Dutton says yes will win postal survey, so he's working to protect religious freedom
Peter Dutton says he will work to boost protections for religious freedom if the yes vote prevails in the same-sex marriage postal survey, but has conceded it will be “difficult” getting the protections through parliament.
Revealing that he had spoken to former prime minister John Howard, who has been a loud voice calling for the Turnbull government to clarify its stance on religious freedom in any same sex-marriage legislation, Dutton said he believed the yes camp would prevail in coming weeks.
He said it was parliament’s responsibility to ensure, if that happened, that religious freedoms are protected for ministers, celebrants, wedding cake makers and flower sellers who do not agree with same sex marriage.
But he conceded it would be a tough ask getting them through the Senate.
“I do have concerns about the religious protections and I share some of John Howard’s concerns, I’ve spoken with him about them,” Dutton told 2GB radio on Thursday.
“There’s a process that we’ll follow, if there is to be a yes vote ... there will be a bill before the parliament and my argument, and others have argued, is there should be adequate protections in there.
“People are worried about this Safe Schools agenda, they’re worried about other aspects that flow [from it], and that’s our job in parliament to try to put those protections in place.
“It’s difficult, because you’ve got the Greens and the Labor party who control the Senate, and we’ve only got a one-seat majority in the lower house, but we do need adequate protections and I think people would expect that from the parliament.”
It comes after Dutton revealed on Wednesday evening, at an event in Sydney, that he believed the yes camp would win.
The immigration minister, who led the push inside the government to hold the non-binding postal survey, said he was personally against changing the law but pledged to vote for same-sex marriage in parliament if the yes vote won.
He told Sydney radio host Ray Hadley on Thursday that his sense was the no vote camp would lose.
“I’ve already voted no, and I’d encourage people to do the same,” he said.
“My judgement speaking to people, seeing the reports in the media, and just my sense of where the debate is at, is that the yes vote will get up.
“But I think the most important message is that people, regardless of how they’re going to vote, get their ballots back in and to do it quickly. It’s an important process ... it’s a significant social change, and people should have their say one way or another.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed on Tuesday that 10 million citizens have had their say, with 62.5% of the voting papers received.
The treasurer, Scott Morrison, who also supports a no vote in the marriage equality survey, said he would wait to see the results. “I mean Australians are having their say at the moment. That’s what I wanted them to have,” he told ABC TV. There are still four weeks to go before the postal survey closes on 7 November.
• Australian Associated Press contributed to this report
Peter Dutton says he has concerns about religious protections if same-sex marriage survey passes.