Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
SARAH HARRIS: This morning we've seen that Australian voters want to legalise same-sex marriage, with 61.6% in favour after that national postal survey. With us now is Finance Minister and Acting Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann. Thank you very much are joining us.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good to be here.
SARAH HARRIS: You are on record saying you support "the traditional view of marriage", which does translate as voting no. How did you feel when you heard the result?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well obviously this has been an issue on which there were strongly held views on both sides of the argument by good people on both sides of the argument. That is why we went through this process. Everyone had the opportunity to have their say. The Australian people now have spoken. It is a decisive, emphatic decision. It is now a matter for the Parliament to give effect to that decision in the next few weeks.
JOE HILDERBRAND: Senator, you did as the Minister overseeing this vote, you played a very straight bat. You did not campaign on either side. What happens now, though? How is the legislation drafted? Are we looking at a new bill, not any of the ones that have been canvassed previously, and will that bill have religious protections in it and what form will they take?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There is a bill on the notice paper today which will come before the Senate this afternoon. I would expect that there is a majority in the Senate to introduce that Bill this afternoon. It is colloquially referred to as the ‘Smith Bill.’ The debate on that will start in the Senate tomorrow. The so-called second reading debate. We will then go through that legislation in detail, including the debate on amendments in the week starting the 27th of November. Personally, again, I have been on the record for some time, I support the ‘Smith Bill’ as a starting position. I do believe that there is opportunity for some improvement, for some additional religious protections to be added. I am not going to go into the detail on that today. That will be a matter for the conversation and engagement with colleagues over the next few weeks to really explore what the appropriate balance is for the final bill.
JOE HILDERBRAND: So that will be the Bill?
MATHIAS CORMANN: That is right. There is no Government Bill. It is a Private Member's Bill.
JESSICA ROWE: So you are saying that that Private Member's Bill will get through. Why then can't it just go through simply? Why does there need to be now this further debate about various religious protections?
MATHIAS CORMANN: That was always going to be the case. The question that was asked of the Australian people was whether or not they felt or had the view that the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. The answer to that question was a resounding yes. The Parliament now has to give effect to that. There is now a debate to be had on all of the appropriate context and detail that needs to be enshrined in legislation, and that is the usual process.
SARAH HARRIS: Mathias Cormann, thank you for joining us this morning.