Watch openly gay senator slam government plans for ‘stunt’ public vote on equal marriage

Senator Penny Wong

The ongoing fiasco of passing equal marriage in Australia is showing no signs of ending, after the ruling party this week voted down plans for a Parliamentary vote on the issue.

Instead, the Liberal-National coalition is pushing forward for plans for a public vote – a plebiscite – despite it previously being blocked by the Senate for being expensive and not legally binding.

Now, openly gay Labour frontbench Senator Penny Wong has delivered a powerful speech explaining why plans for a public vote are nothing more than a “stunt” to save a divided government.

same-sex marriage rally in Sydney, Australia

(Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)

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“The reality is this is all a stunt and everybody knows that,” she said.

“There are a lot of things you could do with $120 million: GP visits, more teachers. I am sure we can go through a whole range of things that $122 million can be spent on far better than a vote that is not going to be binding.”

Ms Wong added: “It is like one big opinion survey to get over the fact the Liberal party room can’t make a decision because they are so divided on the issue and because Malcolm Turnbull, regrettably, has not had the courage of his conviction.

Protesters push for Parliamentary vote on marriage equality

Protesters push for Parliamentary vote on marriage equality (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

“This is a vote whose sole aim is to stop the members of this Parliament being given a chance to do their job and vote.

“This is a vote because some in the Coalition can never countenance equality and they are never going to change their minds.”

Related: Hundreds rally in Sydney for same-sex marriage

She continued: “They simply cannot countenance people like me and others being equal. Simple as that. They are not going to change their minds on this issue.

“If you just bring on a vote, we can save the country $120 million and frankly, put us all out of our misery of having to keep talking about this issue, because, frankly, the country has moved on.”

Ms Wong added that Australia is a parliamentary democracy, where the people elect politicians to do their job.

She said: “This country didn’t have a plebiscite or a postal ballot on the Racial Discrimination Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, native title legislation, scrapping of the white Australia policy, whether women should get equal pay.”

Senator Penny Wong

Senator Penny Wong

Of the suggestion that a public vote could provide a unifying moment for the country, Ms Wong said: “The Australian Christian lobby described our children as the stolen generation.

“We love our children. And I object, as do every person who cares about children, and as do all those couples in this country, same-sex couples who have kids, to be told our children are a stolen generation.

“You talk about unifying moments? It is not a unifying moment. It is exposing our children to that kind of hatred.”

Watch part of Senator Penny Wong’s speech below: