the marginally abridged hendo

“Religious leaders and politicians have a perfect right to discuss abortion, writes Gerard Henderson …”

Well yes, and (unlike some) I’m prepared to accept that Tony Abbott, Ron Boswell and John Anderson are sincere in their interest in pursuing abortion law reform. But what about John Howard, not usually known as a deeply devout God-botherer by any means. Why has he announced that he’ll allow a Parliamentary debate on this issue? In policy terms it’s hardly even a tenth order issue, and even Henderson notes that “it is unlikely the status quo will change“.

Debating time is precious in Federal Parliament, with the government having a heavy legislative program and a range of pressing economic and social issues needing attention. Usually, Private Members’ Bills and Matters of Public Importance not sponsored by one of the major parties get short shrift and never see the light of day on the Notice Paper. If Howard is going to make room for an abortion debate, it’s entirely sensible and legitimate to ask “why”? Is it to send a thinly coded message to the fundies and Penties that the Coalition are their kind of people eve though they’re not going to actually do anything substantive? Is it a pea and thimble trick to divert attention from other areas they’d prefer people to ignore? Or what?

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

I don’t know. But strategically, I’m all for it since it puts pressure on the feminists, and forces them to divert resources from other areas in which they might be planning to do evil. So as an anti-feminist tactic, raising tha abortion bogey is good.

That said, I’d rather see a broader debate about reproductive rights in general, leading to a more comprehensive review of the lagal system to make it more equitable for both sexes.

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

Ken, I think Mark mentioned this on another thread – I believe that one of the Democrat Senators (Brian Greig from memory) introduced a Private Members’ Bill about same-sex partners’ rights to superannuation. I’m sure that there were many federal mps who’d like to have debated that but the Government didn’t think it warranted one.

someone with more time than me needs to do the research on this – how many Private Members’ Bills have been introduced into Parliament since the Howard government was elected? How many make it past the notice paper or the first reading stage? what are they about?

I’d be willing to bet a few get introduced, almost none get debated, and the only ones that do are “moral issues” bills. wasn’t the NT Euthanasia legislation overturned by way of a Private Members’ Bill introduced by Kevin Andrews? I wasn’t living in Australia at the time so I’m not sure.

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

ah, so that’s yr agenda, EP? distract me from evil feminist activities like earning a living by fooling me into taking yr arguments about reproductive rights seriously and engaging with them? ok, back to my evil feminist infiltration of the small business community… and my evil feminist attempts to get government tenders because of the skills I’ve evilly developed through having access to education and training as a woman…

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

Curses, foiled again!

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

Perhaps The Great One meant what he said to Laurie on Sunday and does not want to be seen as stifling the debate. He made it pretty clear though the debate was not going to change policy.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

Johnnie is just throwing a bone to some influential party members – I don’t think he expects either to win or lose many votes among the great unwashed by it.

Anything that diverts the Mad Monk and the troglodytes from issues they can actually change is fine by me.

AlanDownUnder
AlanDownUnder
2022 years ago

Seems the only justifications for crossing the floor these days are “God told me to”/”what a load of god-bothering minority cobblers”. There have been better recent justifications.

ps
EP – Aren’t you getting any and/or who told who it was finished between you? (I assume you’re not gay)

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

Alan, EP’s given up sex because he’s too worried about sperm theft – see the end of this thread for an explanation of this heinous femonazi plot:

http://troppoarmadillo.ubersportingpundit.com/archives/008430.html

Meg
Meg
2022 years ago

“But what about John Howard, not usually known as a deeply devout God-botherer by any means”.

Not known, but he has done such things, such as open the new Hillsong building in October 2002, that make me a wee bit suspicious…

saint
2022 years ago

Howard was raised as a Methodist I think (of the ‘charity must be earnt’) school and now is sometimes seen in an Anglican church although usually in official capacity. I am always in two minds about Howard but people’s faith waxes and wanes and is expressed differently in public life. He is of the Hollingworth school if anything -‘finding God in the small dark places’ – as Hollingworth once put it. And not one to wear God on his sleeve. I have only ever heard him speak of ‘Christian tradition’ and even on the recent Compass special he was somewhat evasive on anything more personal than that. Who knows he may be a closet charismatic. And Yellow, Louise Markus Liberal MP attends Hillsong whose members also funded/supported a lot of her campaign; her maiden speech in parliament praised the Houstons; Costello has also spoken there, as has the fantabulous-not Joyce Meyer (which will give you an idea of their theology)

Anyway, one of the reasons I have resisted blogging about this ‘debate’ is that I have no idea what this debate is about. All I know is that it is making me angry.

