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Tuesday, 28 November 2017
Page: 8927

Senator HANSON (Queensland) (10:31): As I stated last night, this is a very important issue for Australians, and I understand it. We've just had a plebiscite with regard to the same-sex marriage survey and the bill that's before the parliament, the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017. What I want to put on record is my concerns and those of many Australians. Yes, we had 61 per cent that voted yes for the survey, yet 39 per cent voted no, and a further 21 per cent did not vote at all or didn't have the opportunity to vote. The whole survey, as I said from the very beginning, I believe should have been a referendum to the people so we defined in our Constitution what we, the people, agree to as being marriage between two people—whether Australians agreed with it being between a man and a woman or it being between those of the same sex.

My concern is that, in time to come, the parliament and its members could at any time change this to include multiple marriages or marriages of people under a certain age, and I don't believe that will be the will of the people. If it were a referendum, it would be enshrined in the Constitution and could not be changed by parliament but only by the people. We see the ever-changing face of our society, where we know that there are multiple marriages in our communities, and yet it is not being addressed.

What concerns me greatly is that the survey reminds me of the referendum that we had in 1967 to do with the Aboriginal people. In that referendum, people thought they were voting to bring the Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders into the census. They were saying 'equality for all Australians'. People voted in that referendum. About 97 per cent of Australians agreed that they should be, because the Aboriginal people were not included in the census, and for many years they were wrongly treated and there was no equality. What happened then was because the people agreed to it. Section 51 of the Constitution stated at the time prior to the referendum that the Commonwealth could make specific laws for any race other than the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of any state. Now it reads that the Commonwealth can make specific laws for 'any race'.

We put the cart before the horse then, and over the years we have seen our governments bring in laws that actually haven't brought equality for all Australians; we have now made laws that give Aboriginal people more rights than other Australians. I'd say in point of fact that there is a division in Australia; there is reverse racism, because they have special laws that, when their kids go to school, because they're Aboriginal, they can have their tours, their books and their lunches provided. There are special organisations purely for Aboriginals. They can advertise 'Aboriginals only need apply'. They are treated totally differently under the law. People did not vote for that, hence my concerns about this plebiscite.

People say they want equality; they want the right to marry. I have no problem with that and neither do most Australians. If it were to be called a civil ceremony, Australians would not worry about that. In the census in 2011, there were 33,700 gay couples, and I can tell you that not all these gay couples want to get married. We are actually now saying that a large majority of Australians are going to have to be tolerant and go against their beliefs and that our society may change because you pushed for equality in this area. That's all I heard—'love and equality' for people that I believe have a right to be happy and to live their own lives, but it's going to have an impact on the rest of society, and I think we have failed to look at that. We have failed by putting the cart before the horse.

People voted on something; it was an emotional standing—'Yes, people should get married.' But here we are discussing a bill in the parliament on the implications and ramifications it is going to have on our society. People had a right to know about the implications before they voted, but you never did that, and that's why I feel it's wrong. The bill before the parliament says that marriage celebrants can't refuse only on religious grounds. Whoever you are in our society, if you're a marriage celebrant, you should have the right to say no. You should have the right to say, 'No, I'm sorry, because of my beliefs I can't marry a same-sex couple.' Why is it that we have to change and turn around our opinions on this? Why are we being dictated to, again, by the minority? There are many other people out there who, I'm sure, want to marry these couples, but why is it that we could have litigation with people dragged before the courts because of their beliefs? Or maybe a lot of them will throw in their professions because they're in fear of being dragged before the courts.

Another part that I think people haven't thought about is the children. I'm going to have my say now, because I need to look at what impact it is going to have on our society. About 11 per cent of gay couples now have children. Whether they're from in-vitro fertilisation or former heterosexual marriages, the fact is there are children, and there will be an increasing number of children in these relationships. What will we do, as a society, when we get to the stage that these kids are starting to go to school? What will happen when you go to school, the teacher says, 'I want you to draw a picture of your mum and dad or grandma and grandad and your house' and all the rest of it? The kids will be saying, 'What do I do? I don't have a mum,' or 'I don't have a dad.' 'It's Peter and Sam,' or 'It's Elizabeth and Amanda.' They're not known as mum and dad. Are we then going to say, 'Oh well, we can't discriminate against these children, so we must call their parents by their real name?'

