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How the postal survey is threatening the Aussie meaning of mateship

The marriage equality vote has started to turn mates against each other, writes Billy Cotsis

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02 October 2017

Mateship is what Australia has always been about. I grew up at the tail end of overt racism but I still hankered for the term mateship in our country. I yearned for a game of cricket in my neighbourhood or kicking a footy around with total strangers to the point we all became mates. Our country has had dark moments, though mateship is an element that always makes us great. From our support of drought stricken farmers to fallen mates on a battlefield, Australia knows what mateship is about.

This marriage law postal survey which is now wasting $140 million of our taxes (includes High Court challenges and other incidentals) and is non-binding, has started to turn mates against each other. I am saddened by it all and disgusted that a poor Communications Minister who failed me and the nation on the republic issue in 1999, is THAT gutless that he couldn't go to our elected parliament to have a vote; nor could he at least make it a skinny timeframe and one that was binding. No, Malcolm, who just scraped into power by a party coalition and one seat, is making sure society is essentially at war with itself because he cannot be true to himself. His legacy will be divisiveness and more than 30 Newspoll failures, guaranteed.

I like my friends and respect their opinions when informed. I will not get angry with them whichever box they tick as long, especially if, they are informed. However, we have bigger issues to worry about in society, yet we turn this into our big play at being a democratic decision-making agora. Hospitals, education, roads, environment, Indigenous health, DOMESTIC (FAMILY) VIOLENCE, drugs, gambling. The list goes on and a list that needs to be addressed and we could be talking about them all. Have our leaders sat in traffic in Sydney? Go on, I dare you. We will have six million people by 2028, have you planned for that?

I'm disappointed people who know each other and should care about each other, as well as total strangers, are now virtual enemies. Virtual because keyboard warriors have become the norm. If New Zealand invaded us tomorrow, I would be scared to sit in the trenches with most warriors who seem to have forgetten about mateship. Even more scared than the All Blacks running at me.

And never forget commercial media is enjoying this as it generates ratings and readership. Ask yourself, how much do they love this issue, how much mileage are they getting?

Australia, like most countries, has struggled with equality during its existence, and despite the racism I copped in the 1980s and 90s, I always believed in mateship. I love our nation but I am disturbed by this postal survey. Look at how badly Hellenes have struggled to be united over the last 2,800 years. We always ended up fighting each other.

I hope Australia can learn from this episode and I hope too that the prime minister fades into obscurity. I dislike his predecessor who I dare not name but at least everyone knows what he stands for. Same goes for Bill Shorten, he sticks to his beliefs, as opposed to our PM who should look at himself in the mirror and reflect. He should reflect on his failures with NBN, republican movement, his lies about Kevin Rudd, his failings as opposition leader and now his failings on mateship. The biggest loser in this whole mess, mateship.

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