Home - Claire Moore - Labor Senator for Queensland

GREENS MOTION: Marriage Equality

Senator MOORE (Queensland) (09:55): Labor are not supporting this Greens motion this morning. We think it is a stunt in terms of getting some kind of political focus on an issue which we all agree is so important. There has never been any debate about the importance of this issue. As Senator Cormann has said, it has come before the Senate, and the Greens know that there is very strong support-and that there are different views-on this issue. We have a process in the parliament which allows due process to occur so that issues of importance can fit into the parliamentary schedule.

We have many ways of bringing forward these kinds of issues. The MPI process is one that is immediately available to anyone, any party in the Senate, to come forward and say they think that an issue is important and should be brought to the Senate. In fact this morning there was an opportunity for that, when both Labor and the Greens requested an MPI, which is standard practice. The Greens brought forward their request, which was around the emissions trading process and the environment. That is good. We came forward with an MPI on this issue of marriage equality, which we could have debated in this place as we always do, with opportunities for people to put their views and then a chance for the Senate to make a decision on what was put. However, by the nature of this morning's ballot, we lost. That happens. The Greens will have the opportunity this afternoon in the MPI debate to talk about this important issue. They have chosen to do otherwise. There are always other opportunities in this place. Private senators' business, where there are bills in front of the Senate on this particular issue, is another opportunity to bring forward this very important issue. But, no, the process that has been used this morning is without discussion, without awareness or sensitivity about how other people in this chamber feel about such an important issue.

We know there has been community pressure. We know there has been interest. But this has been done with no discussion, with none of the consultation that normally happens in this place when people are trying to put forward an issue that they feel is important. The way to do that is to seek the support of other senators to see what would be the best way to do it. That is how we operate. We negotiate, we consult, we share opinions and we come up with what would be the most effective way to have a debate, a discussion. Then there is the other method: to find out what is the most important way to bring people from the gallery into the chamber so that they can see what is happening down in the Senate, so people can have their photographs taken and be able to say, 'This is the way we feel and we are the only people who feel this strongly.' That is just not appropriate on such an important issue. The Greens can do that, and in fact they have, but the Labor Party will not support this methodology to bring forward a debate that could be had in another way-that must be had in another way, because this is an incredibly important issue for the Senate, for the parliament and for the community.

I do not want to see this portrayed as the Labor Party opposing any debate on discrimination in marriage-because that is what the Greens will be trying to do. They will try to say that we do not want to debate this issue. We have a clear record of debating this issue. We have strong views on the issue. We have come up with a policy position for the party. What we want to see, though, is for us, together in the Senate, to work through and engage in a process that allows the debate to occur in the appropriate way and to ensure that people are treated with respect. We want to ensure that this issue is not just turned into a sideshow to promote individual views about who is more powerful or who has a stronger position than anybody else in the debate. That is not how the Senate operates.

We will not support this. We want to have this discussion. Certainly we oppose any discrimination-we put that on record-but this is taking up more time of the Senate today, when we have a range of legislation in front of us which needs to be concluded. We are moving to make decisions on that. We have allocated time in the Senate to do our business. Let's not divert so you can get a cheap headline.