BILLS -- Marriage Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2012 -- Second Reading

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (11:18): I rise to speak on the Marriage Amendment Bill (No.2) 2012. Two of my wife's and my best friends are a gay couple who have lived in a loving, caring, committed relationship for over 35 years. No change of the definition of the word marriage will ever impact on that relationship. In their own eyes, in mine and in the eyes of most Australians, they are no less equal than any other Australians because of the definition of marriage. I believe that marriage is a union between men and women and for that reason and for other reasons that I will very briefly mention, I will not be supporting the bill.

I have listened to many of the speeches in this chamber over the last three days, many of those speeches from both sides of the argument have been thoughtful and sincere. In particular, I note two very fine speeches just this morning from Senators Humphries and Madigan. Because of time constraints on this bill, I will not be repeating the arguments of others.

Prior to the last election, we promised to restore fairness to returned servicemen with their pension issues, and people voted for us because of that promise. We made good our promise by introducing a private member's bill to honour that commitment we made.

We also promised at the last election that we would oppose a carbon tax if it were ever to be introduced by the Labor Party. We and all other Australians were assured by the leader and deputy leader of the Labor Party that there would be no carbon tax. People voted for us and they voted for the Labor Party on the basis of that promise that there would be no carbon tax. We, at the next election, will promise to repeal the carbon tax and, if we win, we will repeal it because we will make a promise and we will honour that promise.

We promised also before the last election and previous elections not to interfere with the time-honoured and Christian definition of marriage, and so did the Labor leader. People voted for us and they also voted for Labor senators in this chamber on the basis of that promise that both parties would not countenance a change in the definition. So today's debate is really not about fairness, equity or principles; it is a matter of trust. Australians expect that, if their leaders and political parties make promises, they will honour those promises. Today in opposing this bill, again we are honouring the promise we made to the Australian people; we are honouring our policy commitment, which I supported then and support now; and we are discharging a commitment we made for which people voted for us.

With the Australian economy in tatters and with $120 billion worth of unfunded promises, we find that for three days, instead of discussing those issues, we are discussing this issue, which, as I say, is nothing about principles, equality or lack of human rights for gay people; it is all about pure power. After the Prime Minister promised that her party would oppose this, the Greens have come along and said, 'We will withdraw our support for your government and you won't be Prime Minister anymore unless you allow this bill to go ahead.' So, for pure power reasonsit is all about powerjust to remain as Prime Minister, the Prime Minister will trash any promise she makes where it does not suit her interest.

As I say, I will not be supporting this. I will be honouring the commitment that my party made. I will be honouring the policy we tooka policy which I agree with and which I adopted. I was happy to go to at least the last two federal elections making that commitment. It accords with my beliefs and I will not be supporting the bill.

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