Senate debates

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Bills

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

10:55 am

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

There is no siege mentality, Senator Leyonhjelm, although it's a very flamboyant set of words there. I think we have taken a sensible approach to a bill that has gone through a cross-party process. We have also taken the principled position that we want to deliver marriage equality within the context of Australia's existing antidiscrimination laws. That has been a consistent position, whether it's in relation to Senator Fawcett's amendments, Senator Hanson's amendments or your amendments.

In relation to amendment (1), which I think is the only amendment at this stage you are speaking to and which you've moved, I want to thank you for the constructive way in which you've sought to deal with these amendments. We note your rationale for its introduction. It's an amendment which seeks to explicitly prevent authorised officers under state and territory law from refusing to solemnise marriages. You were right to pre-empt the proposition I'm about to make. We are of the view, and we have a different legal view about the interaction of the two laws, that the existing protections under the Sex Discrimination Act provide sufficient protection against discrimination in such cases. There are obviously substantive protections in the Sex Discrimination Act, and it is our view that the provision of the Marriage Act to which you've referred does not derogate from those. If we are wrong in that, obviously that will be something that can be considered down the track. For that reason, Labor will not be supporting this amendment.

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