THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
WEDNESDAY, 15 NOVEMBER 2017
SUBJECT: Marriage equality.
PRESENTER: On the line, we actually have Deputy Opposition Leader of the Labor Party, who's been in the game since '98 and has campaigned for the removal of discrimination against same-sex couples in federal legislation in the past. We welcome Tanya Plibersek. Hey Tanya, how's it going?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Terrific. It's really great, I've just been at Prince Alfred Park where there's a big party underway. Lots of music, lots of people celebrating, picnicking, enjoying the beautiful Sydney weather and just making the most of this historic day.
PRESENTER: Yes, absolutely so much to celebrate about just the fact that there are so many Australians that are behind the LGBTIQ community, for marriage equality and just so much other stuff. It just means so much and you're right, it is definitely a historic day.
PLIBERSEK: Look I'm so happy that it was a Yes vote, but I kind of had high expectations that it would be a Yes vote because we've seen so many surveys over so many years say that the Australian community is ahead of the political class on this, that Australians have been ready for marriage equality for years. But I was surprised by the size of the Yes vote. It's a very strong endorsement of the Yes campaign. Particularly in the face of a lot of misinformation from the No campaigners, trying to get people diverted into arguments about free speech and what's going to be taught in schools and making it about every other issue other than marriage equality. Well people saw through that, and they know that this is just about the simple proposition that all Australians should be equal before the law.
PRESENTER: Yeah, and I think it's really important also to recognise that conservatives of the Liberal Party are really pushing for religious protections, which seems to be so abstract from what the original question was all about. It seems like a lot of efforts are going into stalling Yes from making it through.
PLIBERSEK: You're so right. The opponents of marriage equality, the same people who made us spend $122 million on this wasteful and divisive plebiscite, have now got a list of other delaying tactics. They've come up with a new bill, they want to amend the bill that's being introduced into the Senate today. They will try and delay and obfuscate, and the Parliament should absolutely, resoundingly reject that and get behind the consensus bill that's being introduced today. There's a marriage equality bill that's been through a complicated Senate inquiry process, it's got the support of Labor, Liberals, Nationals, Xenophon, Greens. All of the political parties have signed off on it. It does have protections, it says very clearly that churches won't be forced to marry anyone against the teachings of their church and that religious celebrants, a new type of celebrant, won't be forced to marry people against their religious views. But the idea that we now have to bring into this all sorts of other arguments about religious freedoms is absolutely wrong. This is a simple proposition: should two people who love each other, a man and a man or a woman and a woman, be able to marry each other. If you say yes, then this bill should pass by Christmas.
PRESENTER: So, in terms of those religious protections that are coming through on the Smith bill, what's your stand on that or what's your position?
PLIBERSEK: I think churches shouldn't be forced to marry people against the teachings of the church. Nobody is saying that they should. I mean, there's been a dozen private members' bills and all of those bills have been explicit that if you're talking about a church, then they get to continue to teach and preach whatever they've taught and preached in the past. But if you're talking about a cake shop or a florist, then anti-discrimination laws should properly apply. You shouldn't be able to discriminate against people because of their race or their gender or their sexuality or their gender identity. Those protections are basic in anti-discrimination law in Australia and they should be upheld.
PRESENTER: Yes absolutely. And I think people should not, as you've already said, people should not be able to discriminate based on things such as cakes or anything like that. But just coming back quickly to the religious celebrants. So in the past, I don't really understand because this legislation hasn't been required, if you know what I mean?
PLIBERSEK: Yeah that's right.
PRESENTER: So my understanding is, why do we need to have religious protections in any sense of the word for the Smith bill?
PLIBERSEK: Well because the whole way through, a commitment has been made to churches, to ministers of religion that they wouldn't be forced to marry people against the teachings of their faith. So where you've got religious celebrants, then it's fair enough not to make them break the teachings of their faith. What we don't want in the usual provision of goods and services, the pub that's going to cater your reception or the florist that's going to do your flowers or the photographer or the driver who's going to drive you to the ceremony; to be able to say I don't agree with marriage equality so I'm not participating. That's just beyond the pale, and we wouldn't accept that if the question was one of race, and we wouldn't accept that if the question was one of gender. We shouldn't accept it when it's about sexuality or gender identity.
PRESENTER: 100 per cent agree. Now, do you expect the bill to sail through Parliament as Malcolm Turnbull stated?
PLIBERSEK: I really hope that with the overwhelming result that we've had today, that the consensus bill will have an easy passage through the Parliament. But we've already heard from the conservatives, particularly conservatives in the Liberal Party, they've got an alternate bill that they've proposed or they want to move amendments. They will look for any way they can to delay the passage of marriage equality legislation and this really is the time for the Prime Minister to stand up and say "Australians have voted. We put them to the trouble and expense of this wasteful and divisive plebiscite, they have resoundingly said yes now. The Parliament has a job to do, the Parliament can get it done by Christmas." The Prime Minister should show some leadership and absolutely refuse to allow delays, diversions, from any of the opponents of marriage equality.
PRESENTER: 100 per cent agree with you Tanya. I think the people have spoken, 61 per cent of Australians want this to be done now and I think the majority of people just don't want it to be delayed any more. There are a whole plethora of other issues that need to be looked at by the Australian Government and I think it's time that this one finally be put to bed.
PLIBERSEK: Absolutely. And you know what? Wouldn't it be nice to be celebrating the first weddings by Christmas?
PRESENTER: Yes, it would be wonderful. And I think there'll be a lot of cake makers and florists and celebrants who would love to take on that business as well.
PLIBERSEK: Well I can tell you there's a few of us who are a little nervous about all of the wedding presents they're going to be buying over the next few years. There's a bit of stored up pressure in the wedding market there that I think we'll be seeing coming out over the next few years. There'll be lots of weddings and lots of celebrations to go to.
PRESENTER: Awesome. Thank you so much for speaking with us on Joy 94.9 today Tanya.
PLIBERSEK: It's a pleasure. It's a really great historic day. It's a day that people will remember for the rest of their lives, where were they today.
PRESENTER: Yes. And do you think you'll be carrying on with some celebrations later on today?
PLIBERSEK: Yes I've got a couple of little celebrations planned. I'm having a lunch with all of the volunteers who worked on the Yes campaign in my electorate shortly, and then tonight there's a big party on Oxford Street, Taylor Square, and be kicking on from there.
PRESENTER: Fabulous. Thank you again for talking with us Tanya Pilbersek - sorry Plibersek. I am so sorry I just got your name wrong. Many apologies.
PLIBERSEK: It's fine, and it was great to talk to you Tom and John. Thank you.
PRESENTER: Thank you.