Is this the impact it is going to have on our educational system and in our school rooms? What about grandma and grandad? It's all right for this generation but what about the next generation? No longer will you be able to call them grandma or grandad. These kids won't have them.

Have you thought beyond this? These people are pushing for what they want—equality and love. I've got no problems with people being in love and doing what they want to, but why do you have to push this on the majority of the population? A lot of the people voted in the census because they believe in love and they believe that people should be happy together—no problem with it. A lot of these people are parents who have gay children and they only wish to see them happy. But have we really stopped to think about the ramifications this is going to have on our society as a whole?

I will be moving an amendment with regard to celebrants. I believe that everyone has a right to deny service—if they don't want to marry a couple, bake a cake or whatever it is they don't want to do. We cannot restrict people from having an opinion in this country. We have laws in place. We have human rights. We have the Racial Discrimination Act. We have the Sex Discrimination Act. We have those in place. But this is something very important: we cannot shut people down from having an opinion and having a say in this country. If they don't want to do something, they have the right not to, because that is their business and they have a right to say that. There are plenty of other people who will do it. I see this is going to open up a can of worms. You are going to have people who will chase these people down to see what their reaction will be—just purely to litigate and take them through the court system. We are going to have a lot of lawyers and solicitors rubbing their hands together over this.

Another concern that has been raised by people in Australia is about the Safe Schools Program. Why are we pushing this in parts of this country in the school educational program? It is teaching kids about their body parts and everything. They are kids. Let them be children. I have no problem with teaching sexual education, but do it when they are reaching puberty at around 14 or 15. Don't start messing around with the minds of young children in our educational system by pushing your own agenda. I think it's disgraceful. As long as I'm a senator for Queensland I will fight against this happening in our educational system in Queensland, because I believe that people are pushing their own agenda. I think there are many selfish people who are not looking at the overall effect that it's going to have on our society.

I hope that people think clearly about this. I voted no, and I make that quite clear. In this survey, I voted no. I'm very divided about this whole issue and about how I'm going to vote on this bill. But the fact is that I know that 61 per cent of Queenslanders voted yes in this plebiscite. What I'm divided about are the ramifications this is going to have on our society, because I don't believe it has been debated well enough and I don't believe people are well informed about what impact it is going to have. I warn everyone: it will have an impact on our society. When you make your decisions in this parliament it's all right to feel emotional, and everyone wants to embrace and feel good. It's wonderful. But you're asking the rest of society to be tolerant of something that may have such an impact on them and our future generations. I want people to think wisely about the impact this is going to have on our society.

Like I said, I'm very divided about how I'm going to vote on this. Under One Nation—under our principles and objectives—we will have a conscience vote on this, and it is up to every member of the party how they will vote. It is a conscience vote for them. I'm yet to make up my mind on how I'm going to vote. I will listen to the debate, but my view is that I don't believe that we are fully aware of the ramifications this is going to have on our society. I've been getting so many calls through my office from people who are totally against this, although the vote showed differently. But can we truly believe that the vote was conducted fairly? It should have been done as a referendum at the next election. They didn't do that. It was a huge cost of about $100 million to the Australian taxpayer. What I find disgraceful about this whole thing is we have people in this country living on the streets, kids on ice and the problem of not enough jobs—and we're having a debate about the issue of a couple of people being able to get married. There are more important things in this country than worrying about and pushing for this. It's disgraceful.

I don't think you realise that we have farmers and others suiciding in our country. One in 10 people are depressed—and you are worried about same sex and people getting married, about giving a vow to each other. Most members of this place have lost the plot and don't understand what is really important to the Australian people. The people are so sick and tired of hearing about this. Just pass an act and make it a civil ceremony. Deal with the issues that are important to the people. Anyway, that's the choice of the parliament. I've made myself clear and I will be moving an amendment.