23 August 2017

Mornings, ABC Radio Darwin

STEER: The Senate has voted against the Governments attempt to commence debate on its compulsory same sex marriage plebiscite. A postal plebiscite will now go asking Australians is same sex marriage should be legalised. Debate on the bill was stopped in November last year and the Government was trying to bring it on for a debate again today.

Northern Territory Labor SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY is in Canberra just walked out of the Senate. What happened Malarndirri?

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, SENATOR FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: Look we certainly heard from many of the senators Adam and Penny Wong the Leader of Labor Senate got up and spoke very passionately and strongly in the reality of this situation is a stunt, and the impact this will have personally on the lives of many Australians who dont need it to go down this track.

STEER: We have already seen some vitriol; some pretty horrid pamphlets coming out are you concerned that the debate is going to turn a little nasty as we hurtle towards a postal vote.

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: I am absolutely concerned that this is the result that we didnt want. Where Australians turn on each other, where the children in particular of the LGBTI community are facing all sorts of abuse and all sorts of criticism and their families, this is not the Australian that we want and we certainly do not, and never have, encouraged this to be the path for our country.

STEER: Earlier this morning Northern Territory Pride Spokesman Daniel Alderman said he thinks the public wants to move on from issue rather than have a postal vote.

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: What we wanted was a free vote on the floor of the parliament. This is about human rights. I have said from the get go back in November last year when we voted on the floor of the parliament, this is a decision that can be made on the floor of the parliament, that should be made on the floor of the parliament, and that is it. Lets have it. But clearly that is something that Malcolm Turnbull and his party are unable to make that decision and the division in that party and the lack of leadership has shown a poor direction for our country to follow.

STEER: What is wrong with the Government saying we want the people to have their say on same sex marriage rather than get the politicians to vote on it?

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: We spoke about this in November and we explained in the debate that we had that went on for numerous hours that this is a human rights issue as well. Why should this go to the people of Australia when we are here as elected members to make decisions responsibly on their behalf.

STEER: $140 million although today I think that has been estimated at $120 million for the estimated cost of the non-binding postal vote. Whats your reaction to that Senator?

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Well its absolutely outrageous. When we look at the cuts to health and education and to our teachers in the bush, to housing to all the areas in terms of GP to the aged pension this is outrageous. A Government that says $2 billion needs to be cut to the Northern Territorys economy. I am furious.

STEER: What is the next step here?

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Well the next step is of course is the that we will certainly continue to reach out to all areas of the Australian sector to express our deep concern over the direction that this is going and we will be having further conversation in our caucus room as well.

STEER: is there any way to avoid the postal vote now or is that inevitable?

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Oh no, unfortunately it goes straight to a postal vote Adam.

STEER: No doubt we will talk again

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Can I just add though, my deep concern now with the postal vote is that we know remote and regional residents of the Northern Territory are unable to take part in that postal so certainly as the Senator for the Northern Territory I will be pointing that out very clearly to the unfairness of people having a say.

STEER: So what youre saying is that those postal votes wont get to those remote and regional communities.

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: We just know that peoples addresses are not easy, even in the town camps of Alice Springs for example. There are some critical logistical and very practical issues that impact the people of the Northern Territory and I will be highlighting that in the next couple of days.

STEER: Senator good to talk to you today, no doubt we will talk to you again on this issue.