Earlier this week our sister publication the Western Advocate canvassed the views of member for Calare Andrew Gee on gay marriage and the controversial postal plebiscite.
One of the questions directly posed to Mr Gee by the Advocate was if “he support(s) or oppose(s) ultimately changing the Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriages?”
Here’s some of his comments in response:
“There are some strong views on either side of the debate.” “People want to have a say on the issue and that includes people supporting a change and those who don’t.” “I think our country communities are mature enough to have a respectful discussion about this topic.”
If you can glimpse in those words even the smallest indication of Mr Gee’s stance on this issue you have an eye for the microscopic subtleties of language that even Shakespeare lacked.
When viewed through the prism of Australia’s democratic processes Mr Gee’s final fence-sitting comment is particularly frustrating:
“It’s now up to the people of Calare to decide if the definition of marriage should change and I think it would follow that its elected representative would have to accept the outcome.”
Apologies, Mr Gee, but that’s not how our system of government is designed to work. We elect our representatives – yourself included – to make decisions.
We do this because the alternative of polling the population to weigh in on every issue would be an utter waste of time and money.
If it proves nothing else – and it doesn’t – a $122 million non-binding postal survey surely underscores this.
We choose our representatives knowing they may support or reject policies not perfectly aligned with our own beliefs. That’s one of the costs of our democratic system.
But it’s a cost we can only pay if our elected officials stand up and make decisions.
It seems like one of the main virtues of the plebiscite Mr Gee and his parliamentary colleagues support is to give politicians an excuse to avoid revealing positions they fear will alienate some or most of their constituents.
Again, that’s not how our federal system of government works.
Mr Gee: the Central Western Daily is calling on your to publicly state your position on legalising same-sex marriage now.
It may be too little and too late to save us our share of the costly postal vote, but it will at least show your electorate your willingness to do what you were elected to do.