Politics

The PM’s Response To The Marriage Equality Verdict Was As Bad As You’d Expect

It's on, for some more than others.

Seconds after the High Court announced that the government’s postal survey on marriage equality will go ahead, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten got up in Question Time to ask the Prime Minister a question.

“I note the High Court’s decision moments ago in relation to the Prime Minister’s $122 million postal survey on marriage equality,” Shorten said. “Will the Prime Minister work with the community to show his active support for marriage equality and will the Prime Minister now accept my invitation to write a joint letter to every Australian to support voting Yes in the survey?”

It’s a fair question. Both the PM and Shorten support marriage equality. In fact, Turnbull’s enthusiastic support for same-sex marriage was one of the reasons so many people wanted him to take over from Tony Abbott in the first place. Didn’t that turn out well.

So the PM got up to respond… and started his answer by attacking Shorten.

Turnbull’s Deflating Response

“Well, the Leader of the Opposition must be relieved that the promise he gave to theAustralian Christian Lobby in 2013 is now being delivered by the Coalition,” Turnbull said. “He went there to the Australian Christian Lobby and he said, ‘I think every Australian should have their say’.”

This is a reference to Shorten’s 2013 comments backing a people’s vote on the issue. At the time, there really was no prospect of a vote on marriage equality any time soon, so it was a pretty empty comment from Shorten. And a lot has happened since then, including the entire LGBTQI+ community coming out in opposition to the plebiscite.

Things changed, and Shorten changed his mind. But I guess that’s politics.

“We encourage every Australian to vote in this survey, to have their say, and as I have said in this House and in many other places, Lucy and I will be voting Yes and I will be encouraging others to vote yes,” Turnbull continued. “But, Mr Speaker, above all, I encourage every Australian to have their say because unlike the Leader of the Opposition I respect every Australian’s view on this matter.”

He then dismissed concerns about the nature of the campaign. “I thoroughly reject the way in which [Shorten] has sought to vilify and demonise people who have a different view to him. This is a great example where every Australian can have a say and we can, as a Commonwealth of Australia, embrace this important social change, consider it and make a decision.”

That’s despite the fact that the campaign is already pretty ugly.

So Did The PM Commit To Actively Campaigning For Marriage Equality?

No. No, he did not.