Well, we’ve just finished back-to-back sitting weeks in the Federal Parliament, and I have to say, it’s been really difficult seeing a couple of empty chairs in the senate chamber this week. Losing Scott and Larissa, two incredible people and outstanding members of parliament, was a real blow to all of us. But when I think about their incredible contributions and how far the Greens have come in 25 years, I feel overwhelmingly proud.
And I am so proud of my colleagues, for being the only ones to have had the integrity to take responsibility for their mistakes. This fortnight has been a complete farce, first with Canavan, then Malcom Roberts referred to the high court, followed by Barnaby Joyce. But unlike Scott and Larissa, these other politicians are clearly determined to drag this process out. And what we saw as a result was a Government in chaos. Malcolm Turnbull has demonstrated yet again that he isn’t leading for all of us, he’s more interested in looking after himself and his mates – and he’s got no qualms about changing the rules to suit himself as he goes.
It’s also been incredibly disappointing to see Turnbull crumble under the pressure of his party room and bring on a non-binding postal plebiscite instead of just voting for Marriage Equality in the Senate. So now we are also staring down the Government’s non-binding, non-compulsory postal vote on marriage equality. The fact is, we shouldn’t be here, and like many of you, we’re incredibly disappointed and angry that our community is being subjected to this protracted, public debate. I met several young people this week who told me how hard this has already been for them and on their relationship with their family – including a young lesbian woman who told me that she’s afraid to even ask her parents about how they might vote.
Unlike the Government, the Greens have always supported equality in marriage. We’ve been the only party to vote for marriage equality every vote, every MP, every time. So we’re sincerely hoping that the High Court rules against the validity of the ‘postal survey’ and knocks it off in the coming weeks so we can bring on a free-vote in Parliament before the year is out.
But if this postal vote does go ahead, we have to be ready. Now is the time for us to stand and fight for marriage equality and demonstrate that all Australians are equal and loved.
If you haven’t already, take our marriage equality pledge and join our campaign to Choose Love.Vote Yes.
Right now, we need to get everyone on the electoral rolls at the right address, to ensure they get their ballot forms. We’re encouraging 16 & 17 year olds to sign up too – at this stage it looks like the Government has closed the loop hole that would have allowed them to vote too, but we will keep fighting for young people to have their say. And even if they don’t get to vote in the plebiscite, they will make sure they can be part of changing the Government and ensuring that Greens continue to be a genuine alternative in the Senate at the next election.
I’m also looking forward to joining you all to campaign this weekend – I’ll be out in Melbourne and Adelaide this weekend, so come along if you can. We have actions right across the country – if you haven’t signed up already take a look on our website to find out what is going on near you – or to be the first to make something happen in your area. Every vote will matter in this campaign.
This week we also saw the Greens Inquiry in “Strengthening Multiculturalism” wrap up, and I have tabled a significant new report on how we can strengthen multiculturalism in Australia, which included a recommendation that we introduce a Charter of Rights as well as a Code of Ethics for Parliamentarians and the media that seeks to ensure that those who use their public platforms to spread racism and division are held accountable for the impact that their actions have on our community.
These are just a few of the things we’ve been up to in Canberra over the past fortnight – you can find out more on the Australian Greens Facebook page – including our new campaigns to cap electricity prices; to stop the Prime Minister from being able to send us to a war with North Korea & Trump and to save the ABC and SBS from new attacks by One Nation.
Thank you for all that you do. Together we are making real change in the community and the Parliament – and we can make real change at the next election.
In hope, Richard
P.S. Please, if you haven’t already, check your enrolment: check.aec.gov.au – it’ll take 2 minutes