Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. A group of Catholic nuns and their supporters, working to combat slavery and support victims of human trafficking, are in Canberra today. They have been told that government cuts will mean they will lose their funding from July next year. Why is that? Why is it that the Prime Minister can find over $170 million to spend on an unnecessary, damaging and divisive plebiscite but he cannot find the money to help victims of human trafficking?
I will ask the Treasurer in a moment to address the particular cuts that the honourable member has referred to. But let me just deal with this question of the plebiscite. The honourable member's focus on the same-sex marriage plebiscite is addressed to the cost of it: yes, it will cost $170 million. But what price democracy? What price democracy? Do we have enough respect for the Australian people to ask them their view? That is the question. We have to recognise that this is a fundamental moral issue, a fundamental issue of conscience, on which Australians' views differ. There was a time when the Labor Party respected them. There was a time when the Labor Party did not accuse people who disagreed with them of being homophobes. The extraordinary, hateful expressions used by prominent figures in the Labor Party against people who do not support same-sex marriage is a disgrace. The way in which the Leader of the Opposition talked about 'haters crawling out from under rocks' if there was a plebiscite—what sort of language is that to talk about Australians? There was a time when many members opposite voted against same-sex marriage. There was a time when it was the Labor Party's policy. I just ask honourable members—
Mr Stephen Jones interjecting—
I just ask that honourable member in particular: was Julia Gillard a homophobe, when she opposed same-sex marriage? Was Penny Wong a homophobe when she opposed same-sex marriage? Of course not. The reality is, if people who opposed same-sex marriage then were not homophobes, then they are not homophobes today. The Labor Party has got to stop preaching this hatred. You talk about ensuring a civil debate—that is what we want; we respect every side—with respect. We respect each side, and the Labor Party should do the same. Many of their constituents sincerely, honourably, conscientiously believe that same-sex marriage should not be made the law of the land. They are entitled to do that. We will give them a choice. But they have no choice with respect to their member of parliament, because they have all been whipped in and obliged to vote in the same way, regardless of what their constituents believe. I have concluded my answer.
Opposition members interjecting—
Members will cease interjecting! The member for Blaxland and the member for Adelaide will cease interjecting. I also warn the member for Whitlam. I would ask the member for Sydney not to interject when I am addressing the House. The member for Bruce will cease interjecting.