I seek to take note of the answer from Minister Cormann to my question about the marriage equality postal plebiscite. The totally unsatisfactory answers that we got from the minister are really what we’ve come to expect from a government that is willing to use lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people as pawns in the sick game that they are playing. This is from a government that is being led by a Prime Minister who tells us that he supports marriage equality but is clearly just a husk of Tony Abbott. It is just so that he can show the right-wing troglodytes in his party that he is conservative enough.
Minister Cormann claimed, in response to my question about disenfranchising young people, that they are giving every Australian the opportunity to have their say on marriage equality. It is every Australian, they claim—except, however, for the more than 50,000 18-year-olds who won’t be able to vote. These are the people who will turn 18 between 24 August and 7 November. This is unlike other elections, where you can set the roll so that 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register, so that—right up until the day of the election; right up until the very last minute of them turning 18—they can vote. In this postal plebiscite, 2½ months will go by where people will turn 18 and they won’t be able to vote—let alone the 16- and 17-year-olds that the Greens think should be able to vote in such a postal plebiscite or in any vote about marriage equality, because, if 16- and 17-year-olds are old enough to get married, as they are, surely they are old enough to vote. So we in the Greens are going to continue to pursue this. We say that 16- and 17-year-olds, young Australians who are old enough to get married, should be old enough to vote in any public vote about marriage equality.
We know that having this shonky postal plebiscite is going to disenfranchise young people in general. Young people are much less likely to be on the electoral roll. Young people are more likely to have changed address. And yet we know that it’s young people in our society who are most passionate overall about marriage equality, because they know that love is love. They’ve grown up, as my children have, to know that people are same-sex-attracted and to know that people are gender diverse, and they just accept people for who they are. And they are the people that can’t understand why we are taking so long and why we can’t just move to have a free vote in this parliament and achieve marriage equality, so that any two people, regardless of their sexuality or their gender identity, are able to marry.
If this shonky postal plebiscite ends up going ahead, if the High Court challenge against it isn’t successful, we, as Greens, are going to be campaigning strongly, just as we are advocating strongly in this parliament for us to be voting yes, so that people can marry the person they love. If this plebiscite goes ahead, we will be campaigning very strongly for people to be choosing love and voting yes.
We’d already begun this campaigning over the weekend. And we know that the number of people—particularly young people again—who have enrolled to vote in the last four days has been amazing. They would prefer the parliament to just get on and do its job, but, if it comes to a postal vote, they want to be on the roll. The problem, though, as I say, with this postal plebiscite and the reason why it would be much better for this parliament just to do its job is the reason that I’m in the High Court, that we have a High Court challenge against this postal plebiscite, and it’s all the reasons that I outlined in my question to Minister Cormann today. This postal plebiscite is disenfranchising of young people, as we’ve already discussed. And then, in terms of privacy, it’s either going to be fatally subject to fraud or fatally undermining our privacy. You can’t have it both ways. These are the problems with having a postal vote on this issue, and it has such potential to cause harm and division.
But we know that in the end love is going to win. We know that in the end we are going to have a vote in this parliament that’s going to legislate for marriage equality. It may be a vote in this parliament immediately after the High Court challenge knocks off this plebiscite and throws it in the bin, or it may be that we’ve got to go through this tortuous course of a postal vote, but in the end there will be a vote in this parliament and love will win. People will choose love and love will win.
Chamber Senate on 14/08/2017 Item QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS – MarriageSpeaker : Rice, Sen Janet Parliment of Australia Transcript used for News Reporting