Tonight, I place my views on the record given the current Australian postal plebiscite survey. Members know that on this issue we may not see eye to eye. As a Pastor, I have performed marriage ceremonies uniting a man and a woman together with God, asking for His blessing and guidance through the Holy Spirit. I believe marriage and the family is the basic unit, the foundation, the bedrock, the load-bearing beam of society. I believe children are the most vulnerable members of our society. Marriage provides a stable environment for children to be nurtured, raised and educated by their mother and father.
I acknowledge the very real concerns expressed by former Prime Ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott, as well as by former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, heads of churches, imams and other concerned groups that if the definition of marriage were to be altered it would have severe ramifications for the make‑up of our social fabric. I also believe people should be able to stay true to their convictions. In this debate I hold serious concerns that freedom of religion is not adequately protected in Australia and in this State. The Christian Democratic Party holds strong concerns for the ramifications of changing the definition of marriage. We know that the protections offered to ministers of religion do not go far enough, let alone the flow-on effects of such a change.
The change to this definition has had real effects around the world. In Australia there have been attacks on Margaret Court, the response to Coopers Brewery involvement in the debate, and charges brought against Archbishop Julian Porteous in 2016, which were later dropped. These attacks cannot be ignored; we cannot turn a blind eye to them. Every decision and action that a human being takes has consequences, whether good or bad. That is the reality of the situation. As experienced legislators in this House, we know that we make amendments to law that often involve amending a number of Acts so they can continue to work harmoniously. To us it is an expected, necessary and common process. What is not helpful is the denial of this fact by the yes campaign and its supporters. There is enough evidence to show that changes to the marriage Act will infringe on my belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and God. It will change what children are taught in schools about marriage and about gender.
I note the hard line that Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile had to draw in order to articulate our deep concerns about the Safe Schools program. It was supposedly an anti-bullying program but it did not address the concept of bullying. Concerned parents had to mount a phenomenal campaign for their voices to be heard. Through representations made by the Christian Democratic Party to the Government, a new broader anti-bullying program has been established and resourced for students, parents and teachers. If the definition of marriage is changed it will mean taking gender out of our laws. The flow-on effect will be that parents will not have a leg to stand on if they do not want their kids taught gender ideology. Some of those resources are available through the Safe Schools program.
Every human being is entitled to live according to his or her conscience, whether or not that be faith driven. Everyone has the right to a conscientious objection no matter their view of the world. We are increasingly being told that our belief is unacceptable and discriminative. Sadly, we are then labelled homophobes and bigots, which I find deeply hurtful. Tolerance does not equal endorsement. It must go both ways. This nation and the people I represent in this great State deserve the right to have their voices heard on the matter of marriage. We commend the postal survey and say, "It is okay to say no".