By Mike Welsh

With the SSM debate getting hotter and nastier and, if possible, more blatantly disproportionate, it’s fair to speculate many are clamming up when talk turns to the postal poll. From those that I’ve asked, some are voting “Yes” over “No” for the sake of peace.

A “Yes” vote of course will almost always guarantee acceptance or a tick of approval, but to suggest you may be thinking in the negative will almost always result in vilification. Such is the nature of this argument. This is no longer a debate.


As the SSM postal survey voting papers arrive in mailboxes across Australia, and pictures of “Yes” boxes ticked swamp social media, Tasmanian-born comedian Hannah Gadsby has injected some rare balance and consideration into the divisive debate.

Speaking with 7.30‘s Leigh Sales to promote her new and final (Gadsby is retiring from stand-up) show, the openly gay performer said the same sex marriage debate had made her “tired”, adding “this shouldn’t be happening. To make us subject to a majority vote means we have to prove ourselves worthy and that’s exhausting.”


The 39-year-old, who has just won the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award, says “it’s also unfair for those who oppose gay marriage because the ‘No’ vote comes with a lot of stigma and these people are being dragged out because they know they want to say publicity why they want to vote ‘No’, and their ideas are steeped in ignorance. But what I don’t doubt is what informs their need to say so ‘No’ or speak out and that’s just general concern, and who am I to doubt why people are concerned about what’s happening? Parents are concerned about the way children are taught about gender and sexuality. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s good to be concerned.”

Gadsby said “what’s not right is that it’s placed on me”.

Gadsby likens the vile tone of current debate to her home state of Tasmanian and how she dealt with horrific victimisation at a time when the Apple Isle was radically changing draconian laws on homosexuality. She says we haven’t learnt anything from that time.

Up until now it has appeared that only those with a profile (Wallaby, Israel Folau, being the latest) who dared venture into the “No” zone were viciously targeted.

But following yesterday’s “It’s Ok to say No” rally, organised by Catholic students at Sydney Uni, which turned violent when a much larger “Yes” mob turned up, the issue has escalated into a frightening and wide-spread “game on”. The SMH reports a spokesperson for the Sydney University Catholic Society said “vote ‘No’ campaigners were physically assaulted,verbally abused and repeatedly shouted down.”

The spokesperson said “We were told we cannot be on campus with such beliefs”.

So much for that “respectful debate”, and more importantly, free speech.



By Mike Welsh

Clint Eastwood was the very first person I ever saw on Television. I remember it vividly… in flickering black and white, way past 7.30 on a school night. My squinting and spellbound siblings and I huddled together, our faces just inches from a small screen encased in a large handsome walnut piece of furniture, captivated by an image magically radiating RAWHIDE into our lounge room.clint eastwood 2

The HMV 24 inch had been delivered, unpacked and “warmed up” by two men from the store that afternoon. My father had had a “good result” at the racecourse the previous Saturday and the result for we kids was “Rowdy” Yates.

The hit Western starred Eric Fleming as Gil Favor, the boss of a cattle drive, and a young Clint Eastwood as his softly spoken but deadly serious sidekick, “Rowdy” Yates.

I had of course seen a TV before but never in the comfort of our own lounge room.  We’d been invited to watch by the rich childless people up the road who had the first TV in our street; and had more than once loitered outside the Retravision store in the city which had banks of TVs flickering away in the display window. But now we were legit. We had what was then called a “set”. A TV set.

Clint’s Wagon train quickly rolled on from TV and made him a fistful of Hollywood dollars.

Heartbreakingly though, my contribution to the “box” failed to extend past juggling on the TAA Junior Flyers Club Talent Quest, and when I grew up, a short stint as a TV Weatherman.

These days I just yell at the TV. I suffer from the nasty and modern anti-social habit of Yelling at the TV or YATTV.

A fairy-tale journey which began as a wide-eyed, courteous 10 year old, sitting silently in awe before a  black and white TV watching a whispering “Rowdy” Yates, has, paradoxically transformed  into a full blown case of the modern and largely misunderstood affliction  YATTV.

Comedian Billy Connelly suffers from YATTV. Though in Billy’s defence, his YATTV only materialises while watching Nature programs. And Connelly’s yelling at the TV actually is positive and saves lives.   Apparently he yells to warn gormless Wildebeest happily grazing on the Serengeti Plain, of lions creeping up to eat them in David Attenborough docos.

My YATTV is just negative and futile.

From a bit of harmless “recreational” yelling on a Friday Night at “BT” the Ex- Football meathead now commentator on Channel 7’s AFL coverage, to downright scathing rants Mid-Week at the helpful and useful ABC consumer program “The Checkout”, and the regular smug stabs at Kochie and Karl and Lisa before breakfast.  I’m full spectrum.

My habit has grown to the extent that I now yell at the TV most of the week.

On a recent Monday I knew I had a serious YATTV problem. Early in the night I was able to resist the strong urge to savage Leigh Sales’ choice of blouse, and remain controlled as dear Caroline Jones introduced yet another Australian Story, but I lost all self-control and succumbed to shamelessly sledging the treasured Television Trifecta of Kerry Obrien, Paul Barry and Tony Jones. I had totally lost it.

Scant research into YATTV has revealed little other than that a major section of society also suffers but is in almost completely oblivious.  The most reliable opinion on why we yell at our television apparently involves the creation of the remote control.  Which IMHO has merit.

Back in the day one had to lift one’s fat arse off the couch and slovenly drag oneself across the tortuous acres of wasteland between it and the “set”, and do battle with a large dial in order to change the channel. By the time you’d returned to your spot on the couch you’d lost the urge to yell.

Endowed with a long slender black/grey device, studded with colourful buttons we become GOD.  Constantly pointing and prodding, instantly selecting and dismissing anything which appeals or fails to take our fancy. Threatening and taunting a television as slim as one panel of the cardboard carton out of which our HMV 24 inch magically emerged and almost as large as the room my TV journey began in. Commanding our TV…GO AHEAD Q AND A MAKE MY DAY.

“Rowdy” Yates would be dumbstruck.