Same Sex Marriage Speech
December 6, 2017
I rise to speak on the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill.
The 2016 election saw, for the first time, an Australian government elected with a mandate to provide a path to marriage equality.
We now find ourselves one step away from the end of that path.
The postal survey is the reason we are at this point today.
I believe it was the right direction for us to take to bring about such significant social change, giving ownership of the decision not to some 226 politicians in this place but to all Australians to have their say.
The leadership from Tony Abbott whilst he was Prime Minister on the policy to hold a plebiscite on this very important social change continued under the leadership of Prime Minister Turnbull, and both of them must be commended for their leadership.
With a national turnout nudging 80 per cent, this process we undertook has now been vindicated.
The scare campaign from those opposite and their assorted friends on the Left about a divisive and vitriolic debate did not come true.
So I thank the Australian public for having their say on this very important issue.
Despite their enthusiastic embrace of this result, it should be noted that those opposite opposed the bill to conduct the plebiscite in the first place.
And, despite their rhetoric this week and leading up to this week, we must not forget they did precious little to advance this cause during their time in government.
Very disappointingly, they are paying lip service to conscience by denying their members a free vote on amendments.
The Australian Labor Party does not occupy the moral high ground on this issue, despite their posturing.
History will show it was this side of the parliament that brought about same-sex marriage.
It is right and proper that this institution is extended and strengthened under the coalition, and I extend my welcome to all same-sex couples around Australia who can now, upon the finalisation of this bill, have their relationship recognised and registered by the state as a union between two people, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
We have heard much about the amendments that will be introduced in the House relating to a variety of matters, such as having multiple definitions of marriage, conscientious objection by civil celebrants, the right to freedom of expression and protections for that expression, protection of charities, shields against detrimental conduct by public officials and protections for parents' rights to withdraw their children from certain classes.
I am particularly concerned about parental rights in a school setting being protected, and I do look forward to the introduction of amendments that address those concerns.
While the public may expect us to get on with the job of legislating same-sex marriage—and I expect that will happen well and truly before Christmas, by the end of this week—they also expect us to keep delivering all other facets of good government.
I look forward to continuing to do so.
The electorate of Durack's participation rate in the postal survey was the lowest turnout in Western Australia, which I do believe shows that, although this is an important issue in my electorate, it is not necessarily a top-order issue, and I do respect that and respect the people in Durack.
Turnout in Durack was lowest amongst those aged 18 to 24, with only 53 participating in the postal survey.
Interestingly enough, participation increased through each age group, with those aged 65 and over having the highest turnout, with some 83 per cent.
I think this tells us that there were a large number of older Australians in my electorate of Durack who voted yes.
I think a lot of people would be very surprised at that, given the demographics of Durack or what people expect of the demographics of Durack.
I personally voted yes in the postal survey and will do likewise when we vote on this bill.
I do so with the backing of the majority of Australian respondents, a majority of Western Australian respondents and a majority of respondents in my electorate of Durack, with some 59 per cent of those who voted voting yes.
Back in 2015, the town of Port Hedland passed a local law to use its limited legislative power to formally recognise same-sex unions.
You wouldn't expect a town in the Pilbara to pass such local laws or to be so progressive, given it's dominated by its harsh landscape and wall-to-wall fly-in fly-out workers, so I congratulate them on that.
The first Hedland couple who took the opportunity to have their relationship formally recognised were my friend Gloria and her partner, Nicki.
With the passing of the same-sex marriage legislation this week, Gloria and Nicki will be able to be legally married.
I know that will be a very happy day and I will be the first to congratulate them. I commend this bill to the House.