IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU MALCOLM: ‘Gloating’ PM slapped down
AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has hailed the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in Canberra as a "huge success" in a "day of joy".
"What a day. What a day. What a day in history. What a day for love," the Prime Minister said on The Project.
"What a day to put our arms around same-sex couples and say we love you, we respect you, you have all the rights that everyone else has had for so long - now we're all at one."
While he acknowledged the postal survey had a "few critics", Turnbull said it allowed the country to have their say and he was "so proud" to be the country's leader "when we have made this big decision."
When shown comments from same-sex marriage advocate Magda Szubanski accusing him of "gloating and taking credit" for what has been a painful and divisive few months for many, the PM was unrepentant.
"We have delivered this. But we've delivered this in a way that is respected all Australians and it's now the law of the land," he said.
Speaking to Leigh Sales on 7.30, Mr Turnbull expressed similar sentiments.
"I am so proud this has occurred while I'm prime minister, while the Liberal and National parties are in government," he said.
"Surely you would also like to acknowledge that the Labor Party has played a role in getting this legislation through," Ms Sales shot back.
"Well, look Leigh, this is not the time to do the usual tit-for-tat. I mean, Labor certainly supported it, and that's good. They had six years in office and did nothing about it. That's not so good. And of course they did everything they could to stop every Australian from having their say."
The passing of the bill prompted scenes of jubilation in the public galleries and chamber in Canbera on Thursday evening.
The House of Representatives was packed to the rafters with crowds that erupted with cheers and a sustained standing ovation when all but four MPs voted in support of marriage equality, after the upper house Senate passed the bill 43-12 last week.
The bill passed without amendments after MPs voted to knock back a series of last-minute changes to the legislation. The public gallery led a chorus of 'I Am Australian' as Members of Parliament sang along through tears and hugs, just before 6pm on Thursday.
"What a day for love, for equality, for respect! Australia has done it," Turnbull said. "Every Australian had their say and they said it is fair, get on with it!"
The government will deliver on his promise to legalise same-sex marriage before Christmas once Governor-General Peter Cosgrove signs the bill to bring the legislation into effect.
Same-sex couples will be able to lodge a notice to marry from Saturday. Once they have notified a celebrant of their intent to marry they will then have to wait a month before tying the knot.
The first date same-sex couples will be able to get married is January 9, 2018.
Attorney-General George Brandis said marriage will now be defined in the Marriage Act 1961 as the "union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life".
"The right to marry in Australia will no longer be determined by sex or gender," Mr Brandis said.
"Same-sex couples now have the same rights under the Marriage Act as all other couples. These historic reforms will commence on Saturday 9 December 2017.
Magda Szubanski, who has become the face of marriage equality in Australia, said she felt "a little bit delirious" upon hearing the news.
"It is extraordinary. I am single, I can't ... Well, now I can get married," she said.
"I did not do this as a big personal ad, but what an extraordinary moment.
"I could see when I watched all of those people moved to the 'yes' side of the house, I thought Canberra was going to tip over, and for someone who grew up feeling on the brink of suicide, seriously, as so many of us have because we have felt unwanted, unlike, we fell below, to feel so loved now and to see that Parliament nearly tip over in support for us was an amazing feeling."
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten hailed the passing of the bill as a uniting moment for Australia, adding: "Now is the time for healing".
"A time to build, a time to love, and is now at last a time for marriage equality," he said.
Same-sex marriage campaigners converged outside Parliament in Canberra to celebrate the historic occasion, which sees Australia join more than 20 other countries in recognising such unions.
Four MPs voted No, including Russell Broadbent, Bob Katter, David Littleproud and Keith Pitt. Pitt later released a statement explaining his vote.
"My vote today was not for or against same sex marriage, as the Australian people have already decided that," Mr Pitt wrote.
"I did not support the legislation because I believe it does not adequately address the concerns of many in my electorate around religious freedoms, parental choice and the right for parents to raise their children as they see fit.
"The debate today was about the bill and its details. I supported a range of amendments which I believed would have improved the bill, but the final legislation was put without these amendments included.
"I was aware of the opportunity to abstain from the vote today, but in this place I believe you should always have the courage of your convictions."
Earlier, opponents tried to delay voting on the bill, including Tony Abbott, whose attempt to move a "pious amendment" - which would have stopped the progress of the bill - was not supported.
Earlier in the day, people wearing colourful 'Yes' shirts queued for access to the public gallery to witness history being made. There had been little doubt the bill would pass with sweeping support from Nationals, Liberals, Greens, the crossbench and Labor.
Today's decision followed 57 speeches by senators and 118 by members of the House of Representatives as part of the marriage equality debate. Total time for talking in both houses was more than 55 hours.
The bill was developed by a Senate Select Committee after consultation and three public hearings.
Debate started on Monday in the House of Representatives after it was approved in the Senate last week with only technical changes despite a number of amendments being put forward by senators.
Bill Shorten asked gay and lesbian Australians to forgive politicians for years of disappointment and delays on the issue.
Veteran Liberal MP Warren Entsch, who helped draft the bill, kicked off proceedings with a stern warning to his colleagues who wanted to stall its passage.
He said Australians were sick of excuses and delays and that he would oppose any amendments that sought to unwind or remove any legal rights or protections against discrimination.
"This bill will take from no-one. It simply makes a nation a kinder and fairer place," Mr Entsch said while wearing a rainbow tie.
"Delaying equality for every Australian, whether they be from Bundaberg or Fremantle, is simply not good enough."
The House vote followed a long process first put in motion by former prime minister Tony Abbott. In his last months as leader, the No supporter promised to hold a plebiscite on the issue after the 2016 election, a policy that Malcolm Turnbull agreed to respect in order to secure the leadership.
Eventually, Australians were asked to participate in a postal survey that found more than 61.6 per cent voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage. Overall, more than 79 per cent of the population voted during a month-long campaign from September 12 until November 7. Results were revealed on November 16.