tonight the ABC’s current affairs panel show, QandA, reached a new high. apart from a very spirited debate between Malcolm Turnbull, Spectator editor Tom Switzer, deputy of the Greens Christine Milne, climate change minister Penny Wong and ALP strongman Graham Richardson — which on its own was a class above the limp-wristed cliche-fest that was the leaders’ debate last night — there was a breathtaking moment of honesty from Wong.
she was asked by member of the audience how she, as a gay woman, could be a part of a party that denied same-sex marriage rights to gays and lesbians.
i’m writing this before the transcript becomes available so you will have to accept my paraphrasing for now, but the gist of what she said was, the ALP set itself an agenda of reform for gays and lesbians, and has achieved all of the reforms it said it would undertake. she preceded that with a statement about how she would conduct herself both as a lesbian and as an asian when she entered public life. she also made the point that as a member of caucus she supported the policies of the party. “When you’re part of a team you play as a team,” she said.
another person in the audience then said ‘if malcolm turnbull can disagree with his leader on climate change, why can’t you disagree with yours about same-sex marriage?”
(the answer to that, sir, is that malcolm turnbull’s party doesn’t have a caucus that can dump you out all meaningful public policy debate on a moment’s notice.)
that’s where richo leapt to wong’s defence. he made the point that wong, along with others in the party, have worked and continue to work for gay and lesbian rights from within the system and criticising her for not publicly disagreeing with party policy was a stupid thing to do. he was harsh, but he was also passionate in his defence of somebody for whom he clearly has a lot of respect.
he also made the point that change in favour of same-sex marriage WILL COME. it’s inevitable.
and he’s right.
look, the fact is this. Penny Wong knew when she joined the ALP that she was joining an organisation which values loyalty and plays as one team, with one voice at the head of it. clearly she felt she had something to offer and that working from within for the causes she cares about was BETTER THAN NOT WORKING FOR THE CAUSE AT ALL.
richo’s point was crudely made but relevant. the ALP demands public unity, or you don’t have a job in the ALP.
would gays and lesbians prefer not to have an out, smart, proud, literate, eloquent, cool, professional politician on their side working from within the system? really?
if i were looking for a career in politics, it would be the ALP i would be joining. and if i did that, i know i would have to make similar choices about what i said publicly and why. and i would hope that i would respond in EXACTLY the same way as Penny Wong did tonight.
she brought a lump to my throat, and so did richo, for that matter, and i haven’t felt proud of politicians in that way for a very VERY long time.
gays and lesbians of australia — we need to accept that not everyone can fight the cause in radical ways. some have to fight from within the established system in a way that GETS THINGS DONE.
all power to you Senator Penny Wong. you totally rock.
and just totally apropos of nothing, Tom Switzer is an embarrassment to the media industry, and a total arseclown.
here’s an extract from my latest column for goldcoast.com.au:
WITH half the world running around the Gold Coast this morning in the madness known as the Gold Coast Marathon, it seems apropos to take a look at a few gadgets that can get a geek running.
Or get a runner geeking. Whichever.
Now, bear in mind, running is not my thing. You only have to take a look at my picture to know that.
Even at my youngest and fittest — and believe me, under all this there used to be a decent athlete — running and me just didn’t get on. It hurt and there never seemed much point if you weren’t going to hit a ball, throw something or jump over something at the end of it. But that’s me.
Clearly there are plenty of people down at the Broadwater this morning who take great joy in running, puking, sweating and aging about 20 years in three hours.
You can read the whole thing here.