Interview with Ashleigh Gillion, Sky News

Subjects: Kristina Keneally, Jacqui Lambie, Marriage

E&OE..... Check against delivery.

 

ASHLEIGH GILLION:

Let's bring you some more reaction. Now, joining us live from Canberra is Liberal Senator Eric Abetz. Senator, good to see you. Bennelong well and truly in play now.

ERIC ABETZ:

John Alexander has been an excellent Member for Bennelong. He's served the electorate exceptionally well and I have every confidence that the electorate will reward him over a person that the Labor Party has got out of mothballs a failed Labor leader who suffered the greatest defeat of any State Government in NSW history and who had under her nose three Ministers that have now been dealt with for matters of corruption. Hardly a good track record to go to the people with and say 'I will be a servant of the people of Bennelong. So John Alexander - great recognition, a wonderful, personable individual who knows how to serve the electorate, he's done so exceptionally well and I wish John every success given the unfortunate circumstances in which he finds himself. The sad thing is with that interview with Bill Shorten, he did not tell the Australian people why his Labor Members for Braddon and Longman have not resigned and done the same the decent thing as John Alexander has - that's the real juxtaposition, that's the real choice that the people of Bennelong will have: between a Liberal Party that is willing to acknowledge these errors and a Labor Party that continues to run a protection racket for its members that clearly are in breach of Constitutional provisions.

ASHLEIGH GILLION:

Senator, for any failings that you see in Kristina Keneally as a candidate, she's a very high profile person there in New South Wales. You would think that this really does change the game in terms of this by-election in Bennelong due for December 16th. You say you wish John Alexander every success but how confident are you that he can now hold on to this seat?

ERIC ABETZ:

My view is that with elections that there's no such thing as an unwinnable election or an unloseable election and therefore John Alexander will have the support of every single man and woman in the Liberal Party in New South Wales behind his bid. But look, just because Kristina Keneally is high profile, so was Peter Beattie when he sought to run in the seat of Forde and ultimately people will have to decide whether they want to support a party that is putting forward as the alternate Prime Minister, a man that hid donations from the Australian Electoral Commission and the public and who then has said if he ever became Prime Minister, he would seek to govern like a trade union leader with a legacy of corruption that's been exposed by the Heydon Royal Commission. So you've got that choice between the leadership but also the local candidates and John Alexander is a very grounded individual. I've campaigned with him in the past, he's got a rockstar status not only because of his tennis prowess but also because of his personability and his capacity to mix and mingle within his electorate with all the variety of ethnic communities that are there in the seat of Bennelong so I wish John Alexander the very best for the campaign and he deserves to be reelected. 

ASHLEIGH GILLION:

Talk about local candidates, Kristina Keneally confirmed just there that she lives just a few hundred metres outside the border of the electorate. There are reports that John Alexander himself actually lives in Bondi. I'll seek to clarify that though for our viewers. Senator, this was the second bomb-shell we've seen dropped just this morning. We've also learned just a little earlier that Jacqui Lambie will now be leaving the Senate. She too is a dual citizen. Will you miss Jacqui Lambie? She was a colourful character in the Senate and a Senator for your home state of Tasmania.

ERIC ABETZ:

Jacqui Lambie brought a flair to the Senate which was not everybody's taste but clearly appealed to sufficient numbers of my fellow Tasmanians to have her reelected for a six year term so that can never be taken away from her. She, herself, has now fallen foul unwittingly like John Alexander and others of this dual citizenship situation but yet again I ask, if John Alexander can do the right thing. If Jacqui Lambie can do the right thing why is it that the Labor Members for Braddon and Longman cannot do the right thing? And why is it that Bill Shorten shows such a failure of leadership and incapacity to say to his members 'enough is enough', the integrity of the Parliament, the confidence the Australian people have in the Parliament has to be considered paramount over your short-term political interest in remaining the Member for Braddon or remaining the Member for Longman and this is just a complete indication of Bill Shorten's inability, incapacity and unsuitability to be the Prime Minister of this country. He will always put Labor Party politics before the national interest.

ASHLEIGH GILLION:

Well, the Labor Party insists its got legal advice saying that its MPs are clear on that front. Senator, I do want to ask you about the same sex marriage postal vote with the results this time tomorrow will be clear. Most people expecting a 'yes' vote. The Attorney-General George Brandis insisting that any same sex marriage Bill will contain ample religious protections. Does Dean Smith's Bill do that in your view and do you believe that James Paterson's rival Bill should actually be debated in your own Party Room in the Parliament?

ERIC ABETZ:

I'm still hopeful of a 'no' vote but given the hypothetical you've put forward, in the event of a 'yes' vote, I think what is needed is the delivery of that which the Australian people have voted for but then surely there has to be the good grace of saying to all the 'no' voters, we understand your concerns and we will seek to alleviate those concerns by having a comprehensive suite of protecting actual rights. Indeed, the President of the Human Rights Commission has acknowledged that same sex marriage is not a human right unlike freedom of speech, parental rights, freedom of religion, freedom of conscientious objection and therefore all those things need to be protected and last night, I took myself through Senator Paterson's Bill and I must say, it goes a long, long way to addressing and alleviating alot of those concerns so I think Senator Paterson has done marvellous work in relation to this Bill and in the event of a 'yes' vote, I think his is a blueprint to try and bring as much of the community together in circumstances where this is a difficult issue - where men and women of good faith are on both sides of the debate and so the question is do you just ram it through and say 'a win is a win is a win' or do you say that a substantial minority, in the event of the 'yes' vote getting up, is worthy of getting their view heard in the Parliament and considered with some ameliorating and alleviating of concerns to ensure that their concerns are met so I think Senator Paterson has done excellent work.

ASHLEIGH GILLION:

Senator, we know your personal view on this. You've been campaigning for the 'no' vote. A pamphlet you sent out during the campaign claimed that one consequence of a 'yes' vote would be that compulsory, radical gay sex education would be taught in schools and parental rights would be rejected. I spoke with the Education Minister Simon Birmingham earlier on the program. He was very definite that will not be the case. He was trying to reassure parents there will be no changes in classrooms as a result of the 'yes' vote. Are you willing to retract those statements or apologise to parents for making these claims about potential outcomes for the vote?

ERIC ABETZ:

Absolutely not. The unfortunate history in the United Kingdom and elsewhere is, and we've got to real life example, with a Jewish girls school in the United Kingdom having its registration threatened because it was not willing to teach to primary school girls the homosexual agenda and the transgender agenda that the government thought was now appropriate given that same-sex marriage had been legislated in the United Kingdom - a real life example and to suggest that it won't happen, with respect, is to ignore history, the recent events in a very similar country and constituency like our own namely the United Kingdom. A definite example that cannot be pushed aside and we've got to protect against this and if Senator Birmingham is of that view, he will have no difficulty in supporting Senator Paterson's legislation which would guarantee that which he promises. If he's willing to promise it, I simply say let's put it in as a guarantee in the legislation. 

ASHLEIGH GILLION:

Eric Abetz, thanks for joining us. 

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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Contact

136 Davey Street
Hobart  TAS  7001

(03) 6224 3707

Senator.Abetz@aph.gov.au

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