WEDNESDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2016
SUBJECT/S: Marriage equality
DAVID KOCH, HOST: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten joins me now live from Canberra. Mr Shorten, thanks for joining us.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning.
KOCH: The Government has a mandate to go ahead with this plebiscite. What gives you the right to stop it?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, it is not a good idea spending $200 million on tax payer money on a vote which is compulsory for
15 million people to participate in, if don't you get fined –
KOSH: But they went to the election on it and won.
SHORTEN: Just because they went to the election, does not make a bad idea a good idea. Mr Turnbull, used to, last year, support having a parliamentary vote. We've looked, and in the last few weeks, I have met with families, I met with young gay people, I met with people in committed relationships, I spoke to mental health experts, they were all unanimous. They said this is a harmful way to achieve marriage equality. People said the price isn't worth paying. We'd see homophobia and hate speech. Why should gay people in Australia have to go through a law-making process no one else does? Why do their relationships have to have an opinion poll?
KOSH: So, you are sort of not trusting the Australian people to actually have a civil debate on this?
SHORTEN: No, that's not fair at all, David. What I am recognising is the evidence. Most people are capable of having a modern attitude towards gay people, but I think that it is reckless to ignore the lived experience of gay people, to ignore the advice of the Australian of the Year and mental health expert, Professor Patrick McGorry. No one can guarantee that there won't be harm. In fact, the experts said there would.
And the other thing is there is another way to make a law in Australia - you get the Parliament to vote. I mean, $200 million, just because of a political deal that Tony Abbott concocted and Malcolm Turnbull is too weak to oppose, is it really worth paying the price for people in committed relationships –
KOSH: Ok, you do make some fair points, ok, there is no doubt about that. But the trade-off is you could put this whole thing back years.
SHORTEN: First of all, parliament meets 19 weeks of the year. If the Liberal Party just let its MPs have a free vote, then we could do it in a day. The overwhelming view of Australians is just let's just get on with it. But this would be the first time in 100 years that MPs have contracted out decision making. We don't do that on any other changes to the Marriage Act. We don't do that in any other set of circumstances. Why do gay people have to go through a different process for making laws? Do you know when we decriminalised homosexuality, we didn't have a plebiscite. When we removed discrimination in a range of laws, we didn't have a plebiscite.
KOSH: Ok, alright. You do make some really good points. Bill Shorten, thanks for joining us.
SHORTEN: Thank you.