Last week the Federal Government, led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pushed forward their plan B on marriage equality. Unable to get the legislation for a plebiscite through the Senate, they are now pushing ahead with a non-binding postal survey which will reported cost taxpayers $122 Million.
Architects from practices large and small, just like the general public, took to social media to express their objection to this obscene proposal.
This postal madness is not about “all Australians getting their say”, as the government would like us to believe. This simply doesn’t pass muster given that the survey is not compulsory, will be done via the mail and unlikely to be widely available to those Australians living in rural locations, travelling overseas, homeless or otherwise unable to access the postal system.
“The postal plebiscite is not even a glorified opinion poll. It has no glory at all”.
The process is almost certainly going to be damaging to vulnerable members of the LGBTQI+ Community. In the opening days of the campaign, commentators and politicians alike made some truly terrible comments about the relationships held dear by this community. Senator Penny Wong noted in a highly personal and passionate speech to parliament that comments had already been made about children of LGBTQI+ families being the next stolen generation. Many fear that this level of abhorrent commentary is just the beginning. It is worth noting at this point that there is currently no legislation surrounding the campaigning rules, so it is currently open slather on fake news and dirty tactics.
As well as being undemocratic and damaging to an important group within our society, this process is also an enormous waste of $122 Million. By comparison, the Victorian Government and the City of Port Phillip have combined to fund the construction of the Victorian Pride Centre. For $28 Million, Victoria will have a comprehensive facility, larger than that of San Francisco, which will help to support the LGBTQI+ community. If our federally elected officials could merely do their job, not only would all Australians have the right to marry the person they love, we could also spend the $122 Million to build similar centres right across the country. This would go a long way to meaningfully supporting a vital section of our society.
Perhaps the most critical aspect of this survey is why should all Australians get ‘a say’ on the human rights of others? Would it be acceptable to ask the population if Christians should be entitled to apply for a driver’s license, or if senior citizens should be entitled to Medicare? Of course it would not. And yet here we are.
So now as individuals we have to make our own choice as to whether the ends justify the means. Should we participate in such an offensive process in order to get a just outcome? It would seem there are only two options available to those who see the LGBTQI+ community as being equals in our society. To participate and vote yes, or to boycott.
However perhaps there is a third option for those who are not members of the LGBQTI+ community, in order to show your support. Offer your vote as a proxy to someone who may wish to one day marry their same sex partner. If they say boycott, or if they say vote yes, do that. The process is already undemocratic, so why shouldn’t heterosexual voters effectively amplify the voice of the community most impacted?
As a final thought on this low point of Australian democracy, we as a community need to be as supportive as possible of the LGBQTI+ community as possible. Keeping in mind that there will be people we don’t know to be part of this community, we need to be on the active look out for the welfare of all our colleagues and friends. Homophobic comments have no place in our offices, on our work sites, at the pub or in the ‘locker room’. For those who are personally struggling, please look after yourself and seek help early.
Equality is for everyone.
Feel free to contact us with questions or feedback:
- Pushing the boundaries of small practice, Q+A with Anthony Clarke August 22, 2017
- Going Postal August 14, 2017
- Selling out our cities July 16, 2017
- 2017 National Architecture Conference Day 3 May 8, 2017
- 2017 National Architecture Conference Day 2 May 5, 2017