.

                      But a different Australian pro-lifer, who thinks differently, can equally justify the view that voting for the explicitly pro-life candidate is not likely to yield the pro-life result he wants. Or he may think that neither the coalition nor the ALP is pro-life in any meaningful way. (This is my own view, FWIW.) He may feel that he can’t form a clear preference for one over the other on pro-life grounds, but that he can form such a preference on other grounds that concern him as a Christian. Again, he has to think about these issues, honestly and openly.

                      But there is no pre-ordained conclusion that a Catholic voter must come to.

  9. Matthias

    Let’s see Christians uhm er
    Fielding was prepared to stand up for the pensioners
    Kevin Andrews- strong on pro life issues,pity he cynically used strife in sudanese community to ban refugees from there,and was a pretty awful Minister for Aged care,

    • Peregrinus

      Nitpick:

      “. . . no Australian prime minister has ever before been dumped by his party DURING HIS FIRST TERM . . .”

      Not quite true, I think. Robert Menzies, no less, became PM for the first time in 1939 but lost the confidence of his own party and in August 1941 resigned both as Prime Minister (replaced by Arthur Fadden of the Country Party) and party leader (replaced by Billy Hughes). The Coalition government lurched on (under the leadership of Fadden, and with Menzies still in Cabinet) until October, when it lost a vote on the budget, and John Curtin formed a Labor government, which was thumpingly re-elected in 1943. All in all, not a happy period for the tory interest.

      I somehow doubt that Rudd will manage the kind of comeback that Menzies later managed. But, then, I confidently predicted only yesterday that he would remain in office and win the next election. I could be wrong again.

      • Matthias

        The reason why Menzies was dumped by the then UAP-Country party coalition,was because he really wanted to be a member of the imperial war cabinet and churchill promised by did not deliver. The coalition became troubled and Dr Earle Page- who’s nephew led a failed raid on singapore- was acting PM . I think Meznies returned but lost the confidence of the parliament due to the CP backing John Joseph Curtin,who I think was our greatest PM,given the fact that he ahd to bring in measures that he ,as a ALP activitist had opposed in WW1 such as:
        conscription. And he made a call to the USA which Churchill and Rooselveldt said wasa sign of panic-before Singapore fell due to poor British intelligence and Commanders

        • Peregrinus

          Menzies was dumped some months before Curtin (and Labor) were put into office, which did not, in any event, happen through the co-operation of the Country Party. I think he had been politically troubled for some time; he lacked credibility as a wartime PM because (a) he had rather conspicuously resigned his commission so as not to have to serve in the Great War, or at any rate it could easily be made to look like that, and (b) he had been a vocal supporter of Chamberlain’s appeasement line in the late ‘30s – a position which left him very exposed once Chamberlain lost office. Whether or not he was angling for an appointment to the Imperial war cabinet, the fact that he spent much of 1940/41 in London meant that he couldn’t be at home to shore up his crumbling support within the party (and probably that he was so out of touch that he didn’t appreciate the need to do this). Had his own party supported him, he could have survived the enmity of Page (which was long-standing).

          And it’s the very last point, in fact, where we may find some parallel with Rudd. Ultimately Rudd fell because he lost the support of his own party. While the opinion polls may have had much to do with this, today’s newspaper accounts suggest that his lack of a factional base, his exclusive reliance on a very small “inner cabinet” of four ministers and on his own team of young and rather arrogant staffers, and his often abrasive relationships with colleagues may all have contributed. Basically, they didn’t like him. Once he couldn’t deliver comforting polling figures, it seems they found no reason to keep him.

          (In this regard, I doubt that Abbott’s position is any safer. He probably has more friends than Rudd, but I suspect he has more enemies too. Given the razor-thin margin by which he was elected, and his ability to put his foot in his mouth when given the slightest opportunity, I think his continued leadership of his party crucially depends on securing gratifying polling numbers.)

          We think we’re voting for a Prime Minister, and the politicians and the campaigning and the personality-obsessed media conspire to encourage us in this delusion. But in fact the support any prime minister needs is not, in the end of the day, ours, but that of the parliamentary party. When a party goes to an election under any given leader there is no commitment, express or implied, that they will retain that leader – the Liberals have changed leaders three times since the last election, so the ALP looks positively restrained by comparison. Welching on a manifesto commitment is seen as dishonourable behaviour in a party; dumping a leader, not so.

          The lesson? Vote the party, not the leader.

          • The lesson? Vote the party, not the leader.

            Yep. That’s what I do.

            • Louise

              Yes. Well said.

            • Peregrinus

              But I think the corollary of that is that the Labor party (led by Gillard) is not that different, when it comes to voting intentions, from the Labor party (led by Rudd).

              Much the same goes for the Liberals (led by Abbott). A vote for them could very easily turn out to be vote for the Liberals (led by A. N. Other).

              Put not your faith in men! (Or in women!)

              • Louise

                “Put not your your faith in Princesses!”

