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Transcript of doorstop interview: Canberra Airport: 9 October 2016: plebiscite for same-sex marriage; Rudd; Solicitor-General

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9 October 2016

Topics: Plebiscite for Same-Sex Marriage, Rudd, Solicitor-General


JOURNALIST: OK Senator Brandis, Labor today has been saying that the same-sex plebiscite is expensive and divisive and damaging. What's your response to that?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Well I have two things to say about that. First of all, the plebiscite, which will include all Australians in this important decision, was a policy that the Government took to the election, and was endorsed by the people at the election. What the Labor Party is saying is the Government should break an election promise and we're not going to do that. If a plebiscite were to be held, and the public opinion poll evidence is very strong that it would be overwhelmingly carried, then we would have marriage equality in Australia by February next year. That is what the Labor Party is seeking to prevent. The second point I'd make to you is this, if the Labor Party thinks that this debate is divisive then why not get it over and done with because one thing we know for sure is that if there's not a plebiscite next February, this debate will go on. It will go on potentially for years. So if the Labor Party is of the view that it is a divisive debate, surely it wants to put that debate behind us.

JOURNALIST: Labor is taking it to caucus on Tuesday. What's your message to them?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: That's my message. If you believe in marriage equality as I do, and as I believe the overwhelming number of Labor members do, then this is the most immediate and the only feasible opportunity for marriage equality in the foreseeable future. Thank you.

JOURNALIST: Kevin Rudd is back in the spotlight today. Should the Government have done more in his bid, perhaps even to reassure Botswana that they wouldn't actively campaign against him?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: I think we have heard quite enough about Mr Rudd for one lifetime. Every new story about Mr Rudd, including his latest African adventures, becomes more and more weird and bizarre. I think Mr Rudd should be allowed to retreat peacefully into the pages of Australian history and we can get on with it. Thank you.

JOURNALIST: Does he not have a role in the UN? Would he be good at that job?

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ATTORNEY-GENERAL: I've said enough, thank you.

JOURNALIST: Also, can I ask you, is there a need, why is there a need for Ministers to get your approval before seeking advice from the Solicitor-General?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: That's what the law says. It is what section 12B of the Law Officers Act requires.

JOURNALIST: Does this affect your relationship with the Solicitor-General?