Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (13:13): In a video recorded for the Australian Christian Lobby and for the benefit of people of faith right across this country, just before the 2010 election, the Prime Minister made this statement:
"We have determined, as a Labor Party, that the Marriage Act will stay unchanged so marriage will be defined as it is in our current Marriage Act, as between a man and a woman, and we have also said that the Labor Party policy is we do not want to see the development of ceremonies that mimic marriage ceremonies and so that's the party policy and as Prime Minister, as leader of the parliamentary Labor Party, that's obviously my policy and that's what you should expect to see from the Gillard Labor government if we're re-elected."
That is a pretty clear, explicit and unequivocal statement from the Prime Minister, from the leader of the Labor Party. To press the point, in the context of this interview, the interviewer—the Australian Christian Lobby's Managing Director, Brigadier Jim Wallace—went on to ask the Prime Minister:
"Can I just say that obviously one of the concerns of the constituency here is the knowledge that this was only, it seemed, upheld by direct intervention of the highest levels of the party at the last Labor conference. So you're saying that a Gillard Labor government will keep that policy in place?"
To which the Prime Minister replied, 'Absolutely'.
Then she went on to say:
"I was personally and directly involved in this policy and its development at the last national conference."
So it is very clear that at the 2010 election the Australian Labor Party made a solemn commitment to the electorate to support the legal definition of 'marriage'—that definition, as it is in the current Act, being as between one man and one woman.
The Prime Minister famously made another promise less than a week before election day 2010 when she said, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' And just like we saw that promise broken last year, this month we have seen another promise broken with the introduction of the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 by the Labor member for Throsby after Labor changed its policy at the national conference. And just like the broken carbon tax promise, this broken promise has come at the pushing of my good friend the member for Melbourne and also the Greens. It just shows, after the events of this morning, that in the Labor Party absolutely nothing has changed. We still have a minority government that does not know where it is going and that is completely driven and led by the nose by Senator Bob Brown and his Green colleagues.
Instead of hearing excuses as to why this change happened and hearing lines from the Prime Minister like 'I still support marriage as it is currently defined', the question needs to be asked as to why the Labor Party has gone awry on this issue. That is a decision the Labor Party has made. It obviously has the support of their rank and file and I assume the parliamentary party as well, or at least the majority of members. For the people who sit in churches every Sunday, who cast their vote for the Labor Party on the basis of the Prime Minister's statement, let me read that again:
"We have determined as a Labor Party the Marriage Act will stay unchanged, so marriage will be defined as it is in our current Marriage Act as between a man and a woman."
I read that for those people who cast their vote for the Labor Party on the basis of this issue—this sacrosanct issue for them—not being changed, for the definition of marriage to be retained. What those people should hear from this government and from this Prime Minister is: 'Sorry. Sorry that we once again have duped you. Sorry that we said one thing before the election and now are doing a very, very different thing afterwards.'
But the proposal by the Labor Party to change the legal definition of marriage is not just wrong on the grounds that it is a broken promise. It also flies in the face of Australia's international obligations, because same-sex marriage lends itself to more children being raised without both their biological mother and biological father as their parental figures. Every child deserves a mother and a father. Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states:
"The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents."
Every child deserves a mother and a father. You know why? Because it works. A 2010 Australian Institute of Family Studies report entitled Families then and now : 1980-2010 showed that 72 per cent—almost threequarters— of Australian families with children under the age of 18 years are intact biological families. That is about 2.1 million families in this country. We only need to look at other examples of where children have been robbed of this right to be raised by their mother and father, by their natural parents, to see what trauma it has caused them. When we look at the Aboriginal Australians who were removed from their parents, possibly with the best of intentions of the governments involved at the time, we can see the deep and lasting psychological scars that many Indigenous people still have to this day brought about by their removal through government policy.
Last year's Senate inquiry into the donor conception system in this nation exposed the angst felt by many persons.
One such person speaking publicly on this issue said:
"I was always really proud of being donor created— from time to time we do hear children of same-sex families say they are proud— but, once I had kids of my own, I realised what I had been deprived of. I have a fantastic relationship with my parents ... but things are missing; things that couldn't be provided—identity, heritage, history.
When I look in the mirror, I don't know who that person is."
When I read those words from someone who has been robbed of the right to a mother and father I wonder to myself if we can honestly be sure that as result of this bill we will not be hearing from children of same-sex marriages in the future saying that they have been deprived of a mother or a father and talking about being robbed of their identity, their heritage, their history and their right to a mother and father.
Marriage is all about family—it is all about children; it is all about creating a legal union between a man and a woman, providing permanence in their relationship and establishing a legal bond between those two people and their children. Yes, it is for the benefit of parents but more so for the benefit of children and, as a result, the benefit of society. The only way society can continue is through children. The only reason government is involved in the regulation of relationships through the Marriage Act is because procreation is the only way society can go on. If it were not for that fact, the government would not be playing in this field at all. This is a very important issue that has been neglected in this whole debate. The Labor Party need to come back to the Australian people with what they promised them before the 2010 election.