John Howard’s com­ments have broad ap­peal

The Weekend Australian - - COMMENTARY -

I don’t have any re­li­gious be­liefs, but I agree with John Howard that those who do should be free to pur­sue their be­liefs in the event of same-sex mar­riage be­com­ing law (“Howard ramps up at­tack on Turn­bull”, 15/9).

We now have bunches of left-wing ag­i­ta­tors dis­rupt­ing any gath­er­ings for the No case. It is easy to see that these same ag­i­ta­tors will con­tinue their cam­paign against the churches and re­li­gious free­doms af­ter SSM be­comes law, and it will be nec­es­sary to make it a crim­i­nal of­fence if the author­i­ties hope to curb it. R. Wat­son, Sun­ny­bank Hills, Qld

John Howard is right to crit­i­cise Mal­colm Turn­bull for not mov­ing to de­tail free­dom of speech and re­li­gion pro­tec­tions be­fore the sur­vey closes.

Turn­bull’s in­ac­tion may prove more dam­ag­ing than he imag­ines. Those who see the need for these pro­tec­tions will be more in­clined to vote No and, in the event of a ma­jor­ity Yes vote, will not thank Turn­bull later if their con­cerns are shown to have been well founded. And if there is a No vote, they will still see Turn­bull as luke­warm on free­dom of speech and

free­dom of re­li­gion is­sues. Oth­ers may even read Turn­bull’s in­ac­tion as a cal­cu­lated tac­tic to en­hance the No vote, de­spite his sup­port for the Yes case, the rea­son­ing be­ing that if most of us say No, it will be a long time be­fore the is­sue re­gains mo­men­tum. Philip Tem­ple, Lar­rakeyah, NT

Ir­re­spec­tive of their views, the pub­lic is en­ti­tled to know the full im­pli­ca­tions of SSM. The pro­posed amend­ments to leg­is­la­tion should there­fore be avail­able be­fore the vote, giv­ing com­men­ta­tors ad­e­quate time for de­tailed anal­y­sis.

John Howard is right for point­ing out there may be un­in­tended con­se­quences. A head­long rush into this big so­cial change may suit some, but there is a need to re­spect and prop­erly con­sider op­pos­ing views. Michael Schilling, Millswood, SA

Many Aus­tralians would have nod­ded their heads at John Howard’s care­fully cal­i­brated but pointed words on the need for the Turn­bull gov­ern­ment to ad­dress con­cerns about the le­gal pro­tec­tions needed to ac­com­pany same-sex mar­riage.

His no-non­sense wis­dom res­onates with the many who look be­yond sim­plis­tic slo­gans. As there is men­tion of plans to fast-track Peter Costello into a seat, many would urge Howard to con­sider re­turn­ing to pol­i­tics.

The Turn­bull gov­ern­ment is dis­in­clined to draft spe­cific safe­guards to free­dom of speech, be­lief and as­so­ci­a­tion. This is dere­lic­tion of duty. The con­tempt it shows for valid ques­tions and con­cerns will be re­turned at the bal­lot box. Ruth Bonetti, The Gap, Qld

I may or may not agree with prom­i­nent Aus­tralians such as Mar­garet Court and Israel Fo­lau, but what I wit­nessed should send shivers down the back­bone of every free­dom-lov­ing Aus­tralian. No cam­paign­ers have been vil­i­fied. Bigot, ho­mo­phobe and other name-call­ing have be­come the modus operandi for Yes sup­port­ers. Chris Sargeant, En­deav­our Hills, Vic

Nei­ther re­li­gious nor po­lit­i­cal con­ser­va­tives ap­pear able to coun­te­nance change, nor ques­tion long-held be­liefs. Those groups were the first to in­sist that Is­lam un­dergo a re­for-

ma­tion to align it with our so­ci­ety. The SSM is­sue un­cov­ers a plethora of be­hav­iours and at­ti­tudes that in­di­cate that sex­u­al­ity other than het­ero­sex­u­al­ity is to be ig­nored, same-sex at­trac­tion, gen­der flu­id­ity do not ex­ist and should not be spo­ken of.

