Some amusing reverse-ferrets came out of yesterday’s ALP National Conference same sex marriage debate.
While the vibe was generally positive, progressive activists and the Greens were quick to go on the attack to accuse Labor of settling for a conscience vote rather than a binding decree drawn from the platform.
At a 5,000-strong rally outside the conference convention centre, Labor was damned — partly from within its own ranks — for not going the whole hog, confusing some onlookers who viewed the Barr-Wong amendment to “ensure equal access to marriage under statute for all adult couples irrespective of sex” as a significant step forward.
The Greens were in a difficult position because the party allows their elected Members a conscience vote on all issues. Before the platform-conscience dyad popped up in the last three weeks, an appeal to conscience appeared to be the best the left could hope for.
In January 2010, Sarah Hanson-Young called on Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott to allow their MPs a conscience vote on marriage equality, saying “let the members of your parties have the courage of their convictions by giving them a conscience vote.”
On July 6, Hanson-Young reiterated her call for a conscience vote in the Senate, saying “All members in this place should be able to have a conscience vote on this matter… We need a conscience vote on my private members’ bill and I believe that it can happen.”
But not yesterday. “Rather than seizing the moment and bringing forward a guarantee of this legislation passing the parliament, the Labor party has opted out,” Hanson-Young said.