19 April 2012


The results of the 2010 federal election were illuminating in many ways, not least of which was the fact that the Australian Labor Party (ALP) was losing support and popularity, the Coalition was not faring much better, and the Greens were the party that gained most in the election.

The Labor Party was only able to form government after it reached agreements with some independents and the Greens, who, for the first time, gained a seat in the lower house and gained the balance of power in the upper house, the Senate.

What this is leading up to is the fact that Batman, a long-time Labor-held seat in the northern suburbs of Melbourne had always had the biggest margin of any Labor seat in Australia. This all changed in the 2010 election when the Greens substantially reduced that margin and showed that with some more resources and some greater pressure, Martin Ferguson's stronghold could be at the end of its road.

Ferguson was for some years involved with the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) in New South Wales, after which he became the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). He left that to become the Labor federal member for Batman, a seat he has now held for many years.

To digress briefly, in 2011 the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) suddenly decided that there were some Jewish people who were gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV (GLTH) members of the Victorian communities, and decided to ask for submissions from them as to what they required of the JCCV to assist them as Jews who might be suffering from discrimination and other forms of abuse from the Jewish communities in Victoria.

The result of their request for submissions, to be assessed by a sub-committee in the JCCV (who were supposedly chosen for their connections to, and experience with, GLTH members of the Jewish communities in Victoria), was that they received a total of five submissions and this sub-committee then issued a report, at last naming members of this sub-committee which had demanded secrecy because they feared intimidation from GLTH people!!!!!

Back to Martin Ferguson, who, at the request of members of the ALP and Greens, was supposed to do a survey of his constituents to find out what their attitude to same-sex marriage was, and then to report back to parliament.

Now anybody can skew results to suit their agendas and Ferguson appears to have done just that.

A report issued during the week of 18 April 2012 which may or may not be a media release from Ferguson's office stated that Batman had bucked the trend by opposing changes to the Marriage Act.

Now here is the nitty gritty of the statement: Ferguson is not releasing the number of respondents or percentage breakdown of his survey.

Batman has a large GLTH community and those of us who live in this federal seat of Batman have by and large generally not encountered hostility, homophobia, unpleasantness or other manifestations of opposition.

We challenge Ferguson to produce the results of his survey and to show how much of the opposition he is quoted as talking about comes from religious groups opposed to homosexuality, not to mention same-sex marriages.

Ferguson's position on many issues is open to question, such as his support for nuclear energy, for uranium export, for brown coal export, and his own stand on same-sex relationships is an indication of his general conservatism on many issues.

Hopefully at the next election, Ferguson will no longer represent the voters of Batman and we will have someone in the federal parliament who is actually a political progressive.

Just don't hold your breath!!

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Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm