THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
4KQ WITH GARY, LAUREL & MARK
MONDAY, 1 JUNE 2015
SUBJECT: Marriage equality
GARY, PRESENTER: We’ve got Deputy Labor Leader, Tanya Plibersek, with us today. Good morning to you
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning.
GARY: What’s the process today?
PLIBERSEK: Today Bill Shorten will introduce a bill into the Parliament changing the Marriage Act, changing the definition from being between a man and a woman to being between two people and making it clear of course that no church would be forced to marry a same sex couple. Bill’s proposing the bill and we’ve asked a Liberal or National MP to second it because of course it has a better chance of passing if it is bipartisan. But if no Liberal or National is prepared to second it, then I will second it. I had a similar bill 14 months ago that I was looking for a Liberal or National to second and they said that nobody could second it until they had a debate in their partyroom allowing a free vote, but there could be no free vote unless there was a bill before the Parliament. So we were in this kind of catch-22; unless we introduce this bill, the Liberals or Nationals can’t even have a discussion inside their partyroom about whether there can be a free vote on this issue.
LAUREL: How sure are we that the majority of Australians want equality when it comes to marriage?
PLIBERSEK: The last polling I saw had 72 per cent of Australians supporting marriage equality. I think, on this issue, a lot of Australians are ahead of the Parliament. I mean, a lot of Australians are actively supportive and then there’s a whole group in the middle who don’t feel strongly about it either way. But if you ask them: do they think it’s fair that same sex couples that have been together a long time, support each other financially, emotionally in every other way, aren’t allowed to have the same legal recognition as opposite sex couples, heterosexual couples, most people don’t think that’s fair.
MARK: Now when you present this bill today, if the Liberals or the Nationals don’t support it, will it make them look out of step, out of touch with what we’re doing in this country?
PLIBERSEK: Look, it’s very difficult to understand why there wouldn’t be someone prepared to support it from the Liberal or National parties because I know that there are lot of Liberal and Nationals MPs who do support marriage equality. A lot of them have been outspoken about it publicly, they’re not shy to be in the media saying that this is a change whose time has come. So I think it would be a really good step forward if one of them were prepared to second the bill today.
MARK: But if they’re being told by Tony Abbott that ‘no, no, no, you’ve got to stick with the party line’, they don’t have a choice, do they?
PLIBERSEK: No, they don’t have a choice, but the simple fact is if we didn’t have this bill before the Parliament today, they wouldn’t even be talking about being allowed to have a free vote in their partyroom. Because what was happening is, all of those supporters of marriage equality were being told the party position is no free vote on this issue, and they weren’t even going to have a discussion on being allowed to have a free vote until there was a bill before the Parliament. So we had this kind of classic standoff, where the people who are supporters of marriage equality in the Liberal and Nationals partyroom couldn’t get that position even debated in their partyroom because there was no bill before the Parliament.
LAUREL: We are starting to hear in the media and social media ‘oh, come on, there’s more important things to discuss in Parliament’, but personally, I think with the majority of people, their relationship with their partner and their family is the most important thing in their life.
PLIBERSEK: A lot of people think this is a change that we’ve been waiting for for a long time as Australians. More than 20 countries around the world have made this change, countries a lot like us, the UK, the majority of states in the United States, as you said, Ireland last week, New Zealand, a lot of European countries have already made this change. And the simple fact is, the Parliament can deal with more than one issue at a time. Of course we should be focusing on jobs, on health, on education. Of course we should be working to make sure that our economy is strong and growing but we can actually walk and chew gum at the same time, I hope.
GARY: We don’t have to pass a bill for that too. I don’t know.
PLIBERSEK: If we do have to, I hope its bipartisan.
LAUREL: Well, it sounds like a big day in federal politics. Tanya Plibersek, thank you so much for chatting to us this morning.
PLIBERSEK: It’s a pleasure.