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Tuesday, 8 August 2017
Page: 7740

Mr MARLES (Corio) (16:12): I want to start today by saying that I believe achieving marriage equality is the right thing to do, and it is the right thing to do right now. Like many, perhaps all, of my parliamentary colleagues across the House and the other place, I've been engaged on this issue for many years, listening to constituents and speaking with a number of community groups, both here in Parliament House and in my electorate. The issue is a complex one, and there are many different points of view. Again, like many colleagues, I have gone through a process of understanding that there are some who hold strong religious objections to marriage equality. Part of the pathway of moving down this road is to ensure that religious freedoms are in the same breath enshrined as we put marriage equality forward. This is an important realisation to have from my point of view and one which came about by virtue of the consultation that I have undertaken and from meeting those who have sought to represent their case to me. But I have done nothing special there. That is simply the work of a member of parliament, which we are all asked to engage in and which we are all ultimately elected and paid to do. It is because of that work that we should now act on the fruits of that work and vote on this issue in this parliament. It is what we are being asked to do, it is what we were elected to do and it is what we should do.

Micky from Geelong wrote to me and said that he is counting on my support to get marriage equality passed. Melissa from Leopold wrote in to say, 'The fact I can marry whoever I choose and my brother has to wait for the Australian public to approve of his sexuality is ludicrous at best. Let's just make it law and let's be done with it.' I couldn't agree more. Carole from Newtown wrote to say, 'I firmly believe that Australians deserve the same opportunities to marry whoever they choose. I would hope that if any of my grandchildren were gay, they could have that right too.' Lyndal from Hamlyn Heights wrote in to say: 'Let's create a more inclusive country together; please do the right thing.' Let's do the right thing—I couldn't put that sentiment better myself. It is past time Malcolm Turnbull did the right thing by getting out of the way and letting this parliament do its work of getting on with the job of having a vote. It would leave a legacy that he could be proud of. This is something we have the power to do.

Former Prime Minister John Howard was able to make changes to the Marriage Act which gave rise to the current law via a simple vote of the parliament. We can achieve marriage equality in exactly the same way. We don't need a plebiscite, postal or otherwise. We just need to get on with the job of getting this done. The parliament is ready; the Australian people are ready. It is time to get marriage equality passed.