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The Huntress vs. The Headline: “Julia Gillard Makes Stand As Social Conservative”

March 21, 2011

I want to be surprised that Australia’s latest Prime Minister is a cultural conservative, but somehow I am not. I had vague hopes that as a recipient of social progression our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard (a female Prime Minister! Really, it’s enough to make one drop one’s cucumber sandwich!), would have wanted to offer a bit of social progression to other well deserving groups. As seen here in today’s article in The Australian it would seem that my hopes are too high.

The two particular issues highlighted are gay marriage and euthanasia. While marriage and euthanasia are worlds apart, it seems Gillard has bound them together with the use of ‘The Bible’. Gillard believes that (while she is an atheist) ‘The Bible’ forms an important part of our culture and that western literature has been built upon bible stories. Maybe our Prime Minister would benefit from her cultural traditionalist ideology for a moment and be a good woman, stay home, have babies and wash dishes while this discussion takes place. Just a thought utilising her own attitudes of course.

Why is it so important to our culture that marriage must remain exclusive between a woman and a man? Personally, I cannot find an answer to that question. I do not believe my own marriage to Mr. Huntress is any more exclusive or special than anyone elses marriage . I was talking to some friends who got married not long before I did – they got married in New Zealand and had a candle lighting ceremony. I know they had a candle lighting ceremony because I said I didn’t want one at my wedding and we had a lovely discussion about what is important and meaningful for one couple may not be for another. What was important and meaningful to both of us was that we had the pleasure of marrying the people we love. The only big difference we discussed about our weddings (other than candle lighting ceremonies) was that I was not forced to marry my chosen partner in New Zealand for it to be official. Oh, and my piece of paper is recognised as being official by our government, whereas theirs is not. Only because I’m a woman who married a man. Not a woman who married a woman. I can’t help but wonder that if I buy them a penis to carry in a handbag everywhere they go it will change things – that’s the only thing that I have extra in my marriage that they don’t.

You must admit penis’s are kind of ugly anyway, I can understand why these ladies choose to omit theirs.

Gillard also admits in her stance that she can understand the want for choice by those who are in the end stages of their life, however does not feel there are enough safeguards in place in the policies that have been proposed by pro-euthanasia advocates.

I feel like I’ve missed a step. Has she forgotten that euthanasia was legalised in the Northern Territory (Rights of the Terminally Ill Act) in 1995 until Howard stepped in at a Federal level to repeal the Territories legislation with the Euthanasia Laws Act in 1997? The Northern Territory had many safeguards in place to ensure euthanasia wasn’t abused or utilised by those it’s not intended for. In a nutshell the signatures of three separate doctors had to be obtained to agree that the patient had an incurable, terminal illness and was not suffering a treatable, clinical depression. That’s a pretty big safeguard for one person who wishes to legally access their right to die. Here is an article that condenses a timeline for euthanasia laws in the Northern Territory and if you scroll to the bottom there is an open letter written by the second woman who accessed euthanasia legally under the Northern Territory legislation.

I have also written to Exit International asking if they can point me in the right direction to a lecture given by Philip Nitschke about euthanasia in the Northern Territory. I heard it back in 2001 and it is a wonderfully sharp, witty and informative piece – I shall make it available here when I track it down.

So now I’ve got down from my little soap box I shall hand it back to Julia Gillard. Or she can keep standing on her bible, if she so chooses. I prefer the soap box – it doesn’t reek of prejudice in the heavily scented guise of cultural tradition.


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  1. Steph B permalink

    Fully support both euthanasia and gay marriage 🙂 While it may be against the religion of some, that does not take away a persons right to make their own choice about their own lives! Personally I would not like to waste away dying slowly and painfully of an incurable disease. I would like to die painlessly with all my loved ones around me. We do it for our pets why not for ourselves?

    Also I would love to attend my best friend’s gay wedding when he finds that special someone 🙂 I can think of no other more joyous occasion than celebrating the love of two people!

  2. Chris permalink

    I’ve always thought it strange that as much as politicians love to talk about “multiculturalism in Australia” they are always so willing to fall back on an argument which is having less and less cultural significance and claim it the right thing to do…

    Oh, and I got tired of the word “multicultural” being bandied around to the point of it losing any actual meaning. So, I looked at Australia, and came up with a new meaning, which is unfortunately all too true.

    Multicultural: Groups of distinct and different cultures, living in close proximity to each other, neither understanding nor accepting one another and maintaining a state of deep and unwarranted suspicion towards one another.

  3. Kate permalink

    I do like the irony of Gillard, the atheist, spouting the Bible. However, this would be largely aimed at the constituency, which ties in with the creeping fundamentalism into our society. However, Gillard’s point on the nature of the Bible being a cornerstone of Western society is valid. Have a read of Australian historian John Hirst’s book, The Shortest History of Europe, which breaks down Western civilisation and culture into three constituent parts, one of which being the Bible.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you in the gay marriage, particularly because Mum and Rikki did exactly what you described. The discrimination they face as a result is disgraceful in this day and age.

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