Marko the Rat (marko_the_rat) wrote,
Marko the Rat

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[Politics] Campbell Newman: A Nat in Lib's clothing?

(A note to any Americans trying to make sense of this: Yes, our major conservative party (except in Queensland) is called the Liberal Party. This causes Americans some confusion. I am told the Liberal Party was once true to its name, but ever since I've paid attention to politics they have been conservative, and apparently lurching further to the right. Unlike in America, we don't consider the term "small ell liberal" to be an insult, but we are getting there when it comes to "large ell Liberals". ;) The National Party was historically Queensland's major conservative party, but merged with the Liberal Party in 2008 to present a unified front in Queensland.)

It is commonly believed that Campbell Newman was appointed leader of the Liberal National Party by the faceless men behind the LNP because as a former Liberal he would appeal to the urban areas you need to gain government nowadays in this State. (In the Federal sphere, the same accusation is often levelled against the ALP's Julia Gillard, althought it's a mystery who she is supposed to be appealing to. ;) ) But if we want to see who is really pulling his strings, it might be instructive to compare his recent railing at the Civil Partnerships Bill and his promise to repeal it to how the then National and Liberal Parties responded to the last great advance in gay rights in Queensland: the Criminal Code and Another Act Amendment Bill 1990, which decriminalised homosexual activity between two consenting adults.

Mr Kevin Lingard made the National Party's position very clear:
I state emphatically that the Opposition believes that homosexual activity between adults is morally reprehensible. ... It believes that the Parliament should not in any way condone or encourage homosexual activity or homosexual life-style. The Opposition believes that this Parliament should not in any way regard a homosexual relationship as the equivalent of marriage. It believes that this Parliament should not give any recognition in law to homosexual couples. It believes that this House should not encourage any homosexual relationship between adults and that any such relationship should be subject to punishment by the strongest possible criminal sanctions.1

Mr Denver Beanland, the then leader of the Liberal Party, however, had a very different tack:
The Liberal Party has long maintained the tradition that, on moral issues, individuals should maintain the right to hold, express and vote in accordance with their individual views. They should not have to subordinate their personal opinions simply to conform with the views of the majority. ... It was one of those occasions when the Parliament functioned as it was originally intended to function—without the constraints of party discipline.2

Labor, then as now, held a conscience vote on the issue. The Liberal Party followed suit. (Tony Abbott would also do well to take careful note of Mr Beanland's admonitions on Liberal Party tradition as well.) But the National Party did not have the slightest hesitation in voting as a bloc against it. It is too long ago for me to find any references, but it would not surprise me if the National Party also swore to repeal it should they regain power in their own right (they never did).

In spite of his origins, it seems that Mr Newman is taking his cue from the historical National Party rather than the Liberal Party.

1 Queensland Hansard 28 November 1990 p. 5474
2 Queensland Hansard 28 November 1990 p. 5483
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