Equality Australia: Rainbow Votes 2019 - Opening Statement

Opening statement - 23 April 2019

Thank you Anna Brown and the Equality team for pulling the forum together. I have really appreciated the role Equality has played in these past few years. You play an important role in representing the community and I look forward to maintaining our close working relationship.  

The rights of this community are beyond politics - yet this is an election so it's good you can hear from all the parties that we support you.

We the Liberals support the LGBTIQ community. We always have, we always will.

Over our Party’s long history, at both state and federal level, we have worked with the community to end discrimination.

More specifically we have sought to end the ban on homosexuality, subsequently expunge criminal records and more recently, we listed PrEP on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.  

I know this forum is about the future. But it’s also a chance to reflect upon the Parliament that’s recently concluded.

In the last Parliament, we finally delivered on the biggest issue many people involved in advocacy in this community had worked on for years - marriage equality.

I was privileged to lead the Liberals & Nationals for Yes - we worked closely with the Equality campaign and delivered 71/76 seats.

So many people across the political divide campaigned together. The legislation, written by a Liberal, Senator Dean Smith, garnered bipartisan support and became the law of Australia.

In the past I have described the postal survey as the circuit breaker we needed to solve this vexed issue after 10 years of fits and starts.

The reality is that all prior attempts had failed and the popular 61% mandate drove the Bill through in a few weeks.

I know that is an unpopular view amongst many in the community because the postal survey caused hurt for many.  

This is part of the regular feedback I have been provided with.

I spoke at numerous gay rights meetings during the survey and have had many subsequent discussions.

It is something I am sensitive towards and I certainly regret the hurt that was caused.

Now marriage equality has been achieved, I hope one of the takeaways is that the Parliament is capable of legislating to support you.

That’s what the Smith Bill did - it delivered fairness, equality and the same rights and recognition.

And so in the next Parliament, if we are re-elected, we will redouble our efforts to remove existing discrimination.

This starts with the removal of the exemption allowing schools to discriminate against LGBTIQ children. We are committed to legislating this early in the next term.

Our support extends to our financial commitment to stop the spread of AIDS / HIV and financially back in mental health groups which are focusing on your community. We are backing groups like Qlife and MindOUT! with significant financial support in our budget. A few minutes ago, Greg Hunt the Health Minister announced a $2m boost to QLife.

We are also boosting funding to multicultural communities to boost capability.  

And we have commissioned the Australian Legal Rights Commission to ensure that legislative exemptions to discrimination based on a person’s identity are limited or removed, while also protecting the right of religious institutions to conduct their affairs in a way consistent with their religious ethos.

I also want to take this chance to assure you the Coalition does not support conversion therapy. Whilst this is a state issue, we are strongly of the view it is wrong and the Prime Minister has been very clear about our position.

Finally, we are very pleased the NSW Liberal government is providing funding so that Sydney can host the 2023 Pride Games.  

We are committed to advancing the LGBTIQ community and look forward to your questions and working together in the next Parliament.

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April 22, 2021
Senator Andrew Bragg