Page 1761 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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Religions think that they have ownership of marriage. Marriage was around a long time before religions came on the scene, but the religious right have decided that they own it and that only their rules shall apply in these matters. I think it is about time that secular governments in this country sent the religious right a message about their place in this society. Something they ought not be doing is fostering discrimination in our community. And that is what they are onto now. They foster homophobic moods in the community by their utterances in relation to these matters.

I heard Jim Wallace on the radio the other day trying to equate some nutter in Holland marrying a dolphin or something with these laws that were being passed in the ACT. What sort of tub-thumping is that? It is just tub-thumping fundamentalism which tells us all we need to know about that advocate for Christianity. There are progressive Christians who cringe when these people say anything in relation to moral issues.

So it is very clear from what was said in the Senate that Labor was committed to our right to pass legislation in relation to these matters before the election. What has changed? Nothing has changed so far as the ACT is concerned. We are still consistent with what we wanted to deliver, and what we were all signed up to on the Labor side, and the Greens, in relation to this matter. So nothing has changed here. Something has changed in the federal parliament.

I also note that there has been a lot said lately about Gary Humphries crossing the floor in relation to this matter. He was congratulated on what he did. But of course it was never going to make any difference, so he was not in danger of doing Howard any damage. It was well known then that the Family First Party was never going to cross the floor. I know that because I rang his office and wanted to talk to him about this particular issue and the right of this Assembly to make laws in relation to these matters. But he was not available to talk to me.

I know where he stood and I will bet you Gary Humphries knew where he stood too before he crossed the floor. Good on him for doing it in the end; it looked good; but it was never going to make any difference.

I agree with the things that Senator Ludwig was saying in relation to the federal parliamentary Labor Party in 2006. As late as December 2007, after the federal election had delivered our Labor government and Kevin Rudd, the new Prime Minister, he said, in relation to these issues:

On these matters, states and territories are answerable to their own jurisdiction.

I have to say that the heavy-handed threat by the Rudd government this week has turned all of this on its head. And that is why I have this sense of outrage. The problem is, I think—and I have said this to my colleagues—the ACT government folded their tent too early. In effect, they are taking the dump. They are taking the dump for something which Kevin Rudd should be taking the dump for. He should have to explain why he has been hypocritical in relation to this matter. The only way that that can be done is to test him. I believe he ought to have been tested. That is my strong view. He should have been tested on this matter.

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