SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 7 AUGUST 2017
SUBJECTS: Marriage Equality; Newspoll
KIERAN GILBERT: With me now on the program the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh. Thanks for your time. This idea of a postal vote with a set date for a Parliamentary vote potentially by the end of the year, you can make a case against a plebiscite but if it were to happen, surely Labor and the advocacy groups can win it and be done with it?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: As Malcolm Turnbull said 20 years ago about a postal vote, it will ‘push to the margins of our political society those people who are already on the margins’. This is just a tactic designed to deal with the Liberal Party's internal issues. Australians support same-sex marriage and the majority of parliamentarians support same-sex marriage. We're the last advanced English speaking country not to allow same-sex marriage. We didn't have a plebiscite the last 20 times we changed the Marriage Act, including in 2004 when John Howard changed it so as to prevent same-sex marriage. This is nothing but a delaying tactic. We need to get on and provide equality to same-sex attracted Australians so they can tie the knot before grandparents pass away. Tori Johnson…
GILBERT: But the bottom line is if there was to be a plebiscite carried out and the Government is going to go ahead with it, that's the time isn't it to put your criticisms to one side and just win the vote? Get out there and advocate and get your constituents to vote in favour and just have it done?
LEIGH: Kieran, why waste the money? Why have the divisiveness? Why have the mental health problems for young Australians? Why not just get on and get this done like a sensible, grown up country and then move on to dealing with big challenges, such as tax loopholes, climate change, slow wage growth-
GILBERT: But if it’s going to happen anyway, why not just win it?
LEIGH: It will be won, if it happens, but I don’t think it should happen. I don’t think we need to spend this money, I don’t think Australians are out there clamouring for a postal vote. I certainly haven’t been inundated by constituents saying that they would like more of their money spent so that parliamentarians can put off doing what they did the last 20 times the Marriage Act was changed. It’s our responsibility to reflect our constituents’ views in the parliament. This is all about internal divisions within the Liberal Party and Malcolm Turnbull’s inability to hold his party together.
GILBERT: Do you-
LEIGH: Every day that goes by he looks more like Billy McMahon.
GILBERT: Given your position on this matter, you would have a great deal of respect for the likes of Tim Wilson and Trever Evans and co, who have gone against the party policy to try to bring this forward, this issue?
LEIGH: Look, absolutely. The Liberal Party often touts the fact that its members are allowed a free vote in parliament, but right now they’re looking more Stalinist than Russia in the 1950s, trying to bind their members. Labor will give our members a free vote when it hits the floor of the Parliament. The Liberals should do the same.
GILBERT: You’re not a big fan of opinion polls. What about the Fairfax qualitative survey of focus groups that suggests that neither of the leaders are really resonating with voters right now?
LEIGH: Yes, I’ve written many a time that we spend too much of our political energy focusing on opinion polls, but then we do have a Prime Minister who staked his leadership claim on his predecessor having lost 30 Newspolls in a row. He’s now up to 17. You’ve got this interesting situation too – today I couldn’t help noticing the Greens have lost two Senators and are up two points, suggesting that if all of them resigned, they could hit 17 per cent in the Newspoll.
GILBERT: [laughter] Andrew Leigh, appreciate your time. Thanks for that, we’ll talk to you soon.
LEIGH: Thank you.