E&OE…
Kieran Gilbert

With me now, the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Zed Seselja.  Conservative member of the Liberal Party, opposed to Same Sex Marriage.  Well first of all let’s start with the general view, why is it that you will be campaigning in that way?

Senator Seselja

Well look in the end there will be a campaign.  I am a politician. This is not going to be a politicians vote.  That’s the best thing about it.  I will get one vote in the election, or in the plebiscite, as will 16 million Australians if they seek to do so.

So obviously there will be a vigorous campaign and I will be voting no.  I will be voting against changing the Marriage Act.  I’ve long been on the record for that and there are a number of reasons for that.  Some of the issues that have been raised about, issues like religious freedom.  We have seen in other parts of the world that when we do redefine marriage that religions, Christians and others can find it difficult.

They can find there is persecution when they argue their view of marriage and sexuality.  Now we should be protecting those kinds of things.  Now obviously there different views in the community and that’s the wonderful thing about this debate is that everyone will be able to have their say and what I think will be no more important in this debate than the views of 16 million other Australians.

Kieran Gilbert

Penny Wong made the point that kids should be left out of it shouldn’t they? In the sense that… the suggestion that she referred to yesterday of a stolen generation is unfair to same sex couples in the fact that they can have kids anyway.  It seems irrelevant to this debate and unfair to them.

Senator Seselja

I would make the general point, Kieran, that we absolutely shouldn’t be dragging kids into it and we certainly shouldn’t be having anything other than a respectful debate.  There’s been… people have pointed out some of the people who are anti-same sex marriage and some of the language.  On the other side unfortunately, we have seen death threats for people hosting Christian events or people who are opposed to redefining marriage have had their events cancelled because of things like death threats.  So we have seen some real extremism at the edges.  So we would absolutely reject that and urge people to have a civilised debate.

Those kind of examples go to the point that you can have a plebiscite or not but this argument that there won’t be this debate whether you have a plebiscite well the debate of course will go on.  So isn’t it better that we put it to the Australian people.  That the Australian people get to have their say and I think that’s a wonderful thing.

Kieran Gilbert

Because the argument… and you can see it very clearly with individuals like penny Wong and couples like that, that have some kids… there’s a lot of love in their households… it’s hard to bring those kids into it, it seems irrelevant to the situation.

But also from a conservative perspective, isn’t it better to extend the institution to marriage more broadly then, because it has worked so well.

Senator Seselja

Well fundamentally of course that’s going to be at the heart of the debate and what the consequences of changing the Marriage Act are.  And that will be a really vigorous and hopefully a very healthy debate.

One thing that’s really important though, Kieran, is we have seen a lot of censorship of those arguing against changing the Marriage Act.  Media Watch has commented on this that even the ABC who are tasked with being fair in their charter, haven’t actually been fair on this issue and haven’t equally given both sides an airing.  There’s been other networks that have censored ads.

So there’s going to be real responsibility if we’re going to have fair dinkum debate.  We shouldn’t so those kind of extreme comments on either end.  We shouldn’t see the death threats that we have seen on the left.  But certainly media proprietors have a responsibility, I think, to be fair and not to campaign for one side.  Now private media proprietors can campaign for one side or the other.

I would make this point as well, that those arguing against change do have a lot of things stacked against them.  Virtually every media outlet is campaigning for change, the ABC has effectively been campaigning for change, and there’s a lot of corporate money that we have seen.  I expect that it’ll be … we will see the yes case outspend the no case, probably by 10 to 1.

That’s not to say that the Australian people won’t still, despite all the money that’s thrown one way, won’t still make a decision that they don’t want to see the Marriage Act changed and that’s the great thing about democracy.

Kieran Gilbert

If they do support the Marriage Act being changed, will you vote in-line with the plebiscite result? Because one of the questions that has been raised is, will conservatives honour the plebiscite?  Michael Sukkar said he would, Alex Hawke on this program as well this week said he would.  Will you?

Senator Seselja

Yes I will.  And I would call on everyone to honour the will of the Australian people as expressed through this plebiscite.  So for those of us who are arguing against change, if it goes against us we should honour it.  That’s what I will do.  I would also call on all Members of Parliament to honour the will the Australian people.

We can talk about opinion polls and a lot of politicians have said the opinion polls show 60% or some have claimed as high as 70%.  If that’s the case, that will be reflected in the plebiscite and of course then it will sail through the Parliament.  If it’s not the case, then the Australian people will have, in a much more meaningful way, expressed their view because everyone’s going to have the opportunity to do that and I think we should all honour it and I certainly will.

Kieran Gilbert

Minister, appreciate your time as always

Senator Seselja

Thanks very much

[ENDS]

Contact for
Senator Zed Seselja , Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs
Veronica Hayes
Media and Community Affairs Adviser
veronica.hayes@aph.gov.au
0401 815 853