Labor machine man puts family first

The moment on Insiders this morning when new NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson is torn between the Labor line on gay marriage and the life chances of his gay son. He says the right thing in the end, but his initial equivocation was painful to watch:

BARRIE CASSIDY: Just a couple of quick questions and quick answers. You’ve dealt with marijuana and a little more directly than Bill Clinton.

Gay marriages?

JOHN ROBERTSON: Look it’s a federal issue.

And I have a son who’s openly gay. Obviously I think he is a wonderful person.

But it’s a matter for the Commonwealth.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Do you support his right to marry?

JOHN ROBERTSON: Well I see him as a person who is a genuine person who can make a contribution to our society. He’s bright, he’s intelligent.

And to be blunt I think people should have the same rights.

9 Responses to “Labor machine man puts family first

  • 1
    April 4th, 2011 04:52

    That’s great — let’s hope he doesn’t get the chop for it, not that he’s going to get elected anyway (perhaps that is really a bonus in terms of party-free speech). It would have been good if Concetta Fierravanti-Wells had done something similar on Q&A last Friday. Instead she brought out the old “they did it too” line about Abbott associating with nutters and she both looked even more uncomfortable than normal and also sounded terrible.

  • 2
    Jeremy Sammut
    April 4th, 2011 07:28

    Andrew, Do you think the issue is so badly handled by politicians who support gay marriage because of the nature of the issue, or is this a sign of just how politically inept the modern day political class is? I think if a PM is up to the job, they should be able to get this across the line.

  • 3
    Andrew Norton
    April 4th, 2011 08:03

    Jeremy – I don’t think this issue has been particularly badly handled. Like any contentious matter, it will take some time to work through the political system. MPs are older, maler and more religious than the general population, all of which sociologically speaking make them more resistant to change. Gillard I think probably does support gay marriage, but does not feel strongly about it and has made a political calculation that is not worth her while at this point. That calculation will change over time. I doubt Robertson would have backed it without his son’s situation.

  • 4
    April 4th, 2011 08:22

    The issue has already come a long way. Most mainstream conservatives in the western world are now supporters of civil unions. I think that would have been unthinkable in the past. The final step towards gay marriage is just a symbolic issue like the republic.

  • 5
    April 4th, 2011 10:21

    For same sex marriage to be properly embedded into law it really needs bipartisan support. That end point is still some way off.

  • 6
    April 4th, 2011 20:53

    I don’t believe that bipartisan support would really be necessary. Aside from the NT euthanasia legislation, I can’t think of any instances of a ‘social reform’ being reversed after implementation. Even in that case, it probably only happened because the reversal came so quickly.

  • 7
    Son of the Ratpack
    April 5th, 2011 07:44

    I doubt Robertson would have backed it without his son’s situation.


  • 8
    Geoff Robinson
    April 7th, 2011 09:13

    Robertson also diverged from Labor on asylum-seeker policy and we had Mark Latham uni grad and electorate officer berating a tradie as out of touch with the working class.

  • 9
    Sacha Blumen
    April 7th, 2011 16:04

    Yes, it was good to see. Personally, it does the political climate a world a good when people in more prominent roles authentically say what they think.

    I think this issue will be properly worked through within a couple of years – firstly through the ALP national conference (which I expect will either support gay marriage or adopt a conscience vote) and then the Coalition (I’d guess a conscience vote). Then the change will happen and people will subsequently wonder what all the fuss was about.