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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 17 August 2017) . . Page.. 2910 ..


many thousands in our community who do not believe in marriage equality as a concept that part of the reason for their spiralling rates is the government spending money campaigning on a particular position in a federal plebiscite? By all means, wear the “Vote Yes” T-shirt; by all means, wear the rainbow pin; go out into the community in your own time and as an individual campaigner for the yes vote to your heart’s content. But I do not believe that it should be at the expense of ratepayers.

If members of this Labor government are genuinely committed to a bipartisan approach on the ground, if they genuinely want to make this above politics, as it should be, then I would urge them to contact the Liberal members who have publicly indicated that they are voting yes and talk about the possibility of linking up, standing together and explaining why we are voting yes. This is one of the things that I agree with the Chief Minister on. I think it is a very important matter of conscience.

I have been speaking behind the scenes with marriage equality advocates, local and national, over many months about the role that Liberal members can play as individuals in this process, because often we are not preaching to the converted. I have made my position very, very clear on social media and mainstream media and in this chamber and, as a consequence, I can say that I have had dozens of conversations with conservatives who were not quite sure how to vote on this issue, were having second thoughts on it. I have also copped some abuse from some and I am sure I have lost some support from some. But I do not care.

People have a right to vote however they choose in this postal plebiscite. The Canberra Liberals allow their members a free vote on conscience matters, as it should be. We are not the federal Liberal Party. None of the members in this place played any role whatsoever in what played out in the federal parliament. We are not connected to that process and I am sick to death of those opposite trying to link the machinations of federal parliament with us, because they know it has got nothing to do with us.

There is no place for hurtful language or disparaging remarks in this debate. Nobody should feel ashamed because of the way that they feel or the way that they vote in this plebiscite and there is no place for governments to spend ratepayers’ money campaigning on such matters.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (12.30): My support for marriage equality is well known, and I am pleased today to rise in support of the motion moved by the Chief Minister. I am dismayed that this postal survey is going ahead; I really do think it is a very shonky approach to doing politics in Australia and resolving important policy questions. I think there is significant potential for the disenfranchisement of people through this process. I think there is a high likelihood that the question will be twisted and designed in a way to confuse members of the public or to manipulate the likely outcome and I think it is simply cruel and unfair that the status of people’s relationships should be debated in this way.

As Mr Steel very eloquently put it, the federal parliament should do its job. Just as the federal parliament felt comfortable to legislate, when John Howard was the Prime Minister, that the Marriage Act should be defined as it currently is, the federal


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