Senate debates

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Court, Mrs Margaret

3:30 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis, to my question without notice today relating to Mrs Margaret Court.

I was appalled that Senator Brandis was not condemning the hurtful and hateful comments of Margaret Court and her speaking at a Liberal Party fundraiser this evening, under the guise that he was condoning this as free speech. Free speech has its limits. It is not free speech when it is hurtful, harmful speech. It is damaging to young people. What Margaret Court has said should be absolutely condemned. To say that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people were 'all the Devil', and equating accepting and supporting LGBTIQ young people with what Hitler did and with communism, and saying that there is a plot in our nation and the nations of the world to get in the minds of children—these statements need to be condemned. They certainly should not be given a platform.

Not only did we have Senator Brandis saying that it was fine with him in the interests of free speech that she should say these things, but he did not condemn the fact that the Liberal Party, tonight, at a Liberal Party fundraising dinner, were going to give her a platform to say more things that would probably be very damaging, hurtful and harmful to young people. The coalition government in this place should be condemning such outrageous, damaging and hurtful statements.

It is so sad, because we know that there are significant members of the Liberal Party—I understand the Attorney-General to be amongst them—that do support the rights of LGBTIQ young people, that do support the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people to marry. But by not condemning these statements, by accepting that it is okay for the Liberal Party to give her a platform, the government is being held back from accepting LGBTI young people. We are being held back by the dinosaurs of this party, who are giving people like Margaret Court a platform to be bigots and to be hateful, hurtful and damaging to young people. What we need is for the Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull, who I understand is also supportive of LGBTI people and marriage equality, to show some leadership and to say, 'No, we are no longer going to be held back by the dinosaurs in our party—we are going to take a stand and stand up to those dinosaurs' and to drag his party into the future—to drag his party into the present—to drag his party into supporting what we know a significant number of members of parliament in the Liberal Party and a majority of the parliamentarians here and in the House accept, and what we know a majority of people in Australia accept—that love is love and in the interests of achieving equality for LGBTIQ young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender should be able to marry the person that they love.

The Liberal Party, by continuing to condone the hateful views of people like Margaret Court by giving them a platform at a Liberal Party fundraiser, are just holding us back from where we know the Australian community is at. We know that if there were a free vote in this parliament we could achieve marriage equality tomorrow, but we are being held back by the dinosaurs that are putting on functions—Liberal Party functions!—for these hateful and harmful views to be heard, to be promulgated, to do damage in the general community and to hold back what we know is inevitable. We should be moving on with it. We need the Prime Minister and members of the Liberal and National parties who support rights for LGBTI people to show some leadership and say: 'Enough is enough. These dinosaur views belong in the past.' We need to be moving forward and allowing love to flourish.

Question agreed to.