THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
2DAYFM WITH DAN & MAZ
WEDNESDAY, 27 MAY 2015
SUBJECT: Marriage equality
MAZ, PRESENTER: Welcome to the show, Tanya Plibersek, good morning.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hi, it’s great to be with you.
DAN, PRESENTER: Great to have you on the show, I tell you what-
MAZ: So much pressure on that signature -
DAN: Oh my god -
MAZ: You want it to be a good one.
DAN: It’s like when you’re signing a new credit card or a new passport and you’re stuck with that one. Did you practice a few times before you signed on the line?
PLIBERSEK: Yeah, sadly I get a lot of opportunity to practice my signature, I get a lot of paperwork.
DAN: Was it definitely you or does your PA have a stamp?
PLIBERSEK: [Laughs] No, that would make life a lot easier.
DAN: Yeah, you’ve got to do it. That’s good. Even if it wasn’t you, you wouldn’t tell us. Tanya -
MAZ: Tanya, everyone’s talking about this issue today and what do you think your chances are of getting this through?
PLIBERSEK: Look I think the chances are very good. I think the Australian public has been ahead of the Australian Parliament for some time. The most recent poll I saw was that 72% of Australians support marriage equality and I think it’s a shame that our Parliament has taken so long to come to this. When we were in Government, we changed 85 pieces of legislation to remove discrimination, but this last thing, marriage equality, I think now is the time to get that done. And I know that there are people in the Liberal Party who want to support this. They’ve been outspoken on marriage equality and if Tony Abbott gives a free vote to his partyroom and we’ve got a free vote in Labor, I think it’s got a very good chance at passing.
DAN: Is that a big ‘if’? If Tony Abbott gives them a free vote, do you reckon he’ll say ‘do as I say, I’m the boss’?
PLIBERSEK: Well that’s been his tradition up til now and I know that there are a lot of people in the Liberal Party who are talking to their leader and saying, you know, the time for change has come and you’re entitled to your view as an individual but there’s a lot of us who support marriage equality and I hope that they are successful in their partyroom at convincing Tony Abbott to allow a free vote.
MAZ: Tanya, with a conscience vote, do you have to put your name to that? Or do you remain anonymous? Because I feel like that would actually change people in the Liberal Party, the way that they vote, if it was anonymous maybe.
PLIBERSEK: Yeah, well you’ll definitely know in the Parliament. If there’s a free vote in the Parliament, there’ll be some people sitting to the left of the Speaker and some to the right of the Speaker and we’ll count every vote and those votes will be recorded throughout history. In the partyroom, the Liberal party room, I think that that would probably end up being a show of hands or something as well but I can’t say I’m an expert on how they make their decisions in the party room.
DAN: Oh, who knows?
PLIBERSEK: Yeah that’s right, who knows?
MAZ: Tanya, is there a sense of slight disappointment that Australia is so late to the game on this issue and it shouldn’t even be an issue?
PLIBERSEK: Look, I think big social changes, you really need to take the community with you and there’s been a lot of people in our community who have been arguing for this change in the community, me included, in fact I had a private member’s bill that I put up more than a year ago looking for a Liberal Party co-sponsor. I spoke to a number of Liberals, in fact I wrote to all of them and said ‘would you be interested in doing this sort of bipartisan work?’ So there’s been a lot of, you know, step by step by step, because it is a big social change for a lot of people and I think the best way to handle it is to keep talking calmly about the benefits of this change. I mean, the people who are opposed to the change for religious reasons say marriage is a sacrament and something that the churches have given, and I say, okay, nobody wants to force the churches to change their position, no one wants to force the churches to marry people. But marriage is more than a religious sacrament, it’s a legal contract that you enter into with someone, that you’ll look after them and they’ll look after you. And I think for most people, the most important thing is it’s a way of telling your family, your community, the people that you love that this is your partner for life.
DAN: Yeah, I like the idea that now you guys have worked out that you can sneak a bit of legislation in if you see things that Australia is doing that you’re a bit embarrassed about. Maybe we could get a couple more through, what about a bit of legislation saying that you know we don’t tell celebrities to bugger off when they try and get their cute dogs into the country?
PLIBERSEK: Well, there’s so many things that we would love to change and it all relies on actually having the numbers in the House of Representatives which sadly as the Opposition we don’t. And the only chance we have of getting this through is if the Liberals are allowed a free vote because we don’t- even if every Labor MP voted for it, we wouldn’t have the numbers on our own in the House of Representatives.
DAN: Oh, come on, Tone, what are you going to do? What’s he going to do? Is he going to spin the wheel? Is he going to try and be the Joffrey and go ‘no! Do as I say’. It’s going to be interesting. Thanks for talking to us, Tanya.
MAZ: Thanks, Tanya.
PLIBERSEK: It’s a pleasure, thank you.