Television interview with Tracy Grimshaw – A Current Affair, Nine

Transcript
15 Nov 2017
Prime Minister
Same-sex marriage
E&OE

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Now it’s up to the Federal Parliament to turn the ‘yes’ vote into legislation. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has pledged to do it by Christmas, but can he make good on that? I spoke with him a short time ago.

Prime Minister, thank you for your time. You’ve said you want this legislation passed by Christmas. Given Parliament rises in three weeks, that is a tight deadline to accommodate some pretty serious debate.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the Senate will be debating the bill this week and then they’ll complete it in the week beginning the 27th, and then it will come down to the House of Representatives. And Tracy, I’m very confident it will be all be dealt with before Christmas. It is a fascinating subject but I don’t think Members of Parliament want to be talking about it right up to Christmas Eve.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

One commentator suggested today quite bluntly that you can’t afford to stuff this up, you have a solid ‘yes’ vote behind you and it is up to you to wrangle this legislation through. And you know, the ‘no’ campaign, the ‘no’ voters if you like are not going to lie down, are they?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, this has been an enormous exercise in democracy. We’ve had 80 per cent of Australians participated in this voluntary postal survey, 61.6 per cent voted ‘yes’. Australians have shown they are committed to a fair go. They’ve said yes to commitment. They’ve said yes to marriage equality. And they’ve said yes to love. And they’ve said to the Parliament ‘get on with it, get this done’. And that is what we are going to do.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Let’s talk about amendments – Tony Abbott says that the bill needs to provide freedom of conscience for all not just for churches. Senator George Brandis proposed this afternoon an amendment allowing conscientious objections by civil celebrants. Doesn’t that open the door to broader opt out measures?

PRIME MINISTER:

Tracy, I think the important thing is to deal with each amendment as they come up. The bill will be proposed and then each amendment will be discussed one after the other. The important thing to remember is that this is a free vote. So, the government, we are not saying to our members you’ve got to vote this way or that way. They’ll all be able to vote according to their conscience and there will be occasions when government members will vote in different directions, as indeed will Labor members because they have the same arrangement.

So we are going to see Parliament at its best. But the important thing is that we get the job done and we will.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

The challenge is going to be where do you draw the line on the amendments though so that you still get legislation, isn’t it?

PRIME MINISTER:

We will get it done. Believe me, the amendments will be proposed, they’ll be debated, they’ll either be accepted or rejected and then the bill will be passed.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Five million Australians did vote ‘no’. Do they simply have to suck it up now and accept that they lost?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that is democracy. You know, everyone had their say. You give everyone the respect of saying ‘what do you think?’ And the question was, as you know, do you believe the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. 80 per cent of those people who were asked that question, 16 million of them, chose to express a view and as we know, just under 62 per cent said ‘yes’.

So that is democracy in action and what the Australian people have done is given an enormous affirmation of respect for gay couples. What they’ve done is put, what we’ve done with that 62 per cent vote is put our arms around same-sex couples with love and with respect and say ‘your committed relationship is going to be described under law as a marriage’. And that is the respect, the mutual respect that right across the board is part of the Australian fair go.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Alright. Thank you very much, Prime Minister. You’ve got some work to do. I appreciate your time tonight.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks a lot Tracy.

[ENDS]