JERRY ROBERTS. A matter of behaviour.The CFMMEU and the Banks.

The wheels are falling off the Government as Parliament winds down for Christmas. Both Coalition Government and Labor Opposition should consider a comment made by Pauline Hanson, who has asserted her authority with a sorely needed dose of common sense.

After Pauline torpedoed the Government’s union-bashing legislation and gave Matthias Cormann a severe dose of indigestion, she said her vote had been influenced by the latest revelation from the banks. Her comment rings true. In effect she was acknowledging that Australia is facing deep-seated, deadly serious problems and trade union power is not one of them.

Neither is religion. It is a matter of priorities. At about the same time as his union-bashing strategy fell apart, Prime Minister Scott Morrison withdrew the Government’s draft religious discrimination legislation and sent it back to the drawing board. Religious freedom in Australia is guaranteed under Section 116 of our Constitution. The Government is trying to solve a problem that does not exist and is therefore insoluble.

The rejected draft has its origins in the unwillingness of a small minority in some Church groups to accept the majority decision on same sex marriage. Marriage is none of the Church’s business. It is a legal contract administered in Australia under the Commonwealth Marriage Act. Marriage is fundamentally about property, clarifying issues of inheritance and succession. This was always the case, going way back before the time of Christ. Marriage is about law and order.

The few people who marry in Churches in Australia sign exactly the same legal contract signed by the vast majority of newlyweds who marry in their back yards, in the municipal rose garden or on the beach. There are many areas in contemporary Australian society where the Church can play a useful role. The sex and marriage business is not of them and it is time for Israel Folau and Margaret Court to relax, be calm and peaceful and grow up.

When couples of the same sex wish to be ;married in a Church they are likely to be members of the congregation and the arrangements should be made at the local parish level. I understand this is the practice in the Uniting Church. Politicians and prelates farting around in the farm yard chasing redneck votes are unlikely to improve outcomes.

That brings us back to Pauline, the banks and priorities. There are two massive elephants in the Parliamentary court yard and if we are not going to be trampled by them we need to tone down the petty divisions in our politics. The big ones are the unruly mammoth known as the world economy and the clash of the titans between China and the United States of America.

Nobody is suggesting we have enough brains and talent in our Parliament to deal with these issues but it is possible for the Parliament to play a constructive role. This will not happen in the House of Representatives, which has degenerated into a boring wrestling arena. Question time in the Reps reminds us of a movie called Planet of the Apes, although the apes are more reasonable and better mannered.

We look to the Senate for leadership and the rejection of the Government’s union-bashing legislation is an example of what can be achieved when Opposition, minor parties and Independents work together to call out Government trouble-making. The Senate can extend the use of expert committees, inviting people from outside the political system to speak in public sessions, thus playing an educational role for the nation.

Jerry Roberts is a former parliamentary reporter and a member of the ALP.

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7 Responses to JERRY ROBERTS. A matter of behaviour.The CFMMEU and the Banks.

  1. Hi Jocelyn, You had nothing to say on my review of your excellent book. I don’t think I misrepresented you although it is such a magnum opus that I would not attempt a comprehensive critique. I have just attended the funeral service for one of the Aboriginal women whose journey from the desert to white civilisation is recorded in the documentary “Contact,” which you may have seen on NITV. I spoke at the graveside, contrasting the survival of the hunter-gatherers with the greed-stricken wreckage of Australian European society. I think I will write something about it.

  2. Jocelyn Pixley says:

    Thanks Jerry. I was also surprised about the Nationals on this bill, since they were part of the renegades who wanted the banking RC. If anyone can tell me why they didn’t put their self-interests foremost with the “integrity” bill, I’d be grateful. After all, the Hayne FSRC was designed to be weak but the FSRC team did not obey Liberal directives and managed to expose a great deal of corruption and certainly a lack of integrity among the banking and other financial non-services. Meantime the LNP continues to attack unions while seriously underfunding the financial regulators. We know which sector it’s pleasing in this case.
    To add, my dog-eared copy of the Constitution is clear that religious freedom is uppermost in the clauses. I agree that “some members” of religious bodies want more, but of what conflicting resolutions? I also think we should refer to “global heating” and its Australian catastrophe, not helped by the usual wreckers.

  3. Mike Jubow says:

    Our one and only Pauline, has always presented herself to me as a bit of an airhead, trying to gain credibility through her unique brand of angry air head splatter statements to the press.

    Well, congratulations, Pauline, you have finally found one that did have some meaning and worth. Unfortunately, tagging along with the Libs on most things does not bring you or your cowboy outfit much credence. Far better that you do the hard yards, grist your own grain, keep your nose to the wheel and concentrate on and hone your own policies. Trying to ride on the liberals back will only bring you grief.

    Oh, and a little tip for you for the next election. Try to endorse some candidates with a bit more intelligence and real life experience than those you have now. You might get somewhere then.

  4. Evan Hadkins says:

    Actually, it is often distinctly secular people who want a church wedding.

    It is often believers who are freer about it – confident that god can’t be confined to a building.

  5. Rosemary O'Grady says:

    Hear! Hear! to all of that JR.
    I switched-off Question Time this week, missed most of the Angus Taylor charade; was appalled at the Jacquie Lambie soap opera in the Senate, sided-with Naomi Wolf who, demonstrably, was not at New College, Oxford when A. Taylor said, in Parliament, she was and so, should resign.
    But the big issue is s.116. I saw, whilst ‘surfing’ for ‘News’ – Parnell Palme McGuinness sigh patiently on some panel or other as if to say: we are discussing a bill for religious freedom? how did I get here? Me Too.

  6. Malcolm Crout says:

    Very witty piece and absolutely on target. Hanson surprised me by articulating the bleeding obvious in quite an eloquent manner, although delivered at a decibel level that aggravated my sinuses.
    Apt observation by Ken Dyer too. Let’s not forget a national ICAC, but yes a herd indeed.
    How the bloody hell did these twits get elected again?

  7. Ken Dyer says:

    Only two massive elephants?

    There’s a bloody herd of them the giant one, climate change.

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