House debates

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016; Second Reading

7:17 pm

Photo of Tanya PlibersekTanya Plibersek (Sydney, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | Hansard source

We know that this pointless plebiscite will be fantastically expensive—$200 million, by the government's own estimate. You would really think that the people who said we had a debt and deficit disaster would worry about that. When we had a projected deficit of $4.7 billion for the 2015-16 year that was a debt and deficit disaster. Under this mob that has blown out eightfold—this is why I was doing this gesture in question time today. It is almost $40 billion but they cannot think of something better to do with $200 million—maybe pay down debt, maybe properly fund our schools, maybe properly fund our hospitals, maybe build some transport infrastructure. Do the Liberals really think that running this plebiscite is more important and more valuable than properly funding aged care or properly funding child care? Yes, apparently they do.

But the most compelling argument is the harm that this debate will do to the LGBTIQ communities, their families and supporters. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, mental health experts, including Professor Patrick McGorry and Frank Quinlan, and suicide prevention expert Dr Jo Robinson have all said that the potential for harm here is real. We know that it will happen. Two weeks ago I visited—not for the first time—Twenty10, a gay and lesbian youth counselling service in my electorate. They have already seen an increase in demand for their services. Gay and lesbian rights advocates have told me about physical confrontations and even death threats that they have already experienced because they have been speaking out in favour of marriage equality. Rainbow families, close and loving families, have had to explain to their children why people—


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