Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s appearance on Thursday’s panel of The Project began with a clumsy rap and a joke about Tupac. Then things took a turn for the awkward.
Host Waleed Aly asked the PM about whether he thought pop singer Macklemore should be allowed be sing his hit song Same Love during the Grand Final show at the NRL this weekend, a choice which former Prime Minister Tony Abbott openly rallied against this week.
“He should perform whatever he wants to perform,” Mr Turnbull said.
“It’s the halftime entertainment at the Grand Final. They have got a great artist. He will sing his top hits, that’s one of them, that’s great.”
The pop singer’s song choice has been yet another hot button topic setting the same sex marriage debate alight with opinion and outrage, thrusting it directly into the AFL and NRL and the Grand Final weekend.
— The Project (@theprojecttv) September 28, 2017
It seemed like the conversation was going smoothly. Sport. Music. Banter.
But then things changed. When Prime Minister Turnbull asserted he is “a free speech person”, Waleed went in for a line of questioning Australians have been wanting to hear for weeks.
“At the start of this process, I recall you saying you really believed Australia could have a civil debate. Why did you think Australia could have a civil debate when your own party couldn’t?”
Turnbull started his answer with: “Waleed, that is so wrong.”
(Prime Minister, we’re sorry, but Waleed is never really ‘wrong’.)
“There have been a few ugly incidents in the debate about legalising same-sex marriage. The vast majority of people — the vast, 99.99 per cent — have dealt with this issue respectfully and civilly as Australians do.
“I have enormous respect for the good sense, the common sense, the respect, the decency of the Australian people, their maturity and they are demonstrating that and confirming that by having a sensible discussion about same-sex marriage.”