This morning, former Prime Minister and current Liberal backbencher Tony Abbott fronted the media to firmly establish his position as a leader in the vote ‘no’ campaign against marriage equality.
“Obviously I will be voting ‘no’,” Abbott said to reporters outside Parliament House in Canberra.
“But in the end this is not about the politicians,” the politician continued, surrounded by television cameras and microphones. “This is about the people, it’s about your view.”
Except of course that it is very much about the politicians.
The vote, by the people whose view is said to be so important, is not legally binding. Ultimately, $122 million will be spent on a postal plebiscite that could be overruled by parliament. That’s $27 million more than is spent on mental health resources in this country. That’s $54 million more than Homelessness Australia estimates would save 3000 domestic violence victims who are turned away from crisis accommodation each year. Or maybe they could fill some of the soul gaps created by that $100 million federal government cut to the arts.
If this is so much about the people and their view, then you’d think there would be some consideration of opinion polls, which are regularly and scrupulously conducted. According to a Fairfax Nielson Poll, 65 per cent of Australians support same-sex marriage and 75 per cent understand the reform to be inevitable. We know that most Australians are in favour of marriage equality – if this really is about the people then the decision has already been made.
But Tony Abbott insists this isn't about him. It's about you. And your view. But also it's a little bit (a lot) about his view that he would very much like you to agree with.
"And I say to you if you don't like same-sex marriage, vote 'no'," Abbott advocates.
If you're searching for the political argument in this statement - there isn't one.