Not content with sniping Malcolm Turnbull from the sidelines, Tony Abbott is once again front and centre after claiming he was headbutted by a ‘Vote Yes’ campaigner.
It took our former prime minister less than a day to move from saying, “I don’t want to make too much of [the] incident”, to declaring, “if you don't like the kind of intimidation that is creeping into our society, the only safe thing you can do is to vote no”.
Bearing in mind the fact that it is actually homosexual people who have long been intimidated, not to mention assaulted and murdered, I want to make one thing clear: assaulting someone for their beliefs is not okay. But using a bizarre situation as ammunition in your fear campaign is scarcely much better – especially since the man charged with the assault claims it had nothing to do with same-sex marriage.
We should not stand for the disingenuous campaigning that keeps shifting the focus of what the postal survey is really about. The question being asked of all Australians is not about safe schools, or tolerance, or political correctness, or anything besides marriage. We should reject any attempt by campaigners to let our vote be affected by anything other than the question being asked.
It was telling when the first advertisement from the Coalition for Marriage did not actually mention marriage at all. The fear-based message was that voting yes would somehow lead to parents losing the right to educate their children.
I find it ironic the conservatives crying “won’t somebody think of the children” so seldom follow their own advice. For same-sex marriage, children are a political football, and yet for the offshore detention of refugees, they are an inconvenience.
More than 2000 incident reports leaked from the Nauru detention centre revealed allegations children were being sexually, physically and verbally assaulted by guards. On Manus Island, the government agreed to a $70 million settlement rather than have the truth aired in a public trial. The staggering lack of accountability means children fleeing war are abused on our watch. It is our national shame.
Yet if you ask leading conservative voice Andrew Bolt, “free the children” means “let more drown”. In this twisted moral perspective, where the ends justifies the most horrifying means, the hypocrisy is as blatant as it is sickening.
- Harrison Vesey is a north-west Sydney reporter for Fairfax Media.