Subject: Marriage equality.
LISA WILKINSON: Welcome back to the show. There’s been a shocking turn of events overnight in the same sex marriage debate – Tony Abbott head-butted by a Yes supporter as he left a meeting in Hobart. The former Prime Minister was left with a swollen lip and now police are hunting his attacker. For more I’m joined now by Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, coming to us from Adelaide this morning, and Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese. Good morning to both of you
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Lisa.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
WILKINSON: Christopher, you weren’t in Hobart yesterday were you?
PYNE: No Lisa, that isn’t even funny.
WILKINSON: Well here’s the truth, whatever side you’re on in this debate, this is truly shocking.
PYNE: Absolutely, and people shouldn’t be physically attacked for having a different view about marriage equality, nor should they be attacked at the football for barracking for a different football team to the person sitting next to them. It’s an unAustralian thing to do, and I hope that Tony’s okay. I’m sure he will be. But it’s a nasty shock and it should be condemned, obviously condemned.
WILKINSON: Anthony, it has turned really nasty.
ALBANESE: Well there’s absolutely no place for violence or intimidation in Australian politics. We pride ourselves on being able to have respectful debate. One of the issues though, that I think has got to be said, is that in this city, there were people taken and bashed because of their sexuality. For a long period of time that was very common. We have made significant advances in treating people with respect regardless of their sexuality. We need to be tolerant in how we deal with this debate, but I am, every time people speak about vilification, in my lifetime, people who I know, suffered serious violence because they happened to be gay.
WILKINSON: So here’s the thing, how do we rein in the anger and get back to having a reasoned discussion on a very important issue, Christopher?
PYNE: Well Lisa, people need to focus on the truth, and the truth is that this is a question about whether you think that two people who love each other should be able to get married to each other if they choose to do so. In this debate there’s been far too many red herrings being raised about things like the curriculum in schools, gender fluidity, religious freedom. These aren’t the issues. Now, the people who are arguing for the No campaign, they should argue why traditional marriage should remain as it is, rather than focusing on the issues that have nothing to do at all with the question people are being asked, and then we can have a very clear and reasoned debate about whether people think that two people of the same sex should be able to marry in the same way that you have, Anthony has, and I have.
WILKINSON: Well you’ve just named all of the things that Tony Abbott has got a problem with. This is all happening against a backdrop of …
ALBANESE: But the question is Lisa, Christopher’s right. He doesn’t really have a problem with them. He raises them because they’re not debating the real issue that’s before the Australian people. That is a very simple issue. And I saw Mr Howard talking to Channel Nine last night.
WILKINSON: That’s right. In fact let’s have a look at that. A former Prime Minister of the Liberal persuasion, John Howard, weighed in on the debate last night, accusing the Government of being vague and not giving enough detail. Nine’s new political editor, Chris Uhlmann, sat down with Mr Howard. Here’s what he had to say.
JOHN HOWARD: I’m not questioning the Prime Minister’s motives. I obviously disagree with him quite fundamentally on the substance of this issue, but I do think the public is entitled to have more detail. Let me give you an example. When my government was introducing the Goods and Services Tax, we didn’t just say to the public, oh we’ll look after that, I can guarantee that you’ll be protected. We actually explained in detail how we were going to do it.
WILKINSON: That was former Prime Minister John Howard last night. Albo, I’m going to give you the last word, does he have a good point there? That there are certain things about this legislation that should be clarified that may change people’s idea on whether they want to vote yes or no?
ALBANESE: Well I did see the interview. I hope Chris Uhlmann gets tougher in future interviews on Channel Nine, because he didn’t ask the obvious question. The GST, John Howard said there would never, ever be one. What we have here is a great level of consultation. We have a draft bill, drafted by Senator Smith, that is the product of extensive public hearings through a Senate committee process, a unanimous report (it doesn’t happen very often) that would deal with all of the issues of religious freedom, it’s there for all to see.
WILKINSON: And yet people still feel confused, but unfortunately we’ve run out of time Albo.
ALBANESE: Well not many people follow Senate committee processes but it’s been done, and former Prime Minister Howard would know full well that there’s a draft bill out there for all to see that he can examine, as can others. But this is about one issue.
WILKINSON: It clearly hasn’t been properly communicated; we’re going to have to leave it there. Albo, Christopher, have a great weekend.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
PYNE: Go Crows! Go the Crows! Check out my tie!
ALBANESE: Good luck Christopher.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.