EXTREME LAWS ARE ‘NO HOPE’
MALCOLM Turnbull has ruled out laws to allow wedding businesses to reject gay couples if the Yes vote triumphs in today’s postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
He expects some amendments to the SSM bill, but farreaching religious protections being pushed by some of his conservative colleagues “have virtually no prospect of getting through” because they would weaken discrimination laws.
“I don’t believe Australians would welcome ... making legal, discrimination ... that is unlawful today,” Mr Turnbull said.
MALCOLM Turnbull has ruled out weakening antidiscrimination laws so wedding planners can refuse to serve gay couples, as he prepares to welcome the historic outcome of the same-sex marriage vote today.
The Prime Minister launched a renewed defence of his leadership from the Philippines as conservative MPs did not rule out the option of challenging his leadership if he refused to allow conscientious objections to gay marriage. The political jostling comes as the Australian Bureau of Statistics will this morning announce the outcome of the postal survey, which almost 12 million Australians — just under 80 per cent of the population — participated in.
“It’s under my prime ministership that all Australians have been given a say on this issue,” Mr Turnbull said.
“And if their answer is yes, then … as I promised, there will be a free vote.”
Mr Turnbull has lent his support to a private member’s bill by West Australian Liberal senator Dean Smith, which is expected to be introduced tomorrow if the yes vote is successful as widely anticipated.
But conservatives are backing an alternative bill proposed by Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson, which has extensive shield laws for businesses and others opposed to gay marriage, which would override some state antidiscrimination laws.
However, Mr Turnbull rejected calls for those farreaching carve-outs.
“I don’t believe Australians would welcome, and certainly the government does not, would not countenance making legal, discrimination that is illegal, that is unlawful today,” Mr Turnbull said.
He was supported by Attorney-General George Brandis, who said: “We are certainly not going to remove one form of discrimination and at the same time instate a new form of discrimination.”
One conservative MP said Mr Turnbull seemed to have given up on holding the leadership for the long term.
“It’s untenable for us not to defend conscience objection and those sort of freedoms, like having the ability to remove children from anything taught in a school that is contrary to your religious beliefs,” he said.
“Turnbull was not willing to engage on it, which suggests he’s given up.”
Some senior Liberals, including Treasurer Scott Morrison, have warned they are concerned about the Smith bill. “I think there would need (to be), personally, additional protections to those provided in the Dean Smith bill,” Mr Morrison said.