It was 2017, and the debate surrounding the same-sex marriage plebiscite was polluting the daily news. Articles of support and opposition were rampant, and insults flew from all angles. It was the question on everyone’s mind: are homosexuals entitled to the same government interference in their relationship’s legitimacy as heterosexuals are? It is with this vitriolic and, quite frankly, bizarre media backdrop that this sad story takes place. The day Andrew Laming blocked me from his life. Oh, cold dagger to my heart, will you ever accept me back to the fold?
It all started with a sponsored post being advertised on my Facebook news feed, from none other than Laming’s professional page. He was boasting about how he had heard the cries of his constituents, and pledged to vote YES in the upcoming vote in Parliament. Well, good on him for doing what should’ve been done in the wake of the 2016 election, gold star. The Coalition government, under Abbott’s… uh, I mean Turnbull’s strong leadership, was set to pass the historic legislation that would legally recognise same-sex marriage.
Well, I was impressed. My Federal MP, probably using taxpayer funds to promote his social media posts, actually trying to take credit for this momentous occasion. Daft man, his Party’s handling of this rather sensitive topic was a complete shamble from start to finish and he didn’t even realise. I tagged a friend of mine to let him know that $122 million was wasted on a fundamentally flawed postal plebiscite, as we had joked about it previously. Lo and behold, Andrew himself responded to my comment, seemingly questioning my political motives and, get this, another boast! Great value, he said. Apparently not even a whole $100 million was spent, making one wonder what they spend all this leftover cash on? Something valuable I bet.
But alas, I could not leave his ignorance unattended. I had to do something to help him understand why the plebiscite was the weak man’s option. And so I schooled him on my Party preferences (he somehow thought I was a friend of Labor), and on his Party’s shameful actions throughout the whole debate. I even name dropped Abbott, Bernardi, and a few other straight white Christian gentlemen for good measure. Expecting a retort, I went about my day relishing in my democratic right to consult with our local Member of Parliament. When I got home, however, news was dire. My comments had been deleted, and I no longer had permission to interact with Andrew Laming’s posts. What a cruel stroke of fate. Barred from being able to express my thoughts of an elected representative through the medium of shit talking.
Honestly? I couldn’t care less whether I am blocked from a politician’s social media, especially when the one in question so openly despises his own constituents and censors his own online presence to foster a positive image of himself and his garbage Party. No, the human inside would be pleased to avoid any interaction with the man if possible. But the cynic in me sees this as a prime example of Australia’s slow dip into the US mould. There is a clear divide between the opinions of the American populace and their leader’s policies, and this pattern has been revealing itself more and more here in Australia.
The same-sex marriage plebiscite was a relatively minor case of this, but it does well to illustrate the disdain those in power have towards the people they supposedly serve. The clear decision was to have Parliamentary vote immediately after the election had been won. The public’s opinion was already known to be over 70%; the government didn’t need to gauge it, they just had to look at any poll that had already been carried out. This was simply a case where the government was at odds with the public, and they intentionally sowed division between people over such a basic topic.
So that’s the story of how I had my first, and last, interaction with my Federal Member of Parliament. Part of me wants him to unblock me, but I am sure I will find myself hit with the ban hammer again quite swiftly. One can dream, though, right?