                I do not really think the world will be much more different under Julia than under Kevin and my life has not changed at all since we “got our first female PM” (*yawn* zzzzzz…..)

                But I feel a bit (‘ow you say?) disappointed that our first female PM is pro-choice etc. I am (at this point) mostly emoting.

      • Thank you for this. I was expounding to my daughters the history of Robert Menzies comeback this evening, but was unaware that he was actually dumped by his party DURING his term (I had thought he simply lost the next election). That explains why the news on the telly tonight said that this is the first time a LABOR goverment has dumped on a first time prime minister. And I, for one, don’t think we will see Kevin in the front benches again. From the talk on the news tonight we might be lucky if we see him in Parliament again after the election. His local electorate doesn’t seem to impressed.

        • Tony

          Early days, David … in fact … early hours.

          The early signs are that he will stay on and he will offer himself as a minister.

          He didn’t have to front up to the house today and take a back seat and he didn’t have to announce that he’d re-nominate for his seat. These seem to be the actions that back up the words. So I think they reflect his intentions … at least for now.

          Of course none of the main players in this drama are immune from hypocrisy or a certain amount of dirty dealing. but I was particularly sickened by Abbott’s ‘that’s no way to treat a Prime Minister’ line in Question Time. His part in his own leader’s downfall was as active, if not more so, than Julia’s in Kevin’s. The man just doesn’t seem to know when to put a sock in it.

          • It may surprise some of you that I am quite a sensitive soul, and that I felt real sympathy and misericordia for Kevin as he sat in the back benches today. That did take a lot of courage.

            Ironic too, in the clips they showed of Julia Gillard’s inaugural speech upon her first entry into Parliament after the 1998 election. Who should be siting right behind her but the (also newly elected) Member for Griffith!

            • Tony

              … I felt real sympathy and misericordia for Kevin …

              I guess in, Liberal Party terms, that makes you a ‘Wet’, David?

              It’s been a long ‘drought’ for that faction in the party! Most recently, Abbott saw that lot off when he took the leadership.

              As I watched Kevin give his last speech to the ‘chooks’ (as Jo Bjelke called them) his son (Marcus, I think) was in the back of the frame.

              I was a little distracted wondering what was going through his mind, especially as his father ‘blubbered’. It’s a particularly tough thing for children (especially a son?) to see their father cry, I think.

              He, Marcus, seemed relatively impassive, although he did crack a smile at Kevin’s ‘that’s a zip’ comment to the end the session.

              It is so easy to de-personalise our leaders — church or state — but when you get close to them you realise that ‘If you prick us, do we not bleed?’

            • Louise

              I’m not surprised in the least, David, and I heard a snippet of Mr Rudd’s speech and would probably have cried myself if I’d heard the whole thing.

              • Gareth

                I didn’t agree with everything Rudd did but he wasn’t that bad – I could bear him as my PM

                It is a shame for the women of Australia that the first female PM is a radical feminist like Tony’s girlfriend that cares more about her hair than the poor battlers of Australia.

                • Tony

                  … that cares more about her hair than the poor battlers of Australia.

                  Actually her hair is something you bought up in this string, Gareth, so, true to form, speculation becomes fact.

                  • Gareth

                    Its fine to admit you have a crush on our radical feminist PM Tony – it would be better that you admit the truth.

                    We all have different tastes and it wouldn’t be embarrsment for aCatholics to admit that they secretly admire radical feminists cracking the whip.

  10. Matthias

    Sorry – Page was not Acting PM but was a Cabinet Minister who disliked Menzies. Just checked on Wikepdia.

  11. Paul G

    @Peregrinus : thanks for the background on Menzies during the war, I hadn’t heard that before.

    I see what you mean about issues that are not distinctively Catholic, but Abbott also has a point when he complains that people keep bringing up his Catholicism, but rarely refer to other politician’s beliefs. It seems that many people think there are, in fact many issues that are distinctively Catholic. Or are they just afraid of rule from Rome (as unlikely as that would be)?

    You mentioned the issue of abortion, what about same sex marriage? The Catholic view of this probably comes from thinking of marriage as a sacrament rather than a property contract. That would make the issue at least distinctively religious, assuming most religions have a similar idea of marriage.

    Anyway, a lot of interest in politics comes from the gossip around it. How about the fact that Bill Shorten was one of the “powerbrokers” who brought Rudd down, and then saw Julia Gillard sworn in by his possible future mother-in-law?

    • Matthias

      The other reason why Page disliked Menzies,was due to that that pere referred towas that in WW1 Menzies did not enlist. One source says that yes Menzies resigned his commission and that because he had two or three siblings already in the AIF ,he was excused. Thanks Pere for the corrections. my source- a relative and a founding member of the Liberal party- made the comment that Curtin was always in fear of the firebrand from East Sydney Eddy Ward and that menzies once warned Curtin about Evatt;s intentions- uhm wonder if Julia learnt ffrom THE DOC.

    • What’s that about Bill Shorten and the GG?

