Abbott unleashed on the same-sex debate could be a happy marriage after all
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Abbott unleashed on the same-sex debate could be a happy marriage after all

So, Alan Jones tweeted yesterday. "The Government needs a cage fighter," he said. "A mongrel, salivating, snarling, junkyard attack dog. They've got one. Let him off the chain".

He was talking about Tony Abbott, of course.

If the feds want someone to go rabid on same-sex marriage, Tony Abbott's their man.

If the feds want someone to go rabid on same-sex marriage, Tony Abbott's their man.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

But then Jones, as Mike Carlton shot back, also used to say the NSW police force needed a hundred Roger Rogersons, so his judgment can't necessarily be trusted.

The Parrot was probably tweeting in frustration at the latest Newspoll, which had Prime Minister Truffles McTophat sliding deeper in the slough of despond. As a supporter of marriage equality, Jones surely wouldn't relish the prospect of Abbott, the salivating, snarling, jug-eared rotty sinking the fangs into him on same-sex marriage. (As long as there were no onions lying around to distract Abs, of course.)

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Not pictured: Top hat, respectful debate.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Not pictured: Top hat, respectful debate.

Photo: Andrew Meares
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But maybe Toned Abs going fully rabid is just what Truffle's respectful marriage-equality debate needs. It's pretty obvious from the awfulness of some of the early anti-SSM propaganda that things are going to get fugly. So why not just go there?

Abbott is totally the man for that job. An increasingly bizarre wingnut, he is less a bogeyman these days than a figure of fun.

Someone like Mark Latham seems more genuinely animated by nastiness. Abbott is just … well, I dunno, he just seems increasingly bonkers to me. It could be a win/win for the country if he pulled out all stops on marriage equality and still it "got up" anyway.

I use the air pixels because of course this $120 million omnishambles isn't a real vote; it's an expensive panic move by the PM to hang on for a couple more weeks at the Lodge. It will deliver no mandate with any legal force at all. A Twitter poll would have as much legitimacy, possibly more.

And yet … if you believe the long arc of history bends towards justice I still think you should "vote". Simply because the opponents of marriage equality will lay claim to every "vote" not cast as support for their position.

Yes, if the postal plebiscite, or whatever we're calling it this week, gets up with a massive majority, the government has all but promised to ignore it.

But if it fails, the bigots and straighteners will absolutely haul it out like a dead cat every time anybody attempts to move this issue forward again.

In spite of the half-arsed, desperate cowardice and folly of the whole process, it still has some potential pay-offs. A winning "vote" for equality could help move us just that little bit closer to the day when hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens finally do gain a right currently denied them for no good reason.

And it could help get rid of Tony Abbott.

John Birmingham

John Birmingham is a columnist and blogger for the Brisbane Times. He is also an award winning magazine writer and the author of Leviathan, the Unauthorised Biography of Sydney, which won the National Award for Non-Fiction. He amuses himself in his down time by writing novels which improve with altitude.

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