Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:45): Today the High Court has ruled on the validity of the Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013, an act of the Legislative Assembly of the ACT. It held that the territory was unable to make such laws. It found that section 51(xxi) of the Constitution gives the federal parliament power to pass a law providing for same-sex marriage. We can presume that the government or the Prime Minister brought the appeal to the High Court on the presumption that it is proper that this parliament should consider such laws.
In February last year I brought a private member's bill before this parliament which would have provided for marriage equality. The bill did not succeed, and the reason it did not succeed is that members of the coalition were not given a conscience vote on the issue.
I believe that on this issue members of this place are lagging behind public opinion. I believe we are different but equal and we should not be differently equal before the laws of this place. I call on members opposite and I call on the government to allow its members to have a conscience vote on this issue when a bill is next brought before us.