Television interview with Deborah Knight – Today, Nine Network

Transcript
08 Dec 2017
Prime Minister
Same Sex marriage; religious freedom
E&OE

DEBORAH KNIGHT:

The Same-Sex Marriage Bill has been passed, a huge day in the history of our nation and the Prime Minister joins us now from Canberra.

Prime Minister, good morning to you. Just remarkable, euphoric scenes of celebration, history’s been made!

PRIME MINISTER:

It has been and Deb it was so joyous. What a great day for love, for respect, for equality. What a great Australian Day.

The nation had spoken overwhelmingly for marriage equality and the parliament voted overwhelmingly for marriage equality.

It’s one of those remarkable moments in our history.

A discrimination brought to an end after many years of debate, but brought to end in a way that unites the nation.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:

Well the Bill does need to be ratified now by the Governor-General. When will we see that happen and when will see the first gay marriages here in Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

The Royal Assent will be given this morning. In a little while I will be going out to Government House to meet with the Governor-General and the Executive Council and will provide that formal assent. Then the Bill will become an Act of Parliament then. It will be effective tomorrow and under the Act you have to give 30 days notice of a wedding. So 30 days after that - so second week of January.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:

Lots of proposals have been issued, lots of plans are being made. Have you had any wedding invites issued yet?

[Laughter]

PRIME MINISTER:

I have had a few, I’ve had a few. I think January is going to be very busy. The wedding schedule might have to be stretched out into February and March I think. There’ll be plenty of business for the caterers, I would think over the next few months.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:

I think so, it will be good for the economy. Now, you promised stronger religious protections within this law. Tony Abbott has criticised your failure to deliver that. Will you deal with this in separate legislation in the New Year?

PRIME MINISTER:

Religious freedom is not prejudiced or adversely affected by this Bill. I note what Tony says and I just disagree with him on that.

There were some amendments that would have provided more reassurance which I supported. But this Bill does not limit or undermine the religious freedom that all Australians enjoy.

Now I know concerns, real concerns have been expressed and I respect those concerns and that’s why I have asked Philip Ruddock to head a panel to just review the position of religious freedom in Australia and to what extent it’s adequately protected.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:

So could we see laws then shoring that up?

PRIME MINISTER:

Pardon?

DEBORAH KNIGHT:

Could we see then laws shoring up those religious freedoms?

PRIME MINISTER:

We will see what Phillip has to say.

Look, Deb, you know, this is one of the freest nations in the world. We are free, you are free to express whatever religious view you like and practice your faith, as you wish. That’s just part of our way of life. In fact, it is reflected in our Constitution.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:

Well it has been a tough year politically for you and for the government as well. This was a win really that you needed, didn't you? For your own political survival?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I am focused on delivering. I am focused, by the way, on next year too. This is a great result. This is a historic moment in our whole history of removing discrimination. This is the last piece of discrimination against same-sex couples, against gay people and it has gone. That is a fantastic day.

Now on to 2018 and our focus, my focus, is on ensuring that we put more money into the pockets of hardworking Australian families and businesses. We’re working on lower energy prices. As you know we have got a great energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee. We’re bringing down business taxes which is resulting in more investment and more jobs - nearly 1,000 a day over the last year. And of course, we want to now move on to reducing personal income tax. It is going to be tough because we have got a tight budget but we are determined, Deb, to put more money into the pockets of hardworking Australian families.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:

If we can see more of the result like yesterday with both sides of politics, not fighting, but achieving something we would welcome it.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yep.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:

Prime Minister, thank you for your time this morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you. Thanks a lot.

[ENDS]