8 March 2004

Howard attacks ACT gay adoption law

Mr Howard said he had examined the ACT laws and said he opposed any bill of rights, as it could lead to limits on individual freedoms.

'I think the idea of the ACT having a bill of rights is ridiculous. If you're going to have things like that, they should be done on a nationwide basis,' he told the John Laws radio program.

'This is political correctness inside the Labor Party parading itself for all the world to see.'

He said he did not support gay adoptions.

'I don't support gay adoption, no,' Mr Howard said.

'I'm against gay adoption, just as I'm against gay marriage.

'I think there are certain benchmark institutions and arrangements in our society that you don't muck around with.

'Children ideally should be brought up by a mother and a father who are married. That's the ideal.'

This strikes me as more of the tin ear the Man of Steel's developed recently. Unlike the US we do not have a large religious right devoted to these sorts of issues and I'm not sure what the prime minister is trying to achieve. The government cannot pass an bill to override the ACT legislation without the support of the minor parties and independents in the Senate. Labor and the Greens have already said they'll oppose an overriding bill. The Democrats are unlikely to be far behind. The prospect of an override is zip and if the government goes ahead they'll set up another Latham beats Howard scenario.

Howard leads Australia's federalist party. The concept that only national legislation can or should provide for human rights sits fairly strangely with his lifelong commitment to federalism. Further, he's simply wrong. Each US state has its own bill of rights. Several Canadian provinces have provincial charters to complement the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Man of Steel really needs a new argument. I'm not sure his endless repetition of political correctness as the catchall critique is doing a lot for his political standing. Certainly this speech did little to show him as an original thinker or even an especially well-informed one.

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