Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2017


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

5:34 pm

Photo of Eric AbetzEric Abetz (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Yes, that was clearly a speech designed for the ears of Western Sydney that have a narrow cast. I think it would be helpful for us to reflect on a few facts in this debate. And the simple fact is: the right of parents to guide the moral education of their children is an established right under international law. Nobody disputes that. Same with freedom of speech. Same with conscientious objection. These are fundamental human rights enshrined in international documents. What we are embarking upon with this legislation, potentially, is to compromise those fundamental rights in favour of something which has been shown time and again not to be a fundamental human right, namely, same-sex marriage. The international law on that is exceptionally clear. Does that stop a country from legislating for same-sex marriage? Of course not. It is not one of those fundamental international human rights. So what we have here is the Australian legislature seeking to establish a new right and, in so doing, compromising those very basic fundamental human rights that, thank goodness, we were all able to grow up with.

It is bizarre in the extreme that those who have celebrated the outcome of the postal survey did so on the basis of the embrace of—dare I say the word—diversity. But now that they've got a win in a postal survey—and I'll get to that later—they want to drop the blade on the D10 and just bulldoze forward without any concern about diversity. All of a sudden, diversity is no longer to be celebrated. There might be mums and dads concerned about the moral education of their children. Out the window! In my home state of Tasmania, Archbishop Porteous was taken, as it happens, to an antidiscrimination tribunal by an endorsed Greens' candidate who only withdrew it when she realised the consequences electorally, and they then ran for cover. But the simple fact is: surely, an archbishop—Julian Porteous—is entitled to circulate to the Catholic school community in Tasmania a well-considered document on the Catholic church's teachings on marriage. It wasn't a frolic of his own. It was a considered document signed off by all the Catholic bishops in Australia—it was from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference—and given to students at Catholic schools to take home to their parents. This was considered by this Greens candidate as a huge affront to human rights.

Now, I take Senator Hanson-Young's point about the postal survey and what people voted for. Let's be very clear: they voted for the question, 'Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?' Nothing more, nothing less—same-sex couples.


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