      • Paul G

        This is perhaps calumny (or is it detraction), but it was reported in the newspapers a few months ago that Bill Shorten left his wife and has been seeing the daughter of the GG.
        Another irrelevant fact: Bill Shorten went to Xavier, so I suppose he would be described as a Catholic politician.

      • Matthias

        Shorten ‘s Mother in law is the GG and Shorten i thought ahd “converted” to Anglicanism

    • And why hasn’t the phrase “monstrous regiment” been heard in this discussion yet? :-)

      • Tony

        And why hasn’t the phrase “monstrous regiment” been heard in this discussion yet?

        Do you mean the Monstrous Regiment of John Knox or Terry Pratchett or, crafty person that you are, both?

        But now a word from an old friend of this establishment:

        Gillard is one of us, not one of them. Progressive, left, unmarried, childless, a migrant from a disadvantaged background, government school educated, a westie, a ranga with a hairdresser boyfriend. Not your typical politician. Julia Gillard broke the one size fits all cookie cutter …

        I don’t think ‘ranga’ is a South Aussie expression (by way of a warning: please don’t look it up if you are of a sensitive disposition).

        • I meant Knox’s reference, of course, which was an attack on unusual number of female monarchs then in power in his day. But, as Perry points out below, I got the quotation wrong, with a “t” at the end of it, and I expect this was unconsciously due to the fact that Pratchett had, as you note, used that title for one of his books.

      • Peregrinus

        Because we are educated folk, and we know that the correct phrase is “monstrous regimen“.

        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/Firstblast.jpg

        (Plus, no true Catholic would quote Knox. You want to watch yourself, there, David. We wouldn’t want any accusations of backsliding.)

    • Louise

      The issue of traditional marriage v gaymarriage can be argued from reason. It is simply not necessary to have a sacramental view of marriage to defend it. It is probably seen as a Catholic issue b/c secularism is a heresy which is attacking the whole of the Faith.

  12. Peter

    A side thought, I wonder if the Greens are worried at present? They should be. The main reason for their present surge in the polls has been the Labor left registering their dissaproval with Rudd who failed to deliver on a number of Left projects and refused to budge on the definition of marriage.

    Watch the numbers slide back under the new leader of the Labor party.

    On the bright side, she won’t mind at all if the Greens get the balance of power in the Senate. They don’t oppose any of the things she openly says she stands for.

    • You are probably right, Peter. Any “sliding” in the polls will be between the ALP and the Greens, rather than between the ALP and the Liberals. I don’t think many who yesterday were determined to vote for Abbott will today have changed their intentions and now plan to vote for Gillard. That means (given that most Green preferences would have gone to the ALP in any case) not much change in the final outcome would an election be held tomorrow.

      • Alexander

        There’s the issue of Tanner of Melbourne. If Rudd had’ve remained in, there’s almost no doubt his successor would’ve been Green. Now that Gillard’s there, and especially saying so loudly she wants a carbon price (or was that just the media?), Labor might keep it. Melbourne was the only seat where the Green vote mattered in any case, as you otherwise observe.

      • Peter

        “According to the latest Newspoll survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian between Friday and Sunday, the first full three days of Ms Gillard’s leadership, Labor’s primary vote leapt seven percentage points from 35 per cent the weekend before Mr Rudd was removed to 42 per cent.

        The Coalition’s primary vote support was unchanged on 40 per cent but the Greens’ vote crashed back five points to 10 per cent.”

  13. Matthias

    my daughter-usually an intelligent girl,cause she is an Arts student perhaps,a ctually International studies- keeps banging on about Abbott’s Catholicism. She is well and truly indoctrinated ,will probably vote Green,despite my best intentions to point out that they want to have us all back in the caves -a comment that ALP senator Peter Walshe once made- under a collective system .
    As for the DLP it seems that John mulholland is having a bit of a battle with peter Kavanagh over who is the properly constituted DLP here in victoria.

    • Louise

      Yes – the DLP sh*tstorm. Grrrrrrrr.

    • Paul G

      Hi Matthias,
      really? There is a split in the Victorian DLP, is that called irony?
      Political parties often get very ugly, whether they are Labor, Liberal, or DLP. At least Senator Harradine seemed to keep his integrity and respect, but he was an independent. It is much harder to keep to your principles if you are in a party, whether you are Tony Abbott or Peter Garrett.

      • Matthias

        Peter G yes that ‘s true and probably why Senator Xenophon is an independent because he saw that one had to compromise if one joined a major Party.
        louise ,I am sure Right to Life will be putting out a list of preferred candidates who have aprolife stance.
        I remember when Garrett was standing for the Anti Nuclear party,the Canadian rcok singer Bruce Cockburn- who was also a Christian,and who was out here on tour- said that the concept of a pro life stance must include anti nucelar weapons and vice versa.
        Wonder where the Greens stuffed up?

  14. Louise

    The question of preferences in the senate is not much of an issue when you vote below the line. O typically vote for a pro-life candidate on the basis that on a particular issue they are more likely to cast a vote the way I want them too.