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Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Page: 9331

Mr CROOK (O'Connor) (12:27): As the member for O'Connor, it is my primary responsibility to represent the views of my constituents in parliament on all issues. Over the past several months I have invited feedback from the electorate regarding their views on same-sex marriage. I regularly send a newsletter to my constituents containing information on a variety of issues taking place both in Canberra and through the electorate.

In my newsletter, I requested that constituents contact my office and share their views with me on same-sex marriage. I also advertised this issue in a number of newspapers throughout the electorate. I note, after listening to many of the speeches this morning, that the results that I received were indicative of those in many electorates across Australia. I received 612 responses on this issue, and I thank those people who felt compelled to respond. To break the figures down, I received 373 letters, 138 emails and 12 phone calls, a total of 523 responses, from the constituents of O'Connor highlighting that they do not support same-sex marriage. I received 71 letters, 13 emails and five phone calls, a total of 89 responses, from constituents who support same-sex marriage.

An overwhelming majority of responses felt that marriage is a permanent union between a man and a woman. I would like to acknowledge that the feedback I received by no means represents all constituents of my electorate. That said, I do believe that the comments and feedback I have received broadly reflect the attitude of the electorate towards same-sex marriage. I hope that this position can be understood as being without any disrespect to same-sex relationships. I believe our society needs to continue to have a civilised discussion around this issue. It is vitally important that our society works to remove discrimination against sexual preference.

Many speeches that we heard earlier today reflect that members of parliament right across Australia welcome this discussion, regardless of their political preference. My position is not meant to be disrespectful to those who support same-sex marriage, and I respect the loving relationships that they may share with one another. I believe the electorate of O'Connor is supportive of removing discrimination against sexual preference, while still maintaining the sanctity of marriage as a permanent union between a man and a woman.