The Australian – 26 May 26, 2015
David Crowe (Political correspondent) & Rosie Lewis (Reporter)
Labor will challenge the government to allow a conscience vote on same sex marriage as soon as possible with a formal motion to be lodged on Monday to bring on the vote.
Bill Shorten and Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek intend to force a decision on the vote in the wake of last weekend’s Irish referendum to approve the social reform, sparking calls for similar changes in Australia.
“I have given notice that I will move a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Representatives on Monday which will finally bring about marriage equality in Australia,” Mr Shorten said in a statement.
“I believe the time has well and truly come for the Parliament to debate marriage equality.
“Our current law excludes some individuals – and to me, that is unacceptable.
“It says to them: your relationships are not equally valued by the state, your love is less equal under the law.”
Labor does not have the numbers in the upper house to force the vote to be held but it will challenge the government to allow a conscience vote.
Senior left Labor figure Anthony Albanese has rejected calls from his own faction to have a binding vote on gay marriage, declaring it was “time to get this done” through a conscience vote.
Mr Albanese, whose electorate is the inner-Sydney seat of Grayndler, said his constituents were “overjoyed” at Ireland’s overwhelming vote in support of marriage equality on the weekend but that a conscience vote would be “the most appropriate model” and pragmatic.
“It is now time for Australia to join the nations which have recognised that people should be allowed to marry the person that they love,” Mr Albanese told the Federation Chamber.
“I fail to see how the institution of marriage is weakened if more people have the right to participate. I strongly believe there should be a vote in this Parliament this year. It should be a conscience vote.
“That would enable parliamentarians to have a mature debate in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has declined his frontbenchers a free vote, leading to the defeat of Labor private legislation in 2012.
However, Cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull said he expected parliament to legalise same-sex marriage before the end of the year.
“I have never seen a social issue which has changed attitudes as rapidly as this one,” he said, adding his feeling was that legislation was “very likely to pass”.
Liberal MP Russell Broadbent, who opposes the laws, said he would be in favour of a free vote within his party.
Junior minister Simon Birmingham has flagged Liberal supporters of gay marriage, like him, will make sure the issue is raised in the party room but only “when it is the right time”.
But cabinet minister Ian Macfarlane says same-sex marriage is not a priority issue for the government and he will oppose it based on the views of his conservative Queensland electorate of Groom. Environment Minister Greg Hunt said he would be comfortable with allowing a free vote.
“I think there is a certain history that is evolving here and I think we can all see that emerging,” he said.
Recent polls have put public support for gay marriage as high as 72 per cent.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said it was “wonderful” to see more MPs pushing for marriage equality.
“We don’t really need more bills in the parliament, but we do need more votes,” she tweeted.
Earlier the Greens announced they would bring on a vote for marriage equality in November, with a debate on the party’s same-sex marriage bill to start next month.
“Cupid doesn’t discriminate and neither should the law,” she said.
Adam Bandt, the Greens only MP in the lower house, also questioned the benefits of another same-sex marriage bill.
Labor’s will be the third bill before parliament but the first presented to the House of Representatives.
“Another marriage equality bill? We should be working together, not having duelling legislation,” Mr Bandt tweeted. “We need more votes from Labor, not more bills.”
Marriage equality is the least most important thing on the minds of most Australians at the moment. There are many more important reforms that we need to deal with before we get into marriage equality. This Marriage Equalty Bill is a smokescreen.
This is a distraction because Bill doesn’t know what else to do and Ireland was in the papers recently. Marriage is performed by churches not the government. The latter has registry offices. And compared to Australia’s economy, lesbian and homosexual marriage falls into the Republic basket i.e. ALP leader things to raise as distractions when nothing is going your way.
Boring Bill, who cares, we have massive debt, Isis starting WW3, raping and beheading people and this is the best you can come up with, Pathectic really it is.
Who cares, not many looking at the letters below Bill, wrong bet again I reckon.
Bill gaily pushing the labor cart.
I wonder what the Muslim community feel about it will they be for it or against it I think the latter.
Just another populist policy to cross of in the list to wrest power away from the Greens!
Personally, I think Tony Abbott is more open-minded about homosexual relationships than is Bill Shorten. Bill’s union mates are not exactly gay-embracing. At least Tony has family members whom he accepts.
@Jason I can remember the days when only he-men were allowed on site! Oh, yeah ;o)
A serious question: what happens to these “marriages” when the pendulum of society’s sanity swings back again and same-sex sexual relations are made illegal again? Will the police use the marriage register as a guide who to convict?
@Matthew Certainly a good place to start! Very erudite issue to raise in these ‘socially fashionable but totally tasteless times’.
Well done Bill. This initiative is certainly going to have a major impact on tackling the debt and deficit you guys landed our country in. Another excuse to step away from any real decision making.
Let Bill and Tanya take their new found fondness for same sex marriage to the next election. They can make their case for the next 18 months. At the moment it looks like an rgr thought bubble. Or do they think their best chance is with the bizarre senate now – not taking a risk on the Australian electorate. after all, the Irish took it to the people – and they want us to follow the Irish, don’t they?
