TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Parliament House, Monday 29 August 2016






SUBJECTS: marriage equality

JOURNALIST: So is Labor prepared to not see gay marriage legalised in this term of Government if there is a delay?


TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well of course if there is any delay to the legalisation of marriage equality it will be on Malcolm Turnbull’s head. Malcolm Turnbull is a man who in the past has said he supports marriage equality. In the past has criticised the plebiscite as an expensive, divisive, delaying tactic. Now, to keep the right wing of the Liberal Party in check he has agreed to adopt Tony Abbott’s policy on this, as on many other things. We could legislate for marriage equality by the end of this week. There could be legislation on Wednesday if Malcolm Turnbull allowed it but instead he’s going for a $160 million expensive, divisive, delaying tactic. Some estimates suggest the cost of this plebiscite might be as high as $250 million. So at the same time as the Government is talking about reducing costs, reducing expenditure, they want to spend $250 million on an opinion poll that will not even bind Members of Parliament to vote in the way that the plebiscite determines.


JOURNALIST: According to cost - is this your way of saying that gay marriage isn’t worth $250 million?


PLIBERSEK: Well we could have marriage equality by the end of the week if Parliamentarians were allowed to do their day jobs which is determining how they vote on legislation put before the Parliament. We haven’t had a plebiscite on voluntary euthanasia. We didn’t have a plebiscite when John Howard last changed the Marriage Act. We don’t have a plebiscite, or even a Parliamentary vote, when we determine whether to send Australians to war. It is our job as Parliamentarians to make decisions like this and then answer to the Australian people on those decisions. We know that this Parliament is capable of doing the job it was elected to do which is to make a determination that Australians deserve marriage equality.


JOURNALIST: [inaudible] out though you are arguing against it. Do you think it is fair to state Labor’s policy clearly to the people to have certainty on this issue?


PLIBERSEK: We need to look at legislation before we determine how we’re doing to vote on it. So we’ve got an expectation that a number of pieces of legislation on all sorts of things will be introduced this week. But what we know is that this Parliament has the ability – has the authority – to determine marriage equality. It could do it this week if Malcolm Turnbull allowed that to happen, rather than spending -


JOURNALIST: [inaudible]


PLIBERSEK: This Parliament could determine marriage equality this week if Malcolm Turnbull allowed the Private Members Bill which was introduced in the last Parliament to be voted upon in this Parliament.


JOURNALIST: The Coalition did go to the election with this policy though, how does Labor decide which policies the Government should be able to get through that they took to the election and which policies they are going to stick to? What’s the rule here?


PLIBERSEK: Well a lot of people voted for Labor knowing that we have a policy to legislate for marriage equality within the first 100 days of a Shorten Labor Government; we have to keep faith with the people who supported Labor. We were about twelve thousand votes short of forming Government across the nation, so we’ve got a responsibility to all those millions of Australians who put their trust in us as well. Thanks everyone.