Ab­bott’s ‘pi­ous’ move failed as vote neared

The Observer - - NATION NEWS - Charis Chang, Me­gan Palin and Mal­colm Farr

TONY Ab­bott did his best but could not stop the pas­sage of the same-sex mar­riage bill through Fed­eral Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day.

There were eu­phoric scenes on the floor of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives as the bill was passed at 4.58pm (AEST).

It seemed only four MPs voted against the bill, al­though there were ab­sten­tions.

As the vote neared, Mr Ab­bott ac­tively ar­gued against ap­proval of the bill, lodg­ing an amend­ment to stop its progress and slam­ming the Prime Min­is­ter and Leader of the Op­po­si­tion for not in­clud­ing re­li­gious pro­tec­tions.

The Lib­eral MP and former prime min­is­ter said the bill was be­ing done “on the run” and both the PM and the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion had promised pro­tec­tions around free­dom of re­li­gion would be in place.

“A promise was made by the lead­ers of this par­lia­ment and this promise has not been ad­e­quately de­liv­ered on,” he said.

Mr Ab­bott said had never heard mem­bers of the House show­ing such “supine re­spect” for a bill from the Se­nate like it was a “tablet of stone” and be­yond de­lay or con­sid­er­a­tion.

“We don’t want to see new forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion in place of old ones that are rightly gone,” he said.

He said “in­jus­tices are hap­pen­ing this day”, not­ing the case of Catholic Arch­bishop of Ho­bart Ju­lian Por­te­ous and a Canberra women who was sacked from her work af­ter a No post on Face­book.

“Do we want to­day to be a day of unity, or do we want to­day to be a day of di­vi­sion?” Mr Ab­bott said.

Arch­bishop Por­te­ous was re­ferred to the Australian Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mis­sioner over a book­let dis­trib­uted to school fam­i­lies en­ti­tled Don’t Mess

With Mar­riage. The com­plaint was even­tu­ally with­drawn.

Mr Ab­bott also rose to de­fend sub­se­quently de­feated amendments from Lib­eral MP Michael Sukkar that would have created two cat­e­gories of mar­riage – be­tween a man and a woman, and be­tween two peo­ple – and given new cel­e­brants the abil­ity to refuse to marry cou­ples if they held a “gen­uine re­li­gious or con­sci­en­tious be­lief”.

Point­ing out that al­most five mil­lion peo­ple in Aus­tralia had voted No to same-sex mar­riage, Mr Ab­bott said the amend­ment for two cat­e­gories of mar­riage re­spected “tra­di­tional mar­riage while al­low­ing same sex mar­riage to take place”.

He said pro­tec­tions for free­dom of con­science, re­li­gion and parental choice would make the bill a “uni­fy­ing oc­ca­sion”.

Ear­lier, Mr Ab­bott moved a rare “pi­ous amend­ment” that would have halted de­bate and forced it to start again.

Lib­eral MP War­ren Entsch gave a fi­nal sec­ond read­ing speech on the bill and said a clerk had con­firmed the Ab­bott amend­ment would “stop the progress of the bill”.

The amend­ment failed.

PHOTO: MICK TSIKAS/AAP

RUN­NING AGAINST THE TIDE: Former prime min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott speaks dur­ing de­bate of the Mar­riage Amend­ment Bill in the lower house yes­ter­day.

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