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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2183


Mr SIMPKINS (Cowan) (18:03): I realised I had an opportunity to make a few comments on the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012, brought forward by the member for Throsby, as I understand it. Obviously this is an issue of which there have been a lot of strong opinions passed. Certainly it is the case that my office and email are no strangers to being contacted by those who have these strong opinions. I value the opinions of all those who have contacted me to offer them. As I have said before, I particularly value those who have created something personal. Whilst I still acknowledge the value of those who have sent a formal email through, I do particularly value those who have given their personal perspective on it. I would note that of those who have contacted my office, it remains quite categorical: 1,004 people have contacted my office and expressed a view against same sex marriage; 144 have expressed a view for a change consistent with this bill that is before the House. I know that it is important, particularly for us as members of parliament, that people know who they are voting for and that they know if we say something before an election then we will comply with that. There have been in the past other times where it has been clearly said when an issue comes up that there will be a free vote on this or that particular matter, but in this case it was very clearly the coalition's policy before the election—in fact, I think it was both sides' pre-election commitment—that there would be no change to the definition of marriage, and we stand by that.

That being said, as we are the party where you can actually have your own ideas and you are actually able to vote contrary to the team if you believe so strongly in that, it is definitely the case that a conscience vote does exist on our side. It always does. We do not get thrown out of our party or disendorsed if we offer a conscience vote or if we believe so strongly in something. We will not just toe the line as others might have to, because if we stand up and we talk about something then it is what we believe in.

The reality is that our side remains opposed to a change in the definition of marriage. I personally opposed a change in the definition of marriage. I value those people that have given me their thoughts on the matter and I have responded to all those people, identifying where we stand and how I will be supporting the party position, because that was the position we took to the last election and we will stand by it. I stand on this bill and I stand against it, and I think that what is required is that we comply with what we said before the election. We will be doing that, unlike others.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member should note that it is a private member's bill when he is discussing it.