Thursday, 10 August 2017
Matters of Public Importance
I have four sons, four boys aged between 17 and 27. I love them dearly. I love each and every one of them. If you walked through my house or swiped through my phone, you would see lots of photos of those boys—smiling, laughing, growing up. There are photos of them at school, photos of them playing sport, photos with their families and friends, and photos with their partners, all over the walls in my house. And, like I said, you can look through my phone and you will see lots of photos of them there too. I raised each and every one of them to have the same values: to be kind, to be loving, to be compassionate and to show empathy with every single person they share this world with. They've all grown up into very different people. One's a tradie, one's a small-business owner, one's currently studying a bachelor of mathematics degree and working in hospitality at the same time, and one's a year 12 student who has a vision of heading off to uni next year. So they are all very different. While their interests have led them into different paths in life, they've all used the values and the morals that they were raised with to guide them into becoming very, very fine young men. They're men who I am really proud to call my sons.
I love each of those boys equally. They'll probably tell you that's not true. They'll probably tell you that I prefer one over the other, but that's not true. I do love each of those boys equally. It's because of that that I am truly hurt, as their mother, that this government sees one of them not the same as the others. This government has set out on a campaign to marginalise, offend and discriminate against one of my sons. He's a 27-year-old man, he's a university graduate and he's gay. As a young man, my son used to say to me that he worried about not having children, about not getting married. He says that he knew his brothers had a different right to a commitment that he didn't, a commitment that made life worth living. I was talking to him on the phone just this week. He said to me: 'Marriage isn't just about love, Mum; it's about sharing your life. Marriage is about the legal right to decide on financial and property matters with the person you love.' He's frustrated by how much time—that's what he said to me—and how much money has been wasted on this issue already, and how the government is happy to waste another $122 million simply to delay the inevitable. Because it is inevitable. It's inevitable because Australia is full of kind and passionate people. They are in the majority. They're not bigots who try to make the most noise. It is inevitable because we in Labor 100 per cent support equality for all Australians and we will deliver it, no matter what. We don't need a $122 million rigged opinion poll or household survey to tell us what a small population in the country think, to do our job.
After weeks of infighting and being undermined by his party's ultraconservative hard right, this PM knows how weak he looks. No-one could possible believe he's a strong leader when, after claiming to support marriage equality, he forces through this $122 million household survey. We could use that money to put more teachers in schools, employ more nurses or make more aged-care places available to our seniors. If this PM really wanted equality he could call a vote today. I tell you what: I'll sit down right this second. I'd gladly stop speaking if it meant they would call a vote right now. I would do what I was elected to do. But, instead, we know this Prime Minister has resorted to a postal method which he himself has recognised as a calculated method, designed to 'disenfranchise Australians, particularly young people.' These are not the actions of a strong leader, a weak leader or any form of leader at all; these are the actions of someone who is being led by others, being led by ultraconservatives in his party.
I hope that the Prime Minister sees the light, I really do. I hope he decides not to proceed with this $122 million household survey and calls a free vote in parliament. But I can tell you, no matter what, no matter how we have to vote, I can 100 per cent guarantee you I will be voting yes for my son. I will be voting yes for every single son, daughter, mother, father, every family and friend who has a loved one and who wishes to marry the person they love. I will be voting yes for marriage equality.