Bill's Transcripts

Joy FM -





SUBJECT/S: Marriage equality.


HOST: Good morning Bill.




HOST: How are you?


SHORTEN: I’m good, if there’s a bit of background noise, I’m at my daughter’s netball game, but I’ve gone to a quiet spot to take –


HOST: Are you umpiring Bill?


SHORTEN: No, no, I’ll leave that to the experts.


HOST: Indeed, the Marriage Equality Bill that you’re putting before the Parliament on Monday, talk us through why the decision came now.


SHORTEN: Well I’ve supported marriage equality for years, I voted for it when there was legislation in 2012, in fact I addressed the Australian Christian Lobby last year and explained how I viewed that being a Christian and supporting marriage equality were entirely compatible, but in particular the timing this week is prompted by the Irish referendum over the weekend, which two to one the people of Ireland voted to support marriage equality. I woke up like a lot of Australians and thought well if they can do it, why can’t we? Ireland is a country that has a special consciousness in Australia of course because so many of us have got Irish decedents but also it’s famously quite a Catholic and religious nation, but if they could go do marriage equality, well the time’s right again with renewed interest in Australia to get the momentum going again.


HOST: Dare I say it Bill, it’s time.


SHORTEN: It’s the right time.


HOST: Now it looks like the Prime Minister’s moved a little bit on this and we know there are a number of colleagues – call them that – on the other side of the House that are very supportive of this, and the Greens – this is a really important issue for Australia but also it’s a very important issue for my community, is this going to be a bipartisan Bill, can we make that happen?


SHORTEN: It has to be a bipartisan approach, the only way it can happen – Labor on its own, we have a free vote but the vast bulk of Labor MPs support marriage equality, but we don’t have enough votes on our own to secure it. It shouldn’t be a party political matter, but there’s no doubt that myself and Labor pushing it has now I think got the conservative party to ask the questions will they allow a free vote, will Tony Abbott allow a free vote for his people? There’s a lot of people of goodwill interested in marriage equality from all points of view, from Greens, in the Liberals and of course Labor, but the block, to be honest, the game in town is will the Liberal Party allow a free vote.


HOST: Bill some have described the move as cynical, I don’t want to agree with that point of view, but was this introduced to kind of stave off the call for a binding vote from the ALP on marriage equality?


SHORTEN: No, no, I really reject some of the attacks of doing this – does anyone think this weekend we would be debating marriage equality if I and Labor hadn’t put it on the table during the course of the week?


HOST: Absolutely not.


SHORTEN: If there was no, you know, legislation being put in the Parliament on Monday, there’d be just a whole lot of now’s just not the right time or you know, blah, blah, blah. In terms of the Labor Party, we have a policy to support marriage equality, we allow a conscience vote – the vast bulk of Labor MPs would vote for marriage equality. If we want to secure bipartisanship you referred to earlier, I happen to believe a free vote is the best way to go because otherwise, if Labor doesn’t allow a free vote then you get the issue where some of the opponents of marriage equality in the Liberal Party might say well if they’re binding everyone to vote for it, we must bind everyone to vote against it, and what we need to do is get it beyond that sort of tit for tat politics, people just don’t understand why we don’t have marriage equality now and we’ve got to just provide the momentum to answer that question that we can.


HOST: I mean the challenge here is going to be, I mean, marriage equality say that on the counting of the numbers they think there’s a majority of one for this in the House of Reps and probably a similar amount in the Senate – it really needs to be more than one doesn’t it, because my fear is that one or two of the supporters might get picked off by some pretty strong lobbying. Of terms of within the Labor Party, how hard are you lobbying your colleagues to support this, I know a lot of them have changed their minds, Anna Burke being the most recent, but this is a real challenge isn’t it because -


SHORTEN: Well first of all there can be no marriage equality unless the Liberal Party allow a free vote –


HOST: Support it -


SHORTEN: It’s a free vote. Now if they say  that there’s a free vote, now I think the numbers are there because I think there’s another set of numbers that you didn’t go to in your question is – what does the community think?


HOST: Yes.


SHORTEN: And I believe the vast majority of the community think fair enough, if people want to get married and they’re in a committed relationship they should be allowed to, and their sexual preference should have nothing to do with it. I also think once people study the actual Bill that we’ve put forward, that I’m putting forward on Monday, we’re not requiring priests to solemnise same sex marriages in their churches if it’s against their religion, I just don’t want to stop people from getting married if they want to get married. So I think a lot of the fear about what we’re proposing will evaporate, so when we’re talk about margins of votes in Parliament, I think there’s a lot of people who probably think oh well, actually maybe I’ve got myself all worked up about a fear campaign which isn’t really true. So I’m confident, as you said, it’s time.


HOST: It is a social, civil and legal construct, you don’t apply to the church for a marriage licence, you apply to a government for a marriage licence so in that sense it makes greats sense. We’ve seen moves this week from Darren Chester a National MP from Gippsland in Victoria, Greg Hunt who’s a Liberal, the Environment Minister in the current government, Ewan Jones from North Queensland and as we said Anna Burke. Is seeing these shifts from some of those former opponents, does that give you some hope Bill that we can actually make this happen?


SHORTEN: I know all those people and if someone doesn’t want to vote for it I’m not going try to twist their arm or castigate them, but I think a lot of people are just reaching a point where they actually realise what’s the fuss? If two people are in a committed relationship and they want to get married, why shouldn’t they be able to?


HOST: It’s been a line of ours for a long time, the sky’s not going to fall down. It didn’t fall down in Canada, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, the UK.


SHORTEN: You know, on Sunday morning in Ireland they all woke up it was still there.


HOST: Exactly and the churches didn’t collapse. Bill we’ve got one more question for you that doesn’t involve marriage equality, it is our radiothon this weekend and we’re very interested to have you as a member of our organisation, could we convince you to join us?


SHORTEN: Yes. I was driving my daughter to netball this morning, Saturday’s my sort of quieter day thank goodness, in an otherwise pretty crazy set of days and weeks, but we put on 94.9 and I said – I was listening to the radiothon and I thought I’ll brace myself for this question and say yes I will join.


HOST: Fantastic, well get the visa card out we’re going to put you back to Cassie who’s -


SHORTEN: I don’t have to read my visa card on air, on radio?


HOST: No, No. It’s 96 bucks for a family if you want to round that up, donations over $2 are tax deductible think of it this way, you’re not just helping Joy, you’re actually taking some money off Joe Hockey, because it’s tax deductible.


HOST: Although you’ll have to declare it so -


SHORTEN: I’m happy to just to back you, that’s fine.


HOST: Bill thank you very much. We’re thrilled that you could join us this morning and we’ll pop you back to Cassie and good on you.


SHORTEN: So I don’t have to read my visa card?


HOST: No, no not on air.


SHORTEN: Thank you.


HOST: That’s Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition putting a marriage equality bill into the Federal Parliament on Monday, and becoming a Joy member.