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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 17 August 2017) . . Page.. 2939 ..

Finally, I will echo in part what Minister Ramsay said before. Having taken heed of the genuineness of Mr Parton’s speech earlier today, both in his support for marriage equality and in wanting to link arms with other supporters, over lunch I contacted Mr Parton and I invited him to the marriage equality community mobilisation forum tonight. I understand it has been communicated directly to Mr Parton that he is very welcome, and I look forward to seeing him there. Like Mr Ramsay, I extend that invitation, and I implore other members in this place, particularly those opposite—and I know that there are more than just Mr Parton, Mr Hanson and Ms Lee who do support marriage equality—to be on the right side and to join the campaign. Come along tonight. To achieve marriage equality, we need as many people as possible who support it to stand together. We need as many people as possible who support it to stand up for human rights, and we need as many people as possible who support it to stand up for humanity.

MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (4.04): To close the debate, I thank all members for their contributions. Should the national debate be conducted in the manner that this one has, it would give some hope that perhaps—just perhaps—we will be able to get through this without too much hurt and damage.

However, I fear that, even in the intervening period between when this debate began with my opening remarks and this closing address, events up on the big hill have demonstrated again just how absurd and hurtful this debate is going to be.

Senator Abetz from Tasmania, who I guess we could call a prominent no campaigner, has gone public with a statement that to allow same-sex marriage would be a step towards allowing people to marry inanimate objects. He suggested that in fact people would seek to marry the Harbour Bridge. He has defended these comments publicly in a further media interview, I understand.

I will nominate that as the most absurd comment of this campaign so far. It might remain at the top of the list of the most absurd things that have been said. I do note, though, that humour is often the best way to respond to these sorts of ridiculous assertions, and although Twitter can be full of a lot of hate, it did produce a response to that particular statement from Senator Abetz that I could not help sharing a small chuckle over. Someone observed that marrying the Harbour Bridge could be difficult, as she, the great Harbour Bridge, does involve a lot of maintenance. I will leave it at that.

Suffice to say, in this debate a range of pertinent issues have been raised, and I think it is appropriate to respond to a couple of those and at least to allay some concerns or fears particularly that are associated with the Leader of the Opposition’s amendment.

In the first instance, the ACT government’s engagement in this process will be to use the time between now and the close of the electoral roll to encourage people who are not on the electoral roll to enrol and to encourage those who are already on the roll to update their address. This will allow them to participate in the non-binding postal survey. I think it is entirely appropriate for the ACT government to utilise our digital

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