Page 2902 - Week 08 - Thursday, 17 August 2017

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those who are voting no as well. Whether views have a foundation in philosophy, in culture, in religion, in ethnicity or in sexuality, we should be respectful in this process. This postal vote is a rare opportunity to have such a survey of views. It is inevitable that many Australians will want to participate in this public debate, and this is a good thing. As citizens of Australia enrolled to vote, each member of the ACT Assembly, like all other voters in Australia, will have an opportunity to have our say.

The Canberra Liberals do not support the expenditure of ACT taxpayer resources for an ACT government campaign advocating for either side of this debate. I do not think that it is right that the resources of government, collected through household rates, payroll, parking fees, land tax and other sources, be used by the ACT government to conduct a campaign for changes to the commonwealth Marriage Act. I would also not support such expenditure on a campaign advocating for the other side of this debate.

With the ACT government formally weighing in to this debate, the onus will be on the ACT government to make sure that their actions are not felt as intimidation or bullying, most obviously by people from minority ethnic and faith communities. Through the ACT government’s support for one side of this debate, I believe that the Chief Minister is putting public servants in a very difficult situation. Will the Chief Minister, or any other minister, assign public servants with tasks to support the yes campaign? If so, I believe this may be a breach of section 5 of the Public Sector Management Act—that is, “to maintain an apolitical public service”.

The ACT government, by “joining and actively participating in the campaign to achieve marriage equality” is, I feel, politicising the public service. I believe it is wrong to use the resources of government for such a campaign. If a public servant objects, perhaps on conscientious grounds, what guarantees are there that this will not limit their career progression or lead to disciplinary action? Even if someone is permitted to object to such tasks, how will they be able to do so without having to make public what their personal views are? This government risks intimidating public servants as part of this process, and it must be very careful not to do so.

I call on Canberrans to participate in this survey. I also call for all contributions to the debate to be respectful and to be respected. In doing so, I move the following amendment that has been circulated in my name:

Omit all words after “notes that”, substitute:

“(a) the Treasurer, under the Commonwealth Census and Statistics Act 1905, has directed the Australian Statistician to request statistical information from all Australians on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll, as to their views on whether or not the law should be changed to allow same sex couples to marry; and

(b) within the Canberra community, there is a diversity of opinions on the subject;

(2) supports the belief that all Canberrans, regardless of their views, culture, ethnicity, faith or sexuality, should be treated with respect and that contributions to the debate should be respectful; and

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