House debates

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Bills

Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; Consideration in Detail

4:49 pm

Photo of Tony AbbottTony Abbott (Warringah, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I'm very happy to support the amendment that's been moved by the member for Corangamite—very happy indeed. I thank her and congratulate her for bringing an amendment in such clear terms to the House.

Perhaps for the benefit of everyone in this chamber, including in the galleries, I might read the relevant protection of religious freedom very slowly, because what this amendment proposes is that nothing in this act should limit or derogate from the right of any person to manifest in a lawful manner his or her religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

I put it to everyone in this chamber this evening: is there anyone at all here who does not believe in the right of people to manifest their religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching? And if, as I am confident, every single person in this wonderful parliament tonight believes that it's right that people should have this fundamental protection, well, what possible objection could there be to including this in the bill before us? We have heard today contributor after contributor to these debates say that nothing in this bill will impinge on freedom of religion. Well, supporting this amendment is an opportunity to demonstrate absolute fair dinkumness when it comes to those statements. It's an opportunity to show that all the things that we've said—all the people who've objected to earlier amendments and everything they said about their desire not to impinge in any way on faith, on freedom, on religion—are fair dinkum.

Yes, it's true that if we pass this amendment that the bill, as amended, would then have to go back to the Senate, and there may be an hour or so of toing and froing before it came back. And I know there are many people in the galleries this evening who are yearning for the completion of this debate, but I am quite confident that you would enjoy the hospitality of this House. We could provide some hospitality here in this House. There are many members who would be only too happy to open the bar for you, and then we could all come back and do this, but do it in the right way—in a way that doesn't just respect the eight million people who voted yes but respects the anxieties, the concerns and the beliefs of the five million people who voted no. Then we would truly have a wonderfully unifying moment for our whole country.

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