This will go down well in Lakemba. There will be some Labor MPs, with their heads in their hands tonight.
@arlys Apparently Husic, Labor’s first Muslim MP, now supports gay marriage. He didn’t earlier but does now, apparently he was just waiting for it to catch on… Go figure, hey! **scratches head** :o/
Of course same sex marriage should be allowed. Why shouldn’t gay people be as miserable as heterosexuals?
@Biggles Now that would be true equality.
A trick from the Gillard playbook – change the subject
This is just a political ploy by Shorten and his gang……he’s trying to regain lost ground on Abbott. Just let a conscience vote happen and get on with governing and sorting out Labors mess.
At the end of the day, I couldn’t care less whether it’s a yes or no to this issue. There are far more important things to worry about.
Yes I’m also concerned enough about something that is not an issue to read an entire article on it and post comments on it. This demonstrated how much of a non-issue it is to me.
I get the feeling that there is more to this whole episode of “equality” and gay “marriage” – I believe it is more a minority trying to force its way through a majority with a lot of apathetic public – it will not stop there – it will then be introduced through media into schools – the minority will push the barrow – “normal people” will be forced to the will of the homosexual and lesbian (1 to 3% of the population) – possibly another Sorry Day. Western values are constantly being debased and this is just another stone being taken out of the wall. Sorry but I cannot and never will accept it
Obviously this is our most pressing issue…
So that’s a top priority for Labor to help our country and it’s debt is it? Talk about getting your priorities right. This is all about saving Tanya Plibersek’s job at the next election. If she hadn’t have got this up she would have lost her seat of Sydney to the Greens next year.
No same sex ‘marriage’ in Australia. The majority of people in Australia DO NOT want it and DO NOT agree with it.
Are ‘we’ doing this because the Irish did it – then let us also adopt the Irish tax rates.
Are we doing this because the NZ did it – then let us also adopt the NZ GST rates.
Then we can be equal.
The difficulty for Tony Abbott is that he can’t justify his position on gay marriage by referring to the promise he made at the last election campaign. If he did try to justify it in this way, his critics would simply cite the multitude of changes he has made to his statements and policies that were then promised, including the paid parental leave scheme.
@Jason You are getting to sound desperate Jason. First you were against his PPL scheme and now you sound like you were for it. Is that just because he has now put it off because we can’t afford it with all of Labor’s debt we have to pay off first?
Let’s not pretend that the ALP is open-minded on gay marriage. The ALP has a very homophobic base to it which consists of certain unions that are not typically open-minded on the issue.
I am sure the Muslim community in Sydney’s west labor held seats will be rejoicing.
@James Will married gays be allowed to run away to ISIL? Would ISIL accept them…would Australia have to take them back after they got cold feet?
The Ummah in Western Sydney wants their marriage aqulity too.
We want our rules of aquality.
Tony Abbott is not homophobic at all. He has been very accepting of family members in this regard and is not homophobic in the slightest. He simply has a philosophical belief in the concept and meaning of marriage.
I have no problems in accepting and making legal gay unions (by the way, they are already legally recognized) but, can we give a different name? If you put a green stuff in a bottle you can’t sell it as Coke or Pepsi because they are trade marks, right? Well, the Jewish Christian culture created marriage and defined as it is today. They created the concept and the name. Why they have to surrender their rights to a minority?
Having say that, this BS move sounds to me as a desperate act trying to recover himself for his budget response disaster.
@Oscar For BS its just a timely distraction for those easily distracted from the main game of government – the economy and wealth creation. In the economy department, BS is not even in the race.
If conservative Ireland voted for gay marriage, why can’t Australia? We must be one of the last Western countries holding out against gay marriage. It’s not a good look. A lot of my overseas friends have remarked about how backward Australia is on this. I try to tell them that Australia is not as homophobic as it might appear to be.
A desperate move by a desperate man. Plibersek has him lined up for knifing if he didn’t do it. After watching parliament today, Shorten has nothing but bile and sarcasm to offer this country. He constantly shows a high level of disrespect to the speaker and to parliamentary procedures. It has been disgusting watching one after the other, labor ministers getting the flick from sitting…representing their constituents. I bet 90% of their constituents do not see their childish behaviour.
Personally I support it and I think most people do and in some ways Labour can be congratulated for pushing this matter through the parliament.
But I don’t believe for one minute that Labours motives are pristine because if this is the only significant (if not economic and only social) policy the labour party can push in parliament at a time of great concern for Australia with a massive dip in terms of trade and appalling productivity figures and huge and mounting sovereign debt because labour refuses to pass any legislation in the senate that would reduce debt….then it shows how weak and pathetic labour is.
They pathetically think this will show up Abbott who personally opposes it. How utterly pathetic.
How could anyone vote for these clowns who are so totally controlled by a bunch of dwindling and highly corrupt trade unions???seriously…..The next federal election will be pivotal for Australia’s economic future.
Not to mention immigration
I agree, Gay people should actually feel a bit insulted for being used as a political wedge, that is all it is.