After 11 years of social divisiveness and conservatism, Team Howard now wants us to believe that they will work to create an equitable and tolerant society – in their fifth term of government.
First, it was John Howard’s semi-hemi-demi-backflip on reconciliation – announcing a constitutional referendum to acknowledge a self-evident fact in our Constitution.
Now, to try to win over the voters in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs that Malcolm Turnbull needs to retain Wentworth, Team Howard is showing signs of movement on rights to public sector superannuation for gay couples.
The obviousness of the Liberal Party’s ploys to win over socially liberal voters can’t be disputed. Howard is trying out announcements that stand diametrically opposed to his decades-old record of being a stodgy old conservative with a very narrow set of social values. He is trying to convince us that his failure to act, or even to appreciate the need to act, on these issues during the past four terms should be forgotten, because in the next three years, it’s all going to change.
It’s too late. And it’s too little:
While the Coalition will not grant gay couples de facto status, or adopt any of the other 58 recommendations outlined in a human rights report in June, it will allow, if re-elected, interdependent gay couples to share each other’s public pensions and super benefits – as heterosexual couples do.
They don’t want to go too far in actually doing these things – they just want to give the impression that they will. But if we have seen how equitable our society is under John Howard, how can we believe that Howard Mk V will be so different?