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Doug Pollard's Rainbow Report airs Thursday 1900-2000hrs AEST Joy 94.9 FM Melbourne Australia, streaming worldwide http://www.joy.org.au/listenlive and via the Joy iPhone app, available free from iTunes. Follow The Rainbow Reporter on Facebook and @rainbowreporter on Twitter. He also edits The Stirrer http://www.thestirrer.com.au. You will find Doug from time to time on the Drum, Crikey, and wherever else he can earn a crust. But wherever you find him, the opinions belong to him and not to the platform he's standing on.

Wong Way – Go Back

August 7th 2008 06:33
Penny Wong
Penny Wong
Penny Wong has come in for some flack over her remarks about gay marriage on the ABC last week. As the second most senior female, and most senior gay person in the government, she looked uncomfortable at being publicly reminded she was, in fact, gay, and ended up parroting the government line about gay marriage being opposed by the vast majority of the Australian public.


In fact, all available stats indicate that the issue is, at worst, finely balanced, with roughly equal numbers for and against, with some polls flagging a majority in favour. As a cabinet minister she is obliged to toe the party line, but with a bit of finessing she could have indicated that, although forced to do just that, her true sentiments were otherwise.

One is reminded of the formulation used by the great Francis Urquhart in “House of Cards” – ‘You might say that, but I couldn’t possibly comment.’ However, she lacks either the wit or the will – or maybe both – to come up with an equally telling formulation.

It’s not surprising – she is a monumentally dull public performer, a real backroom policy wonk.

The venom directed at her from gay advocates should not surprise her. After 11 years of the Howard government, in which we were never spoken to at all if it could possibly be avoided, suddenly we have a seat at the cabinet table, occupied by a minister who refuses to act on our behalf.


She tries to ignore the fact that she’s a woman, of Asian extraction, and gay, as if she is operating in some pure meritocratic vacuum. One can understand why – she wants to be taken on her merits rather than be seen as ‘the asian minister’ or ‘the lesbian minister’.

She’s reputed to be formidably clever and focused – but not, it would seem, clever enough, to be all she could be, which would be all the above, at the same time.
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Comment by danmeek

August 8th 2008 01:09
It is really disappointing to see both yourself and Sam Butler piling onto Minister Penny Wong. Do you really believe she should publicly disagree with cabinet, get herself kicked out of cabinet as a result, and end up arguing her case from the sidelines? Assuming it's her case in the first place - she might, like many gay people, not actually believe in marriage in the first place. I do not believe you are so naive and it is disappointing to see you playing to the peanut gallery on this issue.

Comment by Doug Pollard

August 8th 2008 04:20
No, I'm saying that IF she's as clever as she's painted, and IF she wanted to, she could do both, in a subtle fashion.
A mate of mine was a very ambitious businessman in the construction industry, a notably homophobic environment. He always argued that by keeping his nose clean, working hard, and saying nothing about his sexuality, he could get to a position of power and make changes from within. This was in the early 1970's.
Well, by the end of the century he made it, he was a board director of one of the biggest construction companies on the world, and he did jack shit.
He finally came out after he retired and started his own business.
This 'change from within' argument that ambitious people always put up is a crock, and a delusion they comfort themselves with.
I have a major problem with our own people colluding in the maintenance of our second-class for the purposes of their personal advancement.

Comment by Anonymous

August 8th 2008 09:32
Completly agree Douglas, Keep it up!

If all the poofs & dykes in major positions actually came out and did something for the community we would be in an ever better place legally than we are.

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