WEDNESDAY, 27 MAY 2015
SUBJECT/S: National Security; Marriage Equality.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten joins us now. Bill good morning to you, now should Khaled Sharrouf’s wife and children be allowed to come back?
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I haven't been briefed by the security agencies on what’s proposed but like all Australians, I was revolted when I saw those photos. I think those children are probably the victims of, effectively child abuse. They should never have been taken there, but before I make any comment I’d like to hear from the security agencies, what’s actually happening?
ARMYTAGE: But personally, I mean what do you do with a family, a wife and children, what do you believe you do with people like this?
SHORTEN: Well, there is no doubt, Sam, when you look at those photos, the children and the way that they were set up in a photo and part of the terrible scenes of war, as a parent, I think that's just child abuse. But in terms of the best way to handle this, I will be briefed by the Government and we’ll take a sensible approach and we’ll also see what the agencies are actually saying as opposed to just the rumours.
ARMYTAGE: Okay, if they return, which I mean as Australian citizens, it seems that they probably will have to return, they would have to be monitored I imagine, and how would you feel or Australian parents feel about kids like this who’ve been through this, being at play group or school with your kids?
SHORTEN: Well, that's really tough, isn't it? I make it very clear that people who’ve gone overseas to be foreign fighters should face the full force of the law. What has happened to these kids though, I don't know, we just need to get to the facts. They will be scarred. I cannot understand any parent who would take their children to these war zones and subject them to those things that we saw on the photos. That is, so far away removed from what parents who love their kids would do. You know, I just don't understand what would be in the mind of these people – this parent, this father to do this. It defies all parenting, love and logic, doesn't it?
ARMYTAGE: Absolutely. Okay, we want to talk to you about your Private Members Bill next week to legalise same-sex marriage. Are you just jumping on the bandwagon following the referendum at the weekend in Ireland?
SHORTEN: No, I voted for this when it first came into the Parliament in 2012. Last year I spoke to Australian Christian Lobby about why I believe it's possible to be a Christian and support marriage equality. But there’s no doubt that the Irish referendum on the weekend has shown that a number of other countries have decided that marriage equality is okay. I think we do need to have the debate again in the Parliament, in the House of Representatives. I’m the leader of the Labor Party, we won’t force our MPs to vote for it, although most Labor MPs will vote for marriage equality - I just think the time is right for marriage equality in Australia.
ARMYTAGE: Okay, for a vote to proceed the Government has to approve debate on the issue?
SHORTEN: That's right.
ARMYTAGE: Do you that will happen?
SHORTEN: I’d be shocked if the Government said they wouldn't debate the issue. Now I get that there’s an issue, some Liberals want a free vote, others don't. I get that people have different views on marriage equality. I think this is a matter though which shouldn't be partisan, you know, Labor one way, Liberal the other way. I just think Australia needs to move forward and catch up with the times. The idea that you can have second class citizens because of who they love, to me doesn't work - it’s out of date, and we need to be I think a more inclusive nation and this is an overdue change.
ARMYTAGE: Okay. Bill Shorten, thanks for your time today.
SHORTEN: Thanks, see you.
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