Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; In Committee
by leave—I, and also on behalf of Senator Burston and Senator Georgiou, move the One Nation amendments on sheet 8332:
(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 4), omit the table item.
(2) Schedule 1, item 1, page 4 (line 8), omit "civil", substitute "authorised".
(3) Schedule 1, item 2, page 4 (line 27), omit "(iv) a religious marriage celebrant; or".
(6) Schedule 1, item 21, page 11 (lines 13 and 14), omit the heading to section 47A, substitute:
47A Authorised celebrants (other than State and Territory officers) may refuse to solemnise marriages
(7) Schedule 1, item 21, page 11 (line 15), omit "A religious marriage celebrant", substitute "An authorised celebrant (other than a State or Territory officer)".
(8) Schedule 1, item 21, page 11 (line 19), omit "a religious", substitute "an authorised".
(9) Schedule 1, item 63, page 17 (lines 11 to 19), omit subsection 40(2AA), substitute:
(2AA) An authorised celebrant (as defined in subsection 5(1) of the Marriage Act 1961) may refuse to solemnise marriage despite anything in Division 1 or 2, as applying by reference to section 5A, 5B, 5C or 6, if the circumstances mentioned in subsection 47A(1) of the Marriage Act 1961 apply.
We also oppose schedule 1 in the following terms:
(4) Schedule 1, item 5, page 5 (lines 13 to 17), to be opposed.
(5) Schedule 1, items 8 to 17, page 5 (line 22) to page 10 (line 6), to be opposed.
(10) Schedule 1, item 64, page 18 (lines 5 to 13), to be opposed.
(11) Schedule 1, Part 4, page 19 (lines 1 to 13), to be opposed.
These are very simple amendments. The Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 seeks to create two new categories of marriage celebrant. One is called a civil marriage celebrant. The other is called a religious marriage celebrant. The purpose of the two categories of marriage celebrant is to allow couples to make informed decisions about whether to engage the services of a celebrant, in the knowledge that a religious marriage celebrant may refuse to solemnise their marriage for religious reasons. This distinction between civil and religious marriage celebrant creates unnecessary division in the Marriage Act, which refers only to authorised celebrants. Why create two new divisive definitions to replace one uncomplicated and uncontroversial definition?
The difference in definition between religious marriage celebrants and civil marriage celebrants is unnecessary. If a marriage celebrant wants to refuse to solemnise a marriage, they should be entitled to do so without recrimination. If a marriage celebrant wants to refuse to provide their services, they should not be required to give their reasons. One Nation's amendments would remove the distinction between religious marriage celebrants and civil marriage celebrants and revert to the single-definition term 'authorised celebrant', which has stood the test of time in the Marriage Act. There is no justification for requiring someone to give their reasons for refusing to solemnise a marriage, whether those reasons are religious, ethical or conscientious objections, or that the marriage celebrant has had a better offer or is simply having a bad day.
I have listened to the debate in this chamber from both sides—well, no; virtually it's only from one side, because the other side, mainly Labor, have not even spent time in the chamber. They have rarely risen to their feet to debate this. They are not listening to those nearly five million people that voted no in the survey. Another 21 per cent didn't cast a vote at all, for whatever reason, and I've heard that some people never even got their vote. There is also an argument about whether it was done lawfully, meaning that votes were thrown out in the trash and people were coming along and picking them up. Votes were sent to places where others were collecting them out of their mailboxes. So was the vote really true and a clear reflection of what a lot of Australians wanted?
We see here this argument about the religious and the non-religious. I notice in the morning every day when we stand up to say the Lord's Prayer in this place that the majority of those on the opposite side don't even say the Lord's Prayer, so their regard for religion is non-existent. It is of great concern to me that this legislation is being pushed through the chamber, and I don't believe there's a choice in this chamber at all.
The CHAIR: Senator Hanson, please resume your seat. Senator Pratt?