Marriage Survey Result – “Regret but Respect”

The decision by the Australian people reflected in the postal survey is a decision that I regret but respect.

Changing a fundamental societal institution that pre-existed the nation-state is something which should rightly be decided by the people as a whole and it has been with a very strong turnout despite claims from many quarters that this process would fail.

While disappointed by the result, I am heartened by the strong “no” vote in the face of such a relentless campaign from the “yes” campaign by the media, political elites and celebrities.

To have gained 38.4% of the vote is no small feat and needs to be acknowledged and respected. To put this in perspective, the “no” vote, in percentage terms, is more than:

  •          The Coalition’s current primary vote;
  •          Labor’s primary vote at the last election;
  •          The combined support of the Greens and One Nation; and
  •          The combined support of the Greens, One Nation and Jacqui Lambie in Tasmania.

The voices of the millions of “no” voters deserves to be recognised in the framing of any legislation. A hubristic winner-takes-all approach in this matter would ignore the will of millions of Australians who have concerns about changing marriage.

Protecting fundamental freedoms – freedoms such as parental rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and conscientious objection will be vital to alleviate the valid concerns of millions of Australians. Senator Paterson’s proposed Bill sensitively deals with the majority vote and the concerns of “no” voters.

To defer, let alone defeat, consideration of these vital protections would miss an obvious opportunity to reduce the valid and very real concerns of many Australians.

I place on record my sincere thanks to the thousands of volunteer campaigners who advocated for marriage – especially when they knew from the beginning it would be a difficult campaign. They put principle before populism and made the case for marriage in a calm and respectful way.

It was especially pleasing to see so many young people involved in the ‘no’ campaign.

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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