Looking beyond the current groundswell for same-sex marriage, Steven Barnes points out for our future in the region, Barnaby Joyce’s recent comments makes sense.



As the same-sex marriage movement continues to gain traction in Australia, there are renewed calls to consider the economic and political implications of such a move. In particular, the recent comments made by Barnaby Joyce as he pointed out the potential to hurt relations in the South East Asia by changing the marriage equality act.

“I think that what we have to understand is that when we go there, there are judgments, whether you like it or not, that are made about us and there they see in how we negotiate with them, whether they see us as – whether they see us as decadent.”

Despite the potential to damage ties the Asian market, inaction is as potentially as harmful as action, particularly with our main allies, the US. Recent changes to the American constitution have recently lead to nationwide acceptance of same-sex marriage in the US, and praise from pro-same-sex marriage supporters online and condemnation for countries that have not followed suit.

This comes as Tony Abbott dismissed recent developments in America & Ireland standing by his stance on same-sex marriage telling reporters in Melbourne:

“What happens in the United States is obviously a matter for the United States, just as what happened in Ireland a few weeks ago is a matter for the Irish…Obviously there is a community debate going on, I have views on this subject which are pretty well known and they haven’t changed.’

This vast divide of opinion between many in America and Australia comes as a rare roadblock between the two nations, who’s relationship has grown closer, especially in the increased deployment of military materiel on our shores with Barack Obama telling reporters after his meeting with the Prime Minister:

“There are a handful of countries in the world that we always know we can count on. Not just because they share our values, but we know we can count on them because we know they’ve got real capacity. Australia’s one of those countries”

With these comments coming last year and the differing views of the two countries views on this issue today, some speculate that our Asian relations are financially much more viable for Australia and makes more sense for the future of the country.

With two-thirds of exported goods being taken by Asian nations, accepting same-sex marriage could potentially hurt one of Australia’s greatest trade allies and potentially cause financial ruin for the country, hence Barnaby Joyce’s comments. Despite our exports being largely tied to the Asian market, there has been significant slowdown of growth according to The Australian with export and import growth falling seven percent in since the September quarter in 2014.

Regardless of this, moves into the Chinese and Asian markets are pushing ahead with the government in negotiations to help build the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Speaking on Channel 10, Mr. Hockey quoted:

“We should help to make sure it has proper governance principles that is actually delivering the infrastructure necessary to grow the economy of the Asian region which in turn helps us”

This move directly pits Australia’s view against the US who have been in direct opposition to the proposal claim due to claims China is using loans to help spread their global influence.

Coupled with the refusal to legalise same-sex marriage, it could potentially be an issue to harm the relationship between Australian and the US, especially when the drama between the US and China becomes increasingly strained, perhaps even culminating in a decision where we have to pick either side of the fence.

So facing condemnation from the West, or destitution from the East. On the surface, it’s a lose-lose proposition, future proofing the economy by ignoring the future of the people.

However, politically, in choosing our future allies, the Abbott Government is choosing smart.



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