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Wednesday, 16 September 2015
Page: 7039

Senator CAROL BROWN (Tasmania) (17:24): I want to take a few minutes to commend the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee report and support the recommendation that 'a bill to amend the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act 1961 to allow for the marriage between two people regardless of their sex is introduced into the Parliament as a matter of urgency, with all parliamentarians being allowed a conscience vote'. I congratulate the committee on the report and say to the Senate that not that many weeks ago a number of senators were able to attend rallies held all around the country supporting marriage equality. I attended one of those rallies and I was happy to be able to speak there. I said to the thousands of people that were there that the only thing standing in the way of marriage equality and a marriage equality debate in parliament was Mr Abbott. Unfortunately I have been proven wrong. I was very disappointed, as I know many thousands of Australians around the country who have campaigned on this issue for decades were disappointed, to hear that the new Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull, has been locked into having a plebiscite—a minister who previously supported marriage equality has now been locked into a position that by all accounts, including Mr Pyne's account, was a decision by a coalition caucus room which was branch stacked.

I want to take a few moments to put on record my support for the report and my appreciation of the work that the chair and the other senators who have signed up to the report have done. I say to members of the community who might be listening and to those thousands of people who have worked on this issue for decades, as well as to those who have come to it lately, that we do need to press on and we do need to put the argument that a plebiscite is not the way to go. The parliament is the place where this issue should be debated, with a free vote for all. That is what we do here. This is the work that we do. I commend the report to the Senate and seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.