British people often react with incomprehension at how compulsory voting changes the way Australians approach elections. The ABS postal survey on same-sex marriage is a reminder of just how different Australia’s usual voting procedure is from that in most other developed democracies: people are running the campaign as though it were compulsory, you see, and they’re screwing it up royally on all sides.
I wrote about this (and other, related) issues in this week’s Spectator, which you should absolutely go & buy from your local newsagent.
When I was a girl, my mother used to say she didn’t like standing on the moral high ground because she didn’t have a head for heights.
News that a significant percentage of those who support same-sex marriage plan to boycott the postal plebiscite (or survey, or opinion poll, or ‘plebishite’ as my partner calls it) has even reached Blighty. It represents a concerted attempt to climb a particular moral hill and then die on it. I have no desire to die on this particular hill and am becoming rather tired of campaigners purporting to represent my interests making the perfect the enemy of the good.
Yes, it’s true that a popular vote of any sort is not how we make legal change in Westminster systems – a point LNP Senator Dean Smith makes eloquently. I get that. Yes, voting on other people’s rights in any sort of liberal democracy – even when constitutional arrangements permit it – is improper. There is a reason women were not enfranchised in otherwise liberal Switzerland until 1971. Yes, responding to the Senate’s intransigence in blocking a compulsory plebiscite by disrespecting the institution itself is pretty pitiful. To borrow an Americanism, there should be no end runs around the Constitution. They do no-one any credit. And the campaign – even at this early stage – is already showing all the bits of Australia not for export.
Read the whole thing, as they say.