Ap­par­ently, for these groups, the con­cept of mar­riage is to be taught by schools or the church. I as­sume it is a parental re­spon­si­bil­ity, not one left to the blink­ered un­der­stand­ing of the church or ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. Roger Bridg­land, West Ho­bart, Tas

I am ho­mo­sex­ual and I wish to dis­man­tle so­ci­ety. I want the fed­er­a­tion to work more ef­fi­ciently; I want less whin­ing about rights and more about re­spon­si­bil­i­ties; I want fewer vic­tims com­plain­ing; I want an ac­cep­tance of how lucky we are.

But please tell me how mar­ry­ing my part­ner rips at the fab­ric of so­ci­ety. And how does it in­ter­fere with re­li­gious free­doms? What sort of big­otry is driv­ing this anti-gay mar­riage cam­paign? If only there was more pas­sion for Je­sus’s mes­sage. Love thy neigh­bour per­haps? Ian Hunter, Lewisham, NSW

John Kis-Rigo (Let­ters, 15/9) sees in the SSM de­bate echoes from how com­mu­nist regimes claimed to sup­port free­dom. To­day’s athe­ists will say their views bear no con­nec­tion to Stalin’s League of the Mil­i­tant God­less, but the left ig­nores lessons of his­tory. Per­se­cu­tion of re­li­gious free­dom brings a numb­ing con­form­ity that im­per­ils di­ver­sity, tol­er­ance, cre­ativ­ity and in­clu­sion. Robert Tulip, Fraser, ACT

It beg­gars be­lief that one re­li­gion’s trep­i­da­tion to­ward gay mar­riage is pilloried as big­oted, yet another re­li­gion’s right to en­force full head cov­er­ings on women is hardly ques­tioned. When will karma run over this dogma? John Her­bert, Sandy Bay, Tas

One pos­i­tive of John Howard’s awak­en­ing to fight a rear­guard ac­tion to stop SSM is that many who will re­turn the sur­vey won’t know who he is. And many of those who are old enough to re­mem­ber him would do any­thing to neu­tralise his call for a No vote. D. J. Fraser, Cur­rumbin, Qld

Same-sex mar­riage is be­ing brought to us by the same peo­ple who have de­liv­ered our en­ergy pol­icy. What could pos­si­bly go wrong? Ga­van Des­mond, Holt, ACT

On Ra­dio Na­tional on Fri­day morn­ing, three com­men­ta­tors were analysing the events of the week. In dis­cussing the con­se­quences of the me­dia re­forms, they were of one voice in ar­gu­ing that it would lead to a re­duc­tion in di­ver­sity. In fact, all three were of one voice on all is­sues dis­cussed: en­ergy, same-sex mar­riage, the postal vote and changes in the me­dia land­scape. The irony ap­pears not to have reg­is­tered on those who choose the pan­els on Ra­dio Na­tional. Jennie Ge­orge, Mol­ly­mook, NSW

Lionel Mur­phy would have made a per­fect men­tor for Ed­die Obeid. Gilly Tru­man, Bowral, NSW

Chris Roy­lance (Let­ters, 14/9) claims that in the past two years we have had the worst hur­ri­canes ever. In 1900 a hur­ri­cane hit Galve­ston, a town of about 40,000 peo­ple. More than 12,000 died. Un­til Har­vey two weeks ago, the US had not had a hur­ri­cane make land­fall since Ka­t­rina in 2005 the long­est pe­riod be­tween hur­ri­canes since Euro­pean set­tle­ment. Bob Buczma, Rand­wick, NSW

On Mon­day, Chris Mitchell told us Aus­tralia rep­re­sents 1.3 per cent of global emis­sions”. The Aus­tralian’s edi­to­rial reg­u­larly tells us it is 1.4 per cent. And David Bid­strup (Let­ters, 15/9) ups the ante to 1.6 per cent. So if they can’t even get their facts con­sis­tent, then the premise of my orig­i­nal let­ter re­mains im­mutable and con­firms the Pope’s sug­ges­tion: cli­mate change de­niers are “stupid”. Chris Roy­lance, Padding­ton, Qld

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