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Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Page: 9187

Senator HANSON (Queensland) (12:59): My comments are mine alone and are not a reflection of the views of my colleagues. The party stance was that we have a conscience vote. I didn't agree with the plebiscite; I have always said this issue should have gone to a referendum and been addressed under section 51 of the Constitution. But the people have had their chance to vote and overwhelmingly they have voted in the affirmative for the proposal: 'Do you agree with same-sex marriage?'

I said then that I would respect the vote. I have also said that I do believe that it was putting the cart before the horse because people were not told about the legislation and what it would mean.

During the debate that has gone on in this chamber, with reflection on marriage celebrants, charities and other areas, I have seen the views of the opposite side—Labor, the Greens and other political parties, but especially Labor. Senator Wong said no-one had asked for a conscience vote. I noticed that in every vote, even though we've heard that some people in this chamber in the Labor Party actually are very Christian minded and possibly against this bill, that people have not been allowed to have a conscience vote. I think that's a shame.

This bill is going to have a huge impact on the country. Let me just say that I do believe that people of the same sex should be married. I have no problem with it. I have homosexual friends and people who work for me. So I always believe that people have a right to live their life as they want to and to be happy. But what I'm reflecting on now is that I do not believe there has been enough tolerance in this chamber of the nearly five million people that did not vote for this. Those people were not forewarned what impact this will have on them, and I believe that should have been taken into consideration. If only the chamber had passed some of the amendments to this bill and allowed marriage celebrants to decide whether they want to marry a same-sex couple—that it would be their choice. Section 116 of the Australian Constitution clearly states that there cannot be religious observance forced upon people, and that is exactly what we are doing in this chamber. Because of that, I will be abstaining from voting. I am torn because I do agree with marriage for same-sex couples, but, on the other hand, I do not agree with the impact of the legislation.