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Wednesday, 24 August 1994
Page: 232


Senator COLLINS (Minister for Primary Industries and Energy) (3.27 p.m.) —I simply rise to distance myself as far as I possibly can from the position of Senator Abetz on this issue. I particularly distance myself from the atrocious press statement that he issued in Tasmania which was headlined, `Federalism perverted to allow sodomy and incest'.


Senator Abetz —Of course it was; federalism was perverted.


Senator COLLINS —Senator Abetz says that again, and he claims he is a barrister. I do not agree with everything that Margo Kingston says, but I must say I agree with what she said in the Canberra Times of Wednesday, 24 August. I am glad that Senator Abetz has just reiterated in the chamber that he stands by the accuracy of that statement. Margo Kingston accurately pointed out the fact—and Senator Abetz as a barrister should have some regard for this—that whatever one's views are on this subject, what has been done by the federal government has left completely untouched the law of incest that Senator Abetz has just stood by again. The fact is that leaving aside all other issues, Senator Abetz's press statement is factually wrong.

  The reason that I rise to distance myself as far from Senator Abetz's position as I possibly can is to at the same time applaud what I honestly believe were the very moderate and sensible statements made by the Leader of the Opposition, Alexander Downer, on this same issue, as quoted in this article by Margo Kingston. I want to put them on the record in the Senate because I believe they represent a moderate and sensible approach by Alexander Downer. I think Senator Abetz would applaud the fact that Mr Downer comes across—I do not know Senator Abetz's family particularly well but I know Alexander fairly well—as a fairly typical family man in terms of his views on this subject. I want to applaud and associate myself with the remarks made by Alexander Downer in the article by Margo Kingston. He said:

. . . his party was "pretty relaxed about people's sexual preference".

In response to a specific question about whether one of his children may at some point turn out to be gay, Alexander Downer said, and this happens to be my view also:

It would be his or her choice. They're too young for me to have any idea what their sexuality might be. Statistically they're more likely to be heterosexual . . . If one or all of them became homosexual, that's their business.

I agree with that. I also agree with Margo Kingston's conclusion in this article. She states:

Yesterday in the joint party meeting, Mr Downer congratulated Senator Abetz on the birth two weeks ago of his third child, a son. Cross your fingers he doesn't turn out to be gay or to enjoy sex in anything but the missionary position.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.