Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Bills

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

8:10 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I won't look at him.

Senator McKim interjecting—

I know it's okay for Greens senators to interject without being interrupted, but I won't respond directly to that interjection because I know that's against standing orders!

I don't know any of the Greens particularly well. I don't think—I suspect, but it doesn't really matter—that any of them have any deep religious convictions. But I do know members of the Labor Party who do have deep religious convictions, and I know they are very uncomfortable with many aspects of this bill. Perhaps this has been dealt with before, during the day, when I haven't been able to participate. Perhaps I've missed something. But when we have Senator Wong in this debate—and I'm not looking at her; I'm looking at you, Mr Chairman—and Senator Wong says, 'We in the Labor Party say this, that and the other in relation to this,' or, as Senator Pratt said earlier, 'We will not be supporting this,' I just want to know what happened to the conscience debate. What happened to the oft-talked-about comments made, I recall, by Mr Shorten that this should be a conscience vote of the parliament? We have one side of the parliament actually allowing a conscience vote—I've certainly done that, and my colleagues have certainly done that—and yet the Labor Party seem to be speaking as one voice. So I'm wondering if Senator Wong—and I'm not looking at her—might be able to indicate to the chamber what happened to the conscience vote that was so widely talked about in the run-up to this legislation? That's one part of my question.

The other part is that if Senator Paterson is correct, and he convinced me with his contribution, that there can be no downside to this bill, I would ask Senator Wong—and I'm not looking at her, or Senator Rice or Senator McKim; I'm not looking at either of them—

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