Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Bills

Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; In Committee

5:17 pm

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

It will be no surprise to Senator Paterson that the Greens will not be supporting any of his amendments in this tranche. In my role as education spokesperson for the Greens, I want to take issue with the element in relation to education. I find it extraordinary that you want to use this debate and this bill to wedge in provisions around what classes children attend. The Australian public have made their view extremely clear. They were asked if they wanted to allow couples, regardless of gender, the right to marry, and, overwhelmingly, Australians responded with a loud yes. That has absolutely nothing to do with the grasping-of-straws attempt that, with all due respect, Senator Paterson, you and others are trying to waste time in this chamber with today in bringing up other issues which just simply do not fit here.

You've said that this is a very narrow amendment and that it only relates to marriage. Well, hang on a minute; if you care about freedom of speech and if you care about parental rights, why wouldn't we have provisions that allow parents who are flat-earthers to say that their kids shouldn't go to geography classes or that allow people who don't believe in climate change to say that their kids shouldn't go to science classes? It is extraordinary that you want to start a trend where the education of children gets drawn into this political debate, an ideological debate, that you have lost and those who oppose marriage equality have lost. This has absolutely nothing to do with the bill before us, and we will be voting down these amendments.

I think parents right across the country are wondering why on earth Senator Paterson wants to bring in such ridiculous, draconian amendments into this process. You talk about freedom of speech and you talk about freedom of citizens, and these prescriptive amendments really do risk legislating cumbersome nanny state laws. That is what you're talking about here. On the next lot of issues that you don't agree with, are we going to have an amendment bill that starts saying children can't be taught the science of climate change or children shouldn't be taught about issues of respectful relationships—for example, encouraging young women and girls to make sure they don't put up with domestic violence in their relationships or with sexual assault? Where do you draw the line? This is purely ideological desperation, and these amendments should be rejected from the chamber.

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