Aug 11, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subject; Marriage equality survey

LISA WILKINSON: Joining me now for more on this is Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, joining us from Canberra by the looks of things and Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, good morning to both of you.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Lisa.

WILKINSON: Christopher, to you first, don’t you do household surveys on dishwashing liquid, not something as sensitive and significant as this?

PYNE: Well Lisa, we promised every Australian a say at the last election and it’s exactly what we are going to deliver.

WILKINSON: That sounds very flippant, though, to describe it as that.

PYNE: It’s not, actually. We wanted people to have a chance to be part of this major social change. I support marriage equality and I want every Australian to feel that they’ve had a part in that decision. That’s what we promised at the election and that’s what we are going to deliver.

Now, Labor’s voted against a compulsory attendance plebiscite so we’re going to do it the best way we can, which is through a postal plebiscite, and I think that works perfectly well.

Everyone will get to vote. I’m glad that Labor is not proposing that there should be a boycott.

That will return a yes vote I believe because I think people think it’s time for marriage equality and then by Christmas we can have it in this country as we have in so many other western democracies around the world.

WILKINSON: Okay. Can I just read you something that Michael McCormack who is the minister in charge of this postal vote once said about gay people and I’m quoting here, Christopher: “A week never goes by anymore that homosexuals and their sordid behavior don’t become further entrenched in society. Unfortunately gays are here, and if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn’t wipe out humanity, they’re here to stay.”

Christopher, is this man fit to be put in charge of this postal vote when he is capable of comments like that?

PYNE: Well first of all, Michael is not the minister responsible for the plebiscite. The Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann is. Regardless of that though those comments are obviously unacceptable.

WILKINSON: He’s head of the ABS which has an overall responsibility for this.

PYNE: No, no. But the facts are… I’m not… I don’t want to quibble about it. The remarks he’s made are quite unacceptable. I don’t agree with them and I think that they are very unfortunate. I don’t know how long ago he made those remarks.

WILKINSON: They were made in 1993. Is he homophobic?

PYNE: I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him.

WILKINSON: They sound like pretty firmly entrenched views. If somebody thinks that, they think that.

PYNE: Well, it’s a very unpleasant thing to say and I’m sure he regrets it but he isn’t the minister responsible for the plebiscite.

The Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann is but regardless of that those remarks are not acceptable in modern society. I don’t agree with them and he should distance himself from them.

WILKINSON: Albo to you now – there is no other piece of legislation that has ever been decided by a non-binding, non-compulsory postal vote on anybody’s human rights in this country. Why is Labor backing it?

ALBANESE: Labor isn’t backing it. Labor very clearly has opposed this. We think we could have gotten this job done in the parliament by parliamentarians doing what we’re paid to do.


ALBANESE: And eventually that is how it is going to be decided. Everyone needs to understand that this requires a vote of the parliament and that will happen.

Now, the real question is will it happen at the end of this year, if people vote yes in this voluntary postal vote, or will it happen under a Labor government after the next election?

WILKINSON: But your problem is Malcolm Turnbull went to the election promising a plebiscite. He won the election. He had a mandate.

ALBANESE: Oh, come on Lisa. We all know that Malcolm Turnbull has thrown out promises like confetti and it hasn’t mattered at all.

PYNE: That’s not true, actually. Name one promise that he’s broken.

ALBANESE: Oh, come on. The cuts to education.

PYNE: No, no. We’re doing exactly what we promised to do.

ALBANESE: All the changes to social security, the changes in the Senate all the time.

Pieces of legislation after legislation. Malcolm Turnbull says that he believes in marriage equality but doesn’t have the ticker to do anything to actually achieve it and this debate will be divisive.

That’s the truth of the matter. We will see homophobia out there encouraged by this debate. That is one of the reasons why we opposed the plebiscite. But given that theypostal vote is going to happen, we will be strongly advocating a vote for yes.

We’ll be out there campaigning for equality because it’s in Labor’s DNA to oppose discrimination. I spoke in my first speech in the parliament about removing discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, but also sexuality and it is time that this got done and that’s why I’ll be advocating strongly for a yes vote and people should get on the roll.

WILKINSON: So Christopher, if this non-binding vote on same-sex marriage does get up, it’s non-binding. What happens next?

PYNE: Well, if the Australian public vote for marriage equality and I hope that they will and I’ll be voting yes, and campaigning for a yes vote, then the parliament will introduce legislation.

It’ll be passed by Christmas and of course, people can always use their conscience not to vote for something that they wish to, but I would have thought it would be overwhelming for politicians to listen to the views of the public on these matters and if they don’t they have to face the public at the ballot box.

But whether it’s binding or not doesn’t really matter. The truth is that the Australian public express a view and politicians then choose not to listen to them, well then they will face the consequences.

WILKINSON: Unfortunately Christopher and Albo, we’re going to have to leave it there. Thanks a lot. Have a great weekend both of you.

PYNE: Thank you.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.