THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
ABC 666 CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 28 MAY 2015
SUBJECT: Marriage equality
PHILIP CLARK, PRESENTER: Ms Plibersek, good morning.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hi Phil, how are you?
CLARK: I’m very well. Given what Mr Abbott has said, is it time perhaps for you and Mr Shorten to back off and maybe offer some cross-party move to introduce a marriage equality bill?
PLIBERSEK: Well, Philip, I’d be delighted if there was a cross-party move but I did write to every Liberal MP over a year ago asking them to co-sponsor a bill. I’ve spoken to a number of them individually and so far nothing has happened. So Bill introducing this bill has actually prompted that shift and that’s certainly a step forward as far as I’m concerned.
CLARK: I mean it does seems to have- I mean, this issue has moved very quickly. I mean, for you as a politician, I’m sure you must’ve been surprised at the speed with which it is moving.
PLIBERSEK: I think the Australian community have been here for a while, I think the Australian community’s been ahead of our Parliament and I think the vote over the weekend in Ireland has really, I suppose, focused the minds of some of our Parliamentarians on the fact that this is a change which is inevitable in a country like Australia. We’ve got the UK, New Zealand, Ireland, many US states, many European countries, countries that we think of as similar to us, politically, culturally, socially. And the fact that Australia has been lagging, I think, was really thrown into sharp relief on the weekend.
CLARK: Okay, so are you going to- you and Mr Shorten will proceed anyway, will you?
PLIBERSEK: Well, procedurally now the bill will be presented on Monday, but that certainly doesn’t prevent some other arrangement down the track if the Liberals come to us and say that they’ve got someone to co-sponsor a bill, it’s a very easy thing to do down the track across parties and like I say, Phil, I have been asking for that for over a year. I would be delighted if-
CLARK: I mean, Warren Entsch-
PLIBERSEK: It gives us a better chance of the bill passing if there is bipartisan support on that.
CLARK: Indeed. Warren Entsch has often been mentioned as the person who might carry that, I mean, is that still your thinking as to where it might come from?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I don’t mind who it is, but I did write to Warren more than a year ago asking him to co-sponsor such a bill and there’s been no movement. The Liberals are in a very difficult position because I know there are a lot of Liberals who support this, but when I wrote to them saying ‘would you co-sponsor a bill with me?’, they said ‘no, because our position in the party room is against this and so I can’t co-sponsor a bill, it would be against party policy’. And there could be no change in the party room towards a conscience vote until a bill was presented because the leadership of the Liberal Party were saying we’re not going to debate this until there’s a bill before Parliament. So there is this absolutely classic catch-22 situation where they couldn’t argue for a conscience vote until there was a bill presented, but there couldn’t be a bipartisan bill presented because they were opposed to a conscience vote if you see what I’m saying.
CLARK: I do.
PLIBERSEK: So I guess this has kind of cracked open the opportunity for something going forward. I don’t think it would’ve happened, frankly, if Bill hadn’t presented this legislation. I’m delighted it has, but if the Liberals are prepared to work cross-party on this, that would be all my Christmases come at once.
CLARK: Okay. Will it pass this year?
PLIBERSEK: It depends a little bit, we’re in the hands of the Government about the timing of the reintroduction of this legislation. I would love to see it pass in the next few months. I certainly think there is enough community momentum for that. I’m told by the people who are following this closely within the Liberal Party that there are a significant number of people who would vote for marriage equality if they had a free vote. So yes, fingers crossed we could get this done certainly before the end of the year.
CLARK: Okay, Tanya Plibersek, good to have your time. Thank you.