Today the Senate voted – 31 against, 31 for on whether Australia should have a plebiscite on same sex marriage. The motion was defeated meaning Australia will now go to a controversial voluntary postal plebiscite.
Labor Senator Penny Wong is openly gay and has two children with her partner, Sophie. Before the vote, Penny Wong gave an impassioned speech in the senate. This is an edited transcript of her speech.
Well, this motion is not about giving Australians a say.
This motion is about weakness and division on that side of the parliament.
This motion is about a government so divided and so leaderless, they have to handball a hard decision to the community to make it because they cannot make it in their party room. That’s what this is about.
And no amount of words from my colleague can hide from the fact that this is one big massive handball, because this is a government without a leader, utterly divided on this issue. That is what this vote is about.
Now, I will come back to the substantive in a moment, but let’s just talk about the procedural issue. This is a government that is so weak, it won’t even bring the bill back.
Do you know what the motion before you is? It’s saying, “Oh, you know that second-reading vote we had? Well, we did not like the outcome, so can we have it again?” That’s what this motion is.
They do not even have the guts to bring it back through the lower house - probably because they don’t know if they can hold all their people - so they put a motion on the notice paper saying, "Oh, we just want to restart the second reading, even though you all voted against it." That's what they are doing.