Senator Hanson: I rise to speak on the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Bill 2017. I do have concerns about this bill that has been introduced into the parliament, basically on freedom of speech. Why are we having to introduce this? I think people will actually have their say on whether they accept something or not. I think this will shut down debate on the issue—a case in point just recently: fathers wanting to put an ad on TV, but it was shut down because it was seen to be politically incorrect. These are fathers that have been putting out these commercials and ads for over 16 years. But, due to case at the moment about same-sex marriage, it was shut down so they couldn’t say anything about it. We are going to have the ‘no’ vote out there being shut down—and I believe that is the case—and I think the ‘yes’ vote will actually continue with calling people homophobic and they will still keep their campaign going.
I think it is very important that I make it very clear where I stand on this. I personally will be voting no, and I will explain my case. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, in our objective and principles, do believe there should be a referendum with regards to this. People say that it is not to do with a constitutional matter. Under section 51, item 21 in the Australian Constitution you find the word ‘marriage’. The marriage then was defined by the parliament as between a man and a woman. Why I say it should go to a referendum is to let the people decide what they define as marriage. Two questions should be put to the people: Do you believe in marriage between a man and a woman? Or do you believe marriage is between a man and woman or someone of the same sex? Let the people decide that. Then, if it is enshrined in our Constitution, as it was in the Irish Constitution when they had the vote, at no further time in this parliament can any members of parliament—and we’re talking about 226 at this moment—change the Constitution to whichever way it suits them, where they may, in the future, want to have multiple marriages or reduce the marriage age. I think that needs to be enshrined in our Constitution so that then, if it is to be changed, it goes back to the people. Apart from a referendum, we have called for a plebiscite. Apart from that, we actually believe it is an individual choice, and every member of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation will vote in a conscience vote on this matter.
I do believe that there are a lot of things that have not been spoken about here. I heard Senator Rice and Senator Pratt, and they made their comments about it and how they’ve been hard done by. Someone’s feelings and lifestyle are by all means very important, and I do not deny anyone the right to live in happiness and peace whichever way they care to, but I have never heard them say anything about the other side. It’s all about them—what they want. I’ve never heard anyone come out and say: ‘What about the other side? What about the people who have grown up here or who are in this country where the majority of people live in a relationship between a man and woman? A marriage is between a man and a woman.’ So why can’t people look at it from the other side? Why is it all about them? Why can’t they say: ‘I respect your opinion. You are married. Our marriage laws are between a man and woman.’ We have to actually look at it from their point of view.
My concern is: how far will this go? I see now that they want to put this into sexual education in the Safe Schools program. But, apart from all that, let’s go a step further. We’re talking about people’s feelings. We’re talking about grown-ups. We’re talking about adults. They can make choices for themselves in their life, and so they should, but why take the word ‘marriage’, which is between a man and woman? Why won’t you compromise? Why won’t you say, ‘We’ll have a civil ceremony’? Why don’t you try and compromise? You’d get the majority of Australians on your side. You want to take something that belongs to two people—a man and a woman. If it is the choice of the public, I will accept what the public say, as long as it’s done fairly.
I want to touch on what is further on down the track for us—and I want Australians to consider this. Once you have marriage equality, you have the rights of any other couple who are married in Australia. What about the rights of the child? Have we considered the children? What may come of this is: kids might go to school and they say, ‘I want you to draw a picture of Mum and Dad?’ or ‘What have Mum and Dad done?’ or ‘Have you had time with grandma and grandad?’ Is someone going to say, ‘Sorry? You can no longer call that parent Mum or Dad because it is going to offend the children who don’t have a Mum and Dad’? Is it going to be: you must call that person by name—Peter, Anne or John? It is no longer Mum and Dad; it’s no longer Gran or Granddad. This is the impact it’s having in other places, or so I have been told.
Let’s look beyond that and at the social impact this is going to have on Australians. Let’s have a fair debate with regard to this issue. I don’t think what is going to happen with children has been discussed enough. What are you going to ask? What about the kids? What if they come back and they say: ‘You denied us a vote in the parliament. You’ve denied us the right to a Mum and Dad.’ There are social problems with this, and I can see it happening.
When it comes to the plebiscite—what a joke it is. What an absolute waste of money—$122 million that’s going to be spent on postal votes. They’re being sold now. People are advertising and trying to sell their votes on eBay and other places. They’re going be stolen out of letterboxes. People are saying to their friends, ‘If you’re overseas, then your friend can fill in your card for you.’ This is not going to be reflective of what the Australian people want. Why have you pushed this through? Why didn’t you save the money and put it to a referendum at the next election? Why didn’t you do it in a way where there was going to be a positive outcome?
Whichever way this plebiscite goes, I won’t be supporting it because I feel it’s a sham. It’s farcical. I think it’s a waste of money. Actually, I would have liked to have seen the money—$122 million—being put into our family law courts so that we can address the issues of people who are devastated and people who are suiciding, because we can’t get the system sorted out. That’s where we need to put the money. You’re worrying about marriage equality. I say: let’s look at divorce and parental equality first and sort that out before you allow marriage equality.
Let’s go to the numbers. The stats in Australia state that there are about 35,000 couples. Not all those same-sex couples want to get married. A lot of them aren’t interested. That was evident in the 7.30 program, where two gay men said, ‘We’re not interested in getting married.’ I know a lot of gay couples who are not interested. Here we have a few people pushing their own agenda and pushing feeling sorry for them, but it’s just not reflective of Australians, who are fed up with this. They are so over hearing about it. I’m constantly speaking to them, and they just want to move on, because there are more important issues in this country—the deficit, suicides, farmers being forced off their land, banking issues; and the family law courts—and we should not be taking up time in this parliament discussing this issue. If we had a true leader, this would have gone to a referendum. The Prime Minister of this country should have had a referendum at the next federal election—a decision made by the public. But he was actually backed into a corner, because he was frightened to come out and make a difference. He was backed into a corner by the Greens and the Labor Party, and he didn’t show leadership on this issue.
I would like to go back to something that’s in the bill, and maybe the minister can answer this question. In section (4)(b) of the bill, it says:
This section also does not apply in relation to marriage law survey matter referred to in paragraph (1)(b)…
It states in (b) that:
a communication communicated solely for genuine satirical, academic or artistic purposes.—
I would like to know: what do you classify as ‘genuine satirical’?
These are things that need to be clarified and answered. If we are actually going to bring this bill in and someone makes a complaint about it, what time frame are we talking about, because this bill is supposed to go until 15 November? What time frame are we talking about? By the time the commercials go to air and complaints are put in, who’s going to shut them down? Who’s going to make those decisions? You talk about vilify and intimidate—on who’s point of view, if you have a difference of opinion? I’ve just raised a couple of issues about children—am I going to be seen to be intimidating or upsetting someone? Are we going to shut down the debate so we cannot have a say on this?
I think this is dangerous. More and more, I see a move creeping into our country to shut down debate and freedom of speech by the left-leaning side of this country, who are taking over not only our schools and our universities but pushing their agenda so that I’m in fear for our future generations. I won’t be supporting this. I have grave concerns about it. I think that people have a right to be able to speak openly. Like I said, the people will have their say. The people will judge, if anyone is actually overstepping the mark. Therefore Pauline Hanson’s One Nation will not be supporting this bill.