Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) – I rise to make a contribution to the debate on the Adoption Amendment (Adoption by Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2015. I start off by congratulating the member for Euroa on her excellent contribution as the lead speaker for the opposition on this legislation. When it comes to the amendments that are moved in her name to omit clause 17 from the bill I say from the start that I support that amendment. I believe the government has made a mistake by rolling these two issues together in the one piece of legislation. As previous speakers have already said there is a review of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 underway. Why did the government not leave it to that review and have a sensible debate around the issue of same-sex adoption without including clause 17 as part of this bill?
A range of views are expressed around the chamber on these sorts of pieces of legislation. I have listened to the contributions to this debate and respect has been shown to everyone. It would be good if the gallery was full when we had these types of debates rather than at question time because this is actually when the house is at its best.
I also put on the record my thanks to all the people in my electorate who contacted me about this piece of legislation particularly those who made the effort to make a personal contribution rather than just forwarding on a chain email. As members of this house all know on certain campaigns we get a substantial number of chain emails. I always appreciate it particularly on issues like this when people make the effort to write their own thoughts down rather than just forwarding an email that someone else has put in place. I thank all the people of Murray Plains who sent me their thoughts on this piece of legislation and I hope I reflect the views that were put to me both in this contribution and when I vote on the bill later on.
As has already been said from the opposition’s point of view on the actual bill itself there will be a free vote. As a party we are supporting the amendment moved by the member for Euroa to omit clause 17. When it comes to the free vote as the bill stands at the moment I put on the public record that I cannot support it and the overwhelming majority of people in my electorate who have contacted me do not believe that I as their member should support the legislation. Again I think the government has made a mistake by rolling these two issues together.
There have been many contributions from members around the issue of what is in the best interests of the child with this legislation. There would not be any disagreement from anyone in this chamber about the fact that we are all interested in good outcomes in the legislation we enact and in this case whatever is done should be in the best interests of the child. I do not think there is any debate about that from members of this chamber. Children are something so special that we should always be doing things in this place that are in their best interests. But I firmly believe in freedom of religion and clause 17 impinges on those freedoms. I do not believe that my views should be forced on anyone else or that other people should force their views onto me. Clause 17 does that with the Catholic Church and that is why I would like to see the opposition amendments supported.
As we all know the government is in control of the business program in this house and no doubt we will not get an opportunity to vote on that clause. It will be disappointing if the bill goes to the guillotine and we just vote on the substantive bill and not the amendments. I put on the record that I will not be supporting the legislation as it is before the house.