The Greens have come under heavy criticism after they voted with the Coalition to gag debate on the bill to legalise same-sex marriage – something they have previously backed.
Amid that criticism – notably (and understandably) from Labor supporters – there was also disappointment from within the ranks of Greens voters themselves.
AIMN reader Jane Salmon did the only sensible thing to do and wrote to Greens senators Scott Ludlam, Richard Di Natale, Lee Rhiannon, Sarah Hanson-Young, Rachel Siewert, Janet Rice, Larissa Waters as well as Adam Bandt with a ‘please explain’ and expressing that this gag was damaging the Greens brand.
Jane has received two responses which explain the motive behind their actions (or inaction – depending on which side of the political fence you sit). Given the criticism the Greens have received (from The AIMN included), in the pursuit of balance it is only fair that we consider both sides of the argument. As such, Jane has given us permission to publish those responses.
From the Office of Senator Richard Di Natale
Thank you for contacting Senator Di Natale, and for your support of the Greens previous elections.
Yesterday the Senate was full of cynical game playing. It was truly politics at its worst.
The Australian Greens are proud of their record on supporting marriage equality. No party has fought harder or longer for marriage equality than the Greens. We have always supported it – every vote, every time.
The vote on Tuesday 15 March was not a vote on marriage equality. Instead, it was a procedural vote, designed to replace Senate voting reform with debating marriage equality. To be clear, the Labor Party is being deceitful when it says we voted against marriage equality. That would never happen. We voted against their trick, and their plan is to make us look bad.
The Greens are pleased to have arranged to bring marriage equality to a debate, and hopefully a vote, in the Senate during private senator’s time on Thursday 17 March. This means that the Australian Parliament can deal with both marriage equality and Senate voting reform this week. It has been really disappointing to see the issue of marriage equality being exploited as a political stunt to try and derail important democratic reform.
Every Greens MP and senator in the parliament will vote for marriage equality, as we always have in the past.
And just to be clear – no one wants to see the Liberals out of Government more than the Greens.
The Greens provided crucial votes against Abbott’s most cruel and callous budget measures, votes which ensured the majority of Abbott’s ruthless measures were not passed. We will be campaigning tirelessly across the country to ensure all of our Senators who are up for re-election are retained, so we can continue to be the voice of reason, compassion and equality in the Australian parliament – and to keep the Senate safe.
The Greens have consistently voted against the government in the Senate, more so than any other party or independent:
|Party/Independent||Voted with the Government|
I hope this helps explain what took place yesterday, and clears up any concerns. We will continue to fight for marriage equality – and we’ll keep fighting for equality until discrimination has been removed from our laws.
If you’d like to chat further about these issues, please let us know. We don’t want to lose your support.
Neneh Darwin | Community Liaison
Office of Senator Richard Di Natale
Leader of the Australian Greens | Senator for Victoria
From the Office of Senator Larissa Waters
Thank you for contacting Senator Waters, who asked me to respond on her behalf.
Yesterday the crossbench tried to bring on Marriage Equality & Coal Seam Gas as tactics to slow down Senate Voting Reform. We are not going to be derailed by “tricky little political tactics” (to quote Richard on Radio National yesterday morning).
No party has fought harder or longer for marriage equality than the Greens. What we voted on yesterday was a procedural motion that sought to prevent us from debating Senate Voting Reform. We did not vote down a Marriage Equality Bill. The Greens were able to work constructively with the ALP to ensure that marriage equality will be debated during private senator’s time on Thursday. Greens and Democrats Senators were the only parliamentarians who spoke against John Howard’s laws which defined marriage as between a man and a woman in 2004. Since then, every time the issue of marriage equality has come up in parliament, every Greens MP has voted in favour.
With regard to coal seam gas Senator Lazarus tried to wedge the Greens by a complicated Senate tactic. (Effectively piggybacking a bill about CSG onto the motion to bring forward the extreme anti-worker ABCC legislation that we don’t support) So of course we couldn’t support that. As with marriage equality what we voted on was a procedural motion that sought to prevent us from debating Senate Voting Reform.
Office of Senator Larissa Waters
Co-Deputy Leader Australian Greens, Australian Greens Senator for Queensland
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