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Showing posts from December, 2011

Whose Conscience?

The ALP national conference a few weeks ago was dominated, for better or worse, by a single issue – same-sex marriage.  It is a deeply divisive one, but amidst the protests from churches and lobby groups on both sides of the debate, the ALP platform was altered to support gay marriage.
Perhaps more important for the immediate political climate was Julia Gillard’s accompanying motion, that the result of this platform change should not be enforced on any Labor MPs – instead they will have the liberty of a conscience vote.  That has all sorts of strategic implications for actually passing a law, but in the focus on those the justification for a conscience vote – any conscience vote – has been overlooked.
Then again, it might have been overlooked because it is startling insubstantial.  The only one, essentially, is that MPs have widely varying and strongly-held views on the matter and it would be unreasonable to force them to vote against said views.  It’s flimsy.  Politicians generally …