Mr ENTSCH (Leichhardt) (09:33): I thank honourable members for their contributions to the second reading debate on the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017. I would particularly like to
acknowledge at this point the co-signers of the bill who are here. We have Senator Dean Smith, who dealt with this in the other place, and my good friends here: Trent Zimmerman, Tim Wilson and Trevor Evans. Thank you very much indeed for your great friendship and support on this journey.
As colleagues know, the debate on this bill has been a long time coming. I have been delighted to hear 125 second reading speeches, totalling 21 hours and 31.5 minutes, from parliamentary colleagues sharing their own personal stories, as well as the stories of their families, friends and constituents. There have certainly been some highs and there have certainly been some lows. You can't help but be moved by the stories shared by the member for Barton, Linda Burney, and the member for Corangamite, Sarah Henderson, on the loved ones that they have lost. They reminded us about the consequences of nonacceptance and marginalisation; the effect of inequality and discrimination is clearly dire. I was particularly delighted to witness my friend Tim Wilson propose to his long-time partner, and now officially his fiance, Ryan, and I'm glad for Tim's sake that Ryan said yes. I'm hoping for an invitation to his wedding, as well as to many others across Australia-and hopefully some in beautiful Far North Queensland.
As this stage of the debate is drawing to a close, I hope that we appreciate the journey that we in this House have come on, just as we should appreciate how far we've come as a country to get to this point today. I've been heartened to see the wonderful non-partisan cooperation, compassion and respect in this debate. This was parliament at its best, with so many people on their feet; standing up for what they believe is right, and doing so in a dignified and very, very respectful manner. However, there was one contribution-I'm disappointed to see that he's left the chamber-that was the exception, and it deserves special mention. That was the contribution of the member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, who was the last speaker in the second reading debate last night. His
pathetic attempts at humour and his insensitivity and grossly misleading comments were devoid of any facts; they were highly offensive, embarrassing and cringe-worthy. They need to be called out for what they are. His
speech exemplifies what the LGBTIQ community have had to endure for so long. The member for Kennedy's speech needs to be taken in isolation; it does not represent the views of the parliament. It certainly does not represent the views of an overwhelming majority of Australians.
But it is now our job, as members of parliament, to pass a fair bill that does not extend or create any new discriminations. This bill before us is a product of a government exposure draft and a Senate select committee inquiry. It is a good bill. It is a strong bill that already strikes the right balance between equality and freedom of religion. It is a bill that does not need any amendments, as evidenced by the Senate passing the bill unamended last week. Now there is a second reading amendment, which was moved by the member for Warringah. I've received advice from the Clerk about the effect of the second reading amendment to the bill. The Clerk of the House confirms that if the second reading amendment is carried, it will stop the progress of the bill.
If I could, I will just read from the Clerk here:
The reason why progress on the bill is arrested is that, if the amendment is agreed to, the immediate question before the House is 'whilst not deciding to give the bill a second reading … etc'. There is no longer an opportunity
for the House to consider the question 'that the bill be now read a second time'- an essential step for the bill to be able to progress to further stages.
In the absence of any action the bill would effectively be dead …
To summarise, the passage of a second reading amendment to a bill is not insignificant. There has only been one instance in the history of the House. Unless some action is taken on the bill its progress would cease at that
point. As the revival of the bill may require a suspension of standing orders without notice, this could only be done with an absolute majority. That is the advice from the Clerk.
It's now our turn to consider and vote upon the changes that have been proposed. I have considered the amendments and do not believe any of these amendments are necessary. The bill does not restrict religious beliefs or inhibit freedom of speech. This bill gives so much and takes from no-one. I have listened to the concerns of people who voted no in the postal survey and to colleagues who openly oppose marriage equality.
Any concerns raised in the amendments, notably those that have consistently opposed marriage equality, can be properly considered by the government's thorough inquiry into religious freedom, due to report by next March.
I look forward to the chamber's consideration of amendments, and ask colleagues to remember that Australians have emphatically voted to end discrimination against the LGBTIQ community, and their friends, family and
colleagues. I commend the bill in its current form to the House.
The SPEAKER: The original question was that this bill be now read a second time.
To this, the honourable member for Warringah has moved as an amendment that all words after 'that' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The immediate question before the House is that the amendment be agreed to.
Original question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.