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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 2043


Senator ROBERTS (Queensland) (20:20): As a servant of the people of Queensland and Australia I remind senators that the people have voted for a plebiscite by returning the government and by voting for our party, Pauline Hanson's One Nation party. Why disregard the people's verdict? Why are so many senators and members so scared of giving the right to decide marriage's future? Do such senators simply want to control the people? Do the Greens and the ALP have so little faith in Australians, fearing that an open debate will somehow be divisive and hateful? If so, why? Always beneath control there is fear. We have seen no evidence of hate to date; just respectful disagreement. It is the right of every person to express that respectful disagreement.

Some senators, amazingly, deride the plebiscite as an opinion poll. Does that not imply they think their election as a senator was an opinion poll? If it was, does that not question the legitimacy of their position in the Senate? Do senators blocking the people having a say simply fear a no vote will succeed, and are attempting to block it? This is, at its core, yet another issue of freedom versus control, with the usual suspects wanting to control the people that we are supposed to serve.

A plebiscite will provide legitimacy for the result, whichever way it goes. People who are in favour of gay marriage, if the vote goes that way, will accept it. The people who oppose gay marriage will also accept it because it is the people's view. A decision of politicians by politicians for politicians will not provide legitimacy for the result. There will be half the population aggrieved. Instead, a plebiscite will provide legitimacy, and that will provide freedom for all. Australian people must be allowed to have their say on marriage.

So, what is there to be so divisive about? My personal view is that there is nothing to prevent two people who love each other living together lovingly. That already occurs. If a union between two people of the same sex needs to be formalised, another form of celebrating and recognising that can occur. My view, however, is that marriage is between a man and a woman in accordance with the laws of nature. I freely recognise and applaud those who disagree with me. I uphold their right to have an alternative view. I understand there are strong opinions on this issue and I welcome diverse opinions, because they can only make us stronger and make the people's acceptance of the result so much stronger.

It is difficult to believe that senators are worried about the cost of a plebiscite when we have wasted almost $10.2 billion on desalination plants, with all but one mothballed immediately. That is almost enough for 70 plebiscites. Where is the outrage over that expense? Silence. Crickets. All this wasted expense was based on a forecast from a government funded serial misrepresenter of climate science. As I said in my first speech, so-called science expert Tim Flannery beclowned himself when he said that dams would never fill again. It was a wasted forecast—wasted billions, abused Australians. We are now witnessing the destruction of our economy. South Australia has already self-harmed with all the self-satisfied criminal ignorance of a child shredding a Rembrandt with a pair of scissors, and now other states are madly following. Am I to understand that we can flush billions of people's dollars away and destroy Australian livelihoods, jobs and lifestyles, yet not trust Australians with having the opportunity to exercise their say for a tiny fraction of that cost?

For those claiming now to be concerned about the public purse, allow me to make a suggestion: hold the plebiscite concurrently with the next federal election. There are ways of minimising the cost and maximising the debate. Respectful debate and honest sharing of opinions—let's have them. It is such freedoms that Australians are famous for. We are the people who believe in a fair go for all, including for those with whom we disagree—unless, of course, you disagree with the leftist agenda of control over freedom. For those who support and speak for freedom, we must give Australians a voice.