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Monday, 18 March 2013
Page: 2463

Mr HAASE (Durack) (11:00): In 2004, the coalition amended the Marriage Act 1961 to define in legislation the common understanding in our community of marriage—that is, the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life. The coalition continues to believe that the majority of the Australian community agree with that definition. This definition does not in any way seek to prevent or discourage people from entering into same-sex relationships but, rather, simply recognises marriage as one of the bedrock institutions of society, which is the basis for forming families and which is underpinned by tradition. The coalition will not support legislation that would alter the status of traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

The coalition in the past supported the passage of the government's same-sex reform legislation on the condition that nothing in its terms affected the status and centrality of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. We believe it is important to send this strong signal about the special status of marriage. The coalition continues to remain committed to these principles and will not support future legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry in Australia.

This is indeed a contentious issue but it is a contentious issue that is driven by a minority of the Australian population. The reality of the situation is simply this: that we are not all born the same. We are by our very nature possessing of personalities and physical traits. We are different, and it is up to good governance in our society to provide a framework for behaviour—a framework that broadly embraces what is acceptable on a day-to-day basis as being our culture.

One of the things, as I have just said, is that we accept that marriage has a sanctity. It is different to other relationships. It is covered by law, and that law defines that marriage condition as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life. If one wants to engage in a relationship that is not a relationship between a man and a woman, is not entered into voluntarily or is not for life then that relationship is not marriage. I for one, and the coalition at large, agrees that that is the situation and, no matter how hard we may wish it, those who are not a man and a woman—those who may be of the same sex in a relationship—cannot therefore at law refer to themselves as married. And why not? Because they are simply not a man and a woman.

The sanctity of marriage that I speak of is such that when a couple court and marry, create a home and a loving environment, we hope that that will be rewarded with the production of children and those children will be brought up as members of our society. That is what we speak of when we speak of the sanctity of marriage, and that relationship, that union, ought to be respected at law by Australians. It is our culture. It is our law. It is a productive situation that is rational, that nurtures and provides the environment to nurture children and those children then become members of our society, responsible, law-abiding members of our society who will largely follow in the footsteps of their parents, we trust, and follow the laws of this country. I state again that the law of this country is that marriage is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life, and that law ought remain for time into the future.