Before Christmas it seemed like a bit of stirring to heave the masses from their inertia and then Howard stepped in and put a plug on Abbott.

Now Howard seems to be playing his usual double game – not stifling debate gives hope to one side, suggesting any legislation will not pass gives hope to the other. He could just be testing the water. I think Gillard or someone recently commented that if this Private Bill makes it, it will show some bias given the history of private bills in the past. If I find the link again I will post it.

But my questions remain: who initiated this debate, what is the problem(s) that people want to address, what are they proposing to do about it, what are the expected outcomes they hope to achieve, and why.

Is it that hard to answer those questions?

My biggest concern is that this does not seem to be coming from the community. While I will say I would fall towards the pro-life end of the spectrum (but please don’t assume what that translates to support for any of this or any particular legislative agenda), I am concerned that once again it’s a few who see “a problem” or the “need for a debate” without the courtesy of telling their constituents whom they represent what that is. And without that community backing, an already touchy issue is just going to get ugly again and whatever the outcome because it will have been pushed by a few; it will leave only a bitter taste in people’s mouths or have negative fall out on others. There are many “pro-lifers” for example, who do not seek legislative changes, chosing instead to work other ways (eg running crisis pregnancy support groups) or who simply do not see abortion as the pressing moral issue of the times.

I also don’t like how a few – like NSW Right to Life – have coopted religious views to support their side, particularly through the issue of that misleading booklet late last year (and maybe I will blog about that…the magic 100,000 may be attributable to that). I am wary of other tactics like one recent meeting with MPs and religious leaders reported in the press which was invite only. In the case of one meeting (it could have been the same one..I have to go back and check) all the religious leaders who attended were male and from what I can find, hardly representative. The trick, it seems, is to simply find one from each “major religious group” and then you have consensus of something. This is despite the fact that say, Christian church governance structures mean that say, a bishop cannot speak on behalf of a diocese other than his own, Buddhists essentially only speak for themselves etc etc Oh and of course, we are talking Sydney centric or at best Melbourne as well for most of this.

I suspect some of those religious leaders are simply politically naive and sucked in, some there genuinely believe they are doing the right thing, some have their own agendas, but when they start signing statements, are they signing on behalf of themselves, their parish, what? And if the Christians amongst them are somehow representing me, then what the hell have I put my name to and for what will it be used? Augh….that just opens another set of questions and a few cans of worms.

Finally (and with apologies for a long rambling comment) I note with interest that even Pell’s diocese had no crisis pregnancy support service until he ordered Centacare to get it together recently.

And I would also love to spend five minutes with all of those Christians who are agitating over this, and just ask them, how well Christians are doing in holding their own marriages and families together.

I think I will go and drink a glass of water now.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

for the most evangelcal on the blogosphere I will support any pro-life legislation however I will not vote for them for essentially indirect biblical reasons.

Any christian who goes into politics should always shout I put God first my party second.

This has never happenedwhich is why christians should never go into politics

harry
harry
2022 years ago

Pea and Thimble for mine.

Abbott, as Chief of Government Business (or whatever the title is), brought it up again while Howard was out of the country.
Howard, in the past, hasn’t said anything about it (a) because he knows Abbott et al will; and (b) cos he knows that it will go nowhere – remember those three female Liberal MPs who slapped down Abbott about this prior to the election.

But Howard does know that it will deflect attention away from this: http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Abbott-defends-drug-price-backdowns/2005/02/08/1107625201798.html

Smart move by Gillard to question the thinking behind the bill rather than actually enter into a debate on abortion.

tim g
tim g
2022 years ago

It’s a pretty straightforward tactic, really. Howard is prepared to allow the debate, and indulge the “pro-lifers” (how I hate that term), in order to put the issue to bed.

For further reading about this type of Howardian strategy, see “1999 – Republic referendum”.

trackback
2022 years ago

Hendo catches up to Public Opinion

The Right Wing Death Beast (RWDB) at the Fairfax papers, Hendo, also catches up with public opinion.

Also briefly mentioned at Troppo.