I never thought I’d say this, but thanks, Cory Bernardi.

And thanks Eric Abetz and Victorian senator I’d never heard of before Thursday, Bridget Mackenzie.

Because apparently many Australians are only just waking up to the fact that the much-talked-about-but-not-actually-scheduled-yet plebiscite on marriage equality is, and always has been, completely pointless.

It has never been more than a PR exercise, a massive waste of time and money with no guaranteed government action whatever the outcome happens to be.

Now that Abetz, Bernardi and Mackenzie have declared they won’t support same-sex marriage no matter what the public says, all they’ve done is make the pointlessness of the plebiscite more obvious. They’re actually doing us all a favour.

Thanks to this dynamic trio, Australians are finally starting to understand: even if the theoretical outcome of the theoretical plebiscite showed majority public support for legalising gay marriage, our elected officials would still vote against it. Democracy, eh?

Bernardi told Sky News a plebiscite was “a glorified opinion poll”; he’s right of course, given that no commitment has ever been made to act on the outcome of the vote. They might as well replace the ballot boxes with wheelie bins and get voters to put their slips straight in. How many paper recycling skips can you hire for $160 million?

God knows why Cory Bernardi is still against the idea of gay marriage anyway; his main concern seemed to be that it would result in people doing lewd things with dogs, and thanks to Mitchell Pearce’s home video this week we all now know it’s not a prerequisite.

(By the way, speaking of Pearce, maybe we should give him a break. I mean, given he allegedly urinated on a couch and slobbered all over a woman before thrusting himself at that poodle, is it possible he thought he WAS a dog?)

With all the pollies too scared to make a move on gay marriage lest they lose conservative votes, the desire to uphold inequality for homosexual Australians seems to stem not from rational thought but from some sort of ethereal inner feeling, I imagine a bit like indigestion. As iconic Aussie film The Castle put it, it’s “the vibe”.

For Bernardi, it’s his “core beliefs” and “inner moral compass” that dictate his desire to stop people marrying who they love.

“Those who are saying I should suspend my core beliefs, my inner moral compass, because of the populist will or the result of a plebiscite are asking me to be held to a different standard they don’t hold themselves to,” he told Sky News.

For Mackenzie it’s her “conscience”, as she announced during a press conference on Thursday. Well she didn’t so much announce it as awkwardly try to avoid the question for 60 seconds before admitting that yes, er, um, she’d vote against gay marriage, no matter what her constituents wanted.

She’s very firm in her personal belief that gay people shouldn’t have the same rights as everyone else, you see.

This, of course, is crap. Politicians shouldn’t decide how the country is governed based on their “inner moral compass” or their “conscience”. Where would that leave us, with people such as Bernard Finnigan, jailed for child pornography, and Craig Thomson, convicted of theft?

Frankly, we don’t want politicians like that making decisions at all, but certainly not ones based on their moral beliefs.

Politicians should follow the will of the people who voted for them.

Hell, they should at least consider it — especially if we’re paying $160 million for the privilege.


First published in The Advertiser, January 30, 2016. CLICK HERE to read the original article.