Abbott’s ‘pious’ move failed as vote neared
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 The complaint was eventually withdrawn.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.
RUNNING AGAINST THE TIDE: Former prime minister Tony Abbott speaks during debate of the Marriage Amendment Bill in the lower house yesterday.