Television interview – The Project, Ten

Transcript
07 Dec 2017
Prime Minister
Same-sex marriage
E&OE

CARRIE BICKMORE:

Here to help us celebrate this historic day would you please welcome the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

(Applause)

Prime Minister, about bloody time.

PRIME MINISTER:

Isn't it great. What a day. What a day. What a day in history. What a day for love.

What a day to put our arms around same-sex couples and say we love you, we respect you, you have all the rights that everyone else has had for so long - now we're all at one.

This has been a great unifying day in our history.

And you know, the postal survey had a few critics, I recall but wasn't that a great affirmation. Everyone had their say. Everyone had their say, 80 per cent voted, 62 per cent voted ‘yes’ and now the Parliament's delivered.

TOMMY LITTLE:

Prime Minister, have you been invited to Tim Wilson's wedding yet?

(Laughter)

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m sure I'll get an invitation. Tim gave me a big hug after the vote. I think he's the first person to propose on the floor of the House of Representatives.

But, look, this has been a very tough issue which has alluded parties and governments for a long time. I mean, look I'm the first Prime Minister to unequivocally support same-sex marriage but this is a complex issue.

As you know the very strong views held across the country and we had to bring people together and the way we did that was by respecting everybody and the postal survey giving everyone their say was a key, that was the key means of doing that.

It was a huge success, everyone had their say. 62 per cent voted ‘yes’ and now the Parliament's delivered and it has done so in a respectful way.

The Bill respects and reinforces and protects religious freedoms. They are not, religious freedoms are not threatened by this new law.

And I just think this is a day of joy, of love.

I'm just so proud to be Australia's Prime Minister when we have made this big decision.

RYAN FITZGERALD:

One of the major faces, Prime Minister, of the yes campaign has been Magda Szubanski. We had her on earlier in the show. A momentous day for her and her community. But she said it has been a very long process, Prime Minister, and she had to say this the other day about you.

MAGDA SZUBANSKI – RECORDING:

Having had so much feedback from people in terrible pain, to see the Prime Minister gloating and taking credit was a little bit hard to swallow, when really every obstacle has been put in the way of this happening and he's caved into all of it.

RYAN FITZGERALD:

What do you have to say about that, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I just say to Magda, it's happened.

It's happened and you know the obstacles to this happening were not thrown up by me.

I have been a supporter of legalising same sex marriage for many years, longer than many people on the Labor side of the house for that matter and I was the first Prime Minister to go to the Mardi Gras, as Prime Minister.

And we have delivered this. But we've delivered this in a way that is respected all Australians and it's now the law of the land.

WALEED ALY:

You mentioned the issue of religious freedom earlier and there were a lot of amendments put forward - it seemed like this was going to go on forever in parliament.

There are some people though that didn't seem best pleased with the way that played out in parliament. George Christensen among them and he was responding to that issue today in this way.

GEORGE CHRISTENSEN MP - RECORDING:

We've seen cheers from the gallery, cheering for the erosion of religious liberty, cheering for the erosion of religious liberty, you know.

(Applause)

There they go cheering again, cheering again, when I'm specifically saying eroding religious liberty, they support that. They support that. That is the voice of tolerance today.

WALEED ALY:

I take it Prime Minister you don't agree with his point. But are there some wounds here that need to be healed within your party and also in the country?

PRIME MINISTER:

No I don’t agree. Religious liberty is not eroded.

WALEED ALY:

No, no I understand.

PRIME MINISTER:

Sorry Waleed, just say that again please.

WALEED ALY:

No I understand you don't agree with the substance of his point but are there some wounds here within your own Coalition and within the country that need to be healed?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look I think this is a time for healing and it will be a time for people to realise that a lot - that religious freedom is well protected in Australia. But nonetheless, there are anxieties about it.

We should be anxious about our freedoms, they're very precious. So that is why I asked Phillip Ruddock to lead a panel to examine the extent to which religious freedom is protected and to whether its protections are adequate.

I mean we should always cherish our freedoms and make sure – not take them for granted. So I understand that but this Bill does not threaten religious freedom.

There are people who said Waleed, that allowing same-sex couples to marry would threaten traditional marriage. And I just want to say, the threats to marriage are adultery, desertion, neglect. You know all of those terrible things that we see when marriages go wrong and they turn into a sort of loveless desert.

What keeps marriages together is love and commitment and if people - if two gay people down the street decide to get married, how does that - is that going to undermine your marriage or my marriage?

I mean it is in fact what the same sex couples who are saying "We want to get married" what they’re saying is they're holding up a mirror to the rest of us and saying "We want to make a commitment".

And so, that's why, like David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, the conservative Prime Minister under whose Government same sex marriage was legalised in the UK. With David, I say commitment is the key, it is a fundamental part of conservative philosophy.

And so I don't support gay marriage despite being a conservative, I support it because I'm a conservative, because I believe in marriage and I believe in commitment.

CARRIE BICKMORE:

Well speaking of commitment, a lot of people have hit us up on Facebook to say they're ready to get married. Weddings have been booked in March, April and May. They’re all coming in, so an exciting time ahead for the nation, Prime Minister.

Thank you so much for your time and enjoy your night.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you.

[ENDS]