TRANSCRIPT: ABC 7.30 Report, Tuesday 26 May 2015





ABC 7.30
TUESDAY, 26 MAY 2015

SUBJECTS: Marriage equality; Dual citizenship


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER:  Tanya Plibersek is with me now from Parliament House. Will all Labor MPs be bound to support this bill or will it be a conscience vote so that some Labor MPs can dissent?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It will be a free vote. We decided at our last national conference, Leigh, that while the Labor Party position was to support equality, there would be a free vote for Labor MPs and the question of course is: will there also be a free vote for Liberal MPs? We’ve had quite a few Liberals saying that Tony Abbott should allow their side of politics a free vote also.

SALES: Will the introduction of this bill ensure that there will be a vote on it in the House of Representatives?

PLIBERSEK: We’ll introduce this bill and then the usual process is there’s some debate at the time that it’s introduced and some time later a bill can be brought on for a vote. We are very keen to make sure that during that period, intervening period, the community has the opportunity to tell their Members of Parliament about their support for marriage equality. We know from recent surveys, almost three-quarters of Australians are supporters of marriage equality, so having a few weeks intervening period certainly allows that period of community consultation.

SALES: Labor was in government five minutes ago when you actually the power to make laws, why did your party lack the courage to take this step then?

PLIBERSEK: Well we changed 85 laws at the time, Leigh, we removed every piece of legal discrimination against gay men, lesbians and same sex couples on the statute books -

SALES: Marriage equality wasn’t one of them though.

PLIBERSEK: This is a piece of unfinished business and both Bill Shorten and I were supporters of marriage equality in the past. We have the opportunity now as the Leader and Deputy to move this bill.

SALES: You say it’s unfinished business. Why didn’t the party tackle it when you were in government though? Like, what’s changed?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the views of the community at least in part have changed. You would’ve seen in recent weeks, Leigh, that a number of members of the Labor Party have said in the past they haven’t been supporters of marriage equality but as their community’s views have shifted, their own views as Members of Parliament have also shifted and that’s certainly true in the Liberal Party as well. You’ve got people who speak privately to me and a number who have been brave enough to speak publicly who say they have seen views in their own community shift. In fact, I mean a lot of people will tell you personal stories about their own parents or members in their family who have perhaps discovered that they’ve got a child or grandchild who’s in a same sex relationship who might not have been supporters of marriage equality but over time because of the way our communities have changed and because of the way their own personal experiences, their own families have changed, have become supporters of marriage equality.

SALES: On the citizenship proposal alerted today by the Prime Minister, is it a foregone conclusion that Labor will support it given that you’re basically in lockstep with the Government on national security issues?

PLIBERSEK: We have sought to work wherever we can cooperatively with the Government on national security issues because the most important thing that a government should do is keep its citizens safe. Because we’ve worked cooperatively with the Government, we have seen some legal changes but they have certainly not been without scrutiny and indeed in the most recent Parliamentary Joint Intelligence and Security Committee examinations of national security legislation that’s been put forward, we’ve actually achieved dozens of very significant changes -

SALES: And how about on this proposal today?

PLIBERSEK: Well we’ve only just received this proposal today. I thought your interview with Bret Walker was quite instructive. It’s true that in proposals like this the devil’s in the detail so we’ll take a good look at this. We’ll look at it methodically as we have with other pieces of legislation. But our first interest, as the Government’s first interest is, is in keeping people safe.

SALES: Tanya Plibersek, thank you very much for joining us tonight.


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