Brandis Defects To The Dark Side to break it to you while you’re still nursing your celebratory hangovers, but I have dreadful news. Sometime, probably in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Australian Attorney General was kidnapped by the lizards from Alpha Centauri and replaced by one of their own.

How else do you explain the stark difference between his statements on Monday, and those of Wednesday? Clearly we are dealing with two different entities. Let’s call them B1 and B2.


B1, pre kidnap, is a moderate. Speaking of the outrageous demands of the delusional conservatives for a Marriage Equality bill stuffed with new forms of discrimination against LGBTI, on Monday he said:

“We are certainly not going to remove one form of discrimination and at the same time instate a new form of discrimination”

“If it’s legally and morally wrong to discriminate against one gay person, I don’t know how it becomes right to discriminate against two.”


B2, however, is a culture warrior. While we were basking in the euphoria of the our landslide win in the “postal survey” (which, may I remind you, returned a 62-38 majority for YES), B2 said Wednesday:

“I will move an amendment to extend the right of conscientious objection to performing a ceremony of marriage from ministers of religion to include civil marriage celebrants as well.”

“I will also move an amendment to make it clear that nothing in the bill makes it unlawful for people to hold and to express the views of their own religion on the subject of marriage.”

One person could not possibly have performed such a dangerous 180 without the seriously endangering their integrity. Ergo, we have an interloper in the Attorney Generals Office.

The suspicion of alien takeover was further strengthened by Matthias Corman (who, as we all know, is actually a Terminator), attempting to make gentle soothing noises, privately terming B2s amendments “cosmetic” and “purely symbolic”.


Sadly, there is only one Brandis. With shredded integrity. No lizards. And he did actually manage to change his mind at the speed of light, incredible though it seems.

He has gone back on his word not to support new discriminations against LGBTI, not because he’s been replaced, but because he has (as the Australian helpfully told us) done a deal with another breed of alien. The DelCons (delusional conservatives like Tony Abbott etc).

It’s all part of the plan to railroad through a Marriage “Equality” Bill, of any kind whatever, no matter how dreadful, in time for Christmas, to make Malcolm look, well, slightly less wet. We’re about to be robbed of our victory.

Never mind that what is now proposed is in fact a Marriage Apartheid measure, handing a big win to the big losers in the postal survey, who by rights shouldn’t have any say in this at all.


Here’s how it was done, according to my sources.

First, the PM had fierce words with Senator Paterson, forcing him to withdraw his dreadful bill. Apparently, Malcolm got a bit cross, something he hasn’t had much chance to do lately. He felt safe letting rip at his most junior Senator. Then the PM made the beast with two backs with the High DelCon, Erica Betz. Don’t worry, he said, we’ll stuff as much of Patersons Bill into Smiths as we can get away with. You will have your religious “protections”.

The young whippersnapper grovelled. Erica stopped praising Patersons bill to the skies, and said the Smith Bill was a good starting point. And in less than 24hrs LGBTI were heading back under the bus where we belong.

B2 was wheeled out to do the dirty deed on the floor of the house. And it’s going to take a big big shovel to clean it up.


Overnight, while we were partying, the Dean Smith Bill has gone from being a bill most people thought we might just be able to live with (though that would have been a mistake), to being one we have to eviscerate or defeat.

Unless a cross-party alliance of pro-LGBTI parliamentarians can hold together and vote down all the religious exemptions: the ones that were there to begin with, and the new ones Brandis is proposing. Herding cats would be easier.

The Greens, assuming they don’t sell out in return for a nature reserve for something cute and endangered, are pretty certain to be on our side. The cross bench are more of a mixed bag. And there are some hairy-toothed Catholics lurking in Labor who would sooner fellate the Pope on his balcony in St Peters Square than pass a Marriage Equality bill.

And although we have a promise from Bill Shorten on record not to let religious exemptions pass, it’s not worth much, given that this will be a conscience vote, with Labor MPs free to vote as they like.

[Question to Bill Shorten 31 March 2016 was]:

“There is a real risk that, when Malcolm Turnbull finally gets around to drafting it, his Marriage Amendment Bill will seek to include new special rights for civil celebrants and other wedding business-providers to discriminate against LGBTI couples. Just to get it on the record: Mr Shorten, will you commit the Labor Party to voting against any attempts to expand religious exceptions beyond existing provisions and, if they do somehow end up being passed and polluting the Marriage Act, will you seek to repeal them at the earliest available opportunity?”

[Shorten’s answer was]: “Yes, and yes.”
Alastair Lawrie

Getting a “clean” Bill through parliament will be a nearly impossible process. Brandis’s defection to the dark side has just made it very much harder.

They say this will be over by Christmas. They said that about World War One as well.

(Apologies of a sort, by the way, for the lack of links: they would all be to the Australian, which is paywalled, so you wouldn’t be able to read them, unless you’re a Murdoch supporter – in which case, you wouldn’t be reading this. Plus, I can’t be arsed doing all the work for you. A hint, there’s this handy thing called Google…)

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)