Print Friendly, PDF & Email

August 17, 2017

The government believes people should have a direct say in the form of a plebiscite consistent with our election promise.

We have introduced the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill into the Parliament on two occasions and unfortunately, the Labor Party and the Greens denied the Australian people a vote on this important social issue.

Now that the compulsory attendance plebiscite has been rejected by the Labor Party and the Greens, for political reasons, we wish to honour the position we took to the election by holding a postal plebiscite.

This was not our first preference but it is the next best option to keep faith with the commitment we made to give people a say. I supported that policy at the election and continue to support that position.

I think it is important that the debate does not divide our community, but instead is an opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of one another and tolerance for alternate points of view.

Personally, I intend to vote ‘yes’ in the postal plebiscite but I will respect the wishes of the majority when it comes time to vote in the Federal Parliament.

If there is an overall yes vote, I will be advocating to provide appropriate protection to ministers of religion, a right of conscientious objection to civil celebrants and protection for churches and religious bodies.

I believe most Gippslanders want to express their views and I’m sure they will participate in this public debate in a respectful and moderate way.

 

November 24, 2016

I believe that people should be able to participate in a moderate and respectful debate on this issue.

The government believes people should have a direct say in the form of a plebiscite consistent with our election policy.

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, introduced the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016 into the House, prescribing for the date of the vote to be February 11, 2017.

Unfortunately, the Labor Party denied the Australian people a vote on this important social issue.   I’m disappointed that Bill Shorten doesn’t trust in everyday Australians to have their say on this important social issue.

Now that the plebiscite has been rejected by the Labor Party, I cannot see a credible pathway in this term of Parliament.   Coalition Members of Parliament took a clear position to the election and won government, which in effect endorsed our policy position to hold a plebiscite.

I supported that policy at the election and continue to support that position.

Please be assured that I will continue to encourage those participating in this debate to be respectful of others’ views.

 

October 4, 2016

I believe that people should be able to participate in a moderate and respectful debate on this issue.

The government believes people should have a direct say in the form of a plebiscite and has undertaken to take the issue to the Australian people.

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has now introduced the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016 in to the House, prescribing for the date of the vote to be February 11, 2017.

In addition, the Bill authorises and provides funding of $15 million to be equally divided between official ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns to be run by committees composed of Parliamentarians and citizens appointed by the Attorney-General and the Special Minister of State.

I will respect the outcome of the plebiscite when it comes time to vote in the House of Representatives.

Please be assured that I will continue to encourage those participating in this debate to be respectful of others’ views.

 

October 23, 2015

After careful consideration of feedback from across Gippsland over the past seven years, I publicly stated earlier this year that I would vote to amend the Marriage Act if the matter was put to a conscience vote in the future.

There have been calls for the Australian Parliament to decide during this term on changes to the Marriage Act to recognise same sex marriage. The process by which an outcome is achieved is as important as the issue itself and was debated in our Joint Party room meeting in August.

As expected, there were very strong views held on both sides of the debate, but the majority of Coalition Members and Senators were in favour of no change to the Marriage Act in this term of Parliament.

The government has respected that view.  However we believe that the Australian people should have a direct say in the form of a plebiscite.

Recent polling indicates more than 70 per cent of the Australian public support a plebiscite and the former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, stated that the issue would be taken to the Australian people for a vote during the next term of government.

The new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has upheld this view and has undertaken to take the issue to the Australian people in the form of a plebiscite.  Consequently, your vote is worth the same as my vote and every Australian will have the opportunity to have their say on this issue.

I have received respectful and constructive input on this issue and acknowledge that not everyone will agree with my decision.

 

ABC 7.30 REPORT TRANSCRIPT 9/6/2015

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-09/same-sex-marriage-gets-first-nationals-support/6533752

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4251911.htm

 

Gippsland GOLD 1242 INTERVIEW 10/6/2015

https://soundcloud.com/gippsland-today/darren-chester-on-marriage-equality

June 10, 2015

Prior to the 2010 Federal election, I publicly stated that I would vote against changes to the Marriage Act and that is the course of action that I followed in the 43rd Parliament.

The position I took to the 2013 election in relation to same-sex marriage was

• I support a conscience vote for all members of Parliament on this and other social issues and I will advocate within the National Party for that position;
• I believe the issue could be best resolved by allowing the Australian people to have their say in a national plebiscite;
• I recognise that the majority of Gippslanders were opposed to changes to the Marriage Act in 2013 as evidenced by my survey; and
• I believe that, among younger voters in Gippsland, the majority of people are supportive of changes to the Marriage Act.

Over the past seven years as a local MP, there’s been a noticeable shift in support towards same-sex marriage in my electorate and I expect that trend will continue. Younger voters are more supportive on the issue and some older voters have changed their mind.

Having said that, most people I talk to don’t believe it’s a big issue and they want it dealt with so politicians can get on with focusing on other topics like anti-terrorism measures, violence against women, economic security, health and education.

After carefully considering feedback from across Gippsland, including church leaders, advocates for same sex marriage and gay couples, I have decided to vote yes if a conscience vote is provided during the Spring sitting of Parliament.

I want to thank you for your respectful and constructive input on this issue and I acknowledge that not everyone will agree with my decision. However, I believe momentum for change has grown over the past three years particularly among younger voters.  Many older voters have also indicated to me they have changed their mind in recent years as they’ve gained a better appreciation of some of the issues confronting same sex couples in our community.

In reaching my decision, I was very conscious of reports that young gay people in regional communities often felt isolated and were at a higher risk of self-harm and suicide.

Amending the legislation to legalise same sex marriage will send a message of respect, tolerance and acceptance to the wider community and I believe the time is right for the Australian Parliament to make such a decision.

Like the Prime Minister, I strongly prefer a cross-party bill to be presented in the Spring sitting of Parliament and I am hopeful that all MPs will have the opportunity to exercise a conscience vote at that time.

I recognise that my decision will disappoint some people but I agree with the Prime Minister that decent people can have a difference of an opinion on an issue like this.

May 20, 2013

Prior to the 2010 Federal election, I publicly stated that I would vote against changes to the Marriage Act and that is the course of action that I followed in the 43rd Parliament.

My current position in relation to same-sex marriage is less definitive and can be summarised as follows:

• I support a conscience vote for all members of Parliament on this and other local issues and will advocate within the National Party for that position;

• I believe the issue could be best resolved by allowing the Australian people to have their say in a national plebiscite;

• I recognise that the majority of Gippslanders are opposed to changes to the Marriage Act as evidenced by the 66 percent who voted ‘no’ in my 2013 survey;

• I believe that among younger voters in Gippsland, the majority of people are supportive of changes to the Marriage Act; and

• It is my intention to continue to participate in this discussion in a moderate, responsible and respectful manner because I fear the debate has become too divisive.

My final position will seek to balance the views of my electorate, my personal thoughts and the best interests of the Australian nation.

Pin It on Pinterest