Thursday, 12 November 2015
The motion proposed to be moved by Senator Abetz deals with a matter before the Tasmanian Office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. It is simply not appropriate for the Senate to determine a position on this matter at this time.
This is a very simple motion, and the fact that the Greens and the Labor Party have sought to deny formality on this matter speaks volumes—that those who always hector us about tolerance show the most extreme intolerance. And I say this as a non-Catholic; I am not a Catholic. When the Catholic Church develops a booklet to teach its flock about its beliefs and teaching on marriage and they are then shut down by organisations within the Australian community, it is vital that there be an expression from this Senate about the right of freedom of speech and the right to express certain views. The fact that the Labor Party and the Greens have combined today to deny formality on this fundamental principle of free speech, expressing no view on the document, shows where they really stand.
The Australian Greens support free speech in this country, but we recognise that freedom of speech is a limited concept in any democracy and does not extend to the right to be a bigot, as Senator Abetz would have us believe—and I know he is a champion of the right to be a bigot. We believe that the rights to express a view should be balanced against the rights of members of our community to feel safe and secure from persecution and discrimination. That is why we will not support the motion being put forward today. As the Labor Party has identified, it is subject to antidiscrimination action as well and therefore not appropriate for this place to consider.