Page 2934 - Week 08 - Thursday, 17 August 2017

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I caution members. I caution Mr Steel. I caution others about their use of language to make sure that it is respectful in this debate. While there are different views on the Labor side and the Liberal side across Australia, this debate should be nonpartisan.

I make the point—I think this is an important one—that if a plebiscite had been supported in the federal parliament, it is very likely that same-sex marriage would now be law. If the plebiscite, when it was first put to the Australian parliament, had been supported by the Labor Party and the Greens in the federal parliament, this debate, I believe, would have been put to the community in a plebiscite and it would have been successful for the same-sex marriage side. We would have that enacted now.

The reason we are still having this debate, the reason that this debate is still occurring, is a consequence of the ALP and the Greens voting no to a plebiscite some time ago. The date for the plebiscite would have been enacted and I believe it would have been passed in the federal parliament already.

It is untrue, as it has been characterised, that the plebiscite is the route to damnation and is such a terrible thing. Until a year ago—indeed, 16 August last year—the ALP did not have a position on it. The ALP federally did not have a position on whether they were going to support the plebiscite. So it is not true, I do not think it is fair and I do not think it is helpful in the debate to try to characterise the plebiscite as some terrible evil when the ALP federally, less than a year ago, did not have a position on whether or not they would support it.

Indeed, when you go back a little further in time to 2013, Mr Shorten actually actively supported a plebiscite. There are quotes from Mr Shorten when he was speaking to the Australian Christian Lobby. He said:

I would rather that the people of Australia could make their view clear on this, than leaving this issue to 150 people.

I think it is not helpful to the debate that, all of a sudden, once a position is changed—and the ALP has changed its position on this a lot of times—as soon as that change is made then on the moral high ground anyone who does not support it is somehow a bigot and so on. That is the way it has been characterised and that equally is not helpful to the debate.

This matter was before the federal parliament in 2013. I acknowledge that the Greens have had a pretty consistent position on this. But in 2013 there was a private member’s bill that sought to recognise same-sex marriage. That was knocked back by Labor members in the Senate. It would have got up if it were not for that. I have the legislation here from the federal parliament which I can table in the interest of members. The ALP voted no in the Senate. The Senate was—

Mr Barr: There was not a single Liberal vote for—

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