LEADING federal Labor regional MP Stephen Jones says it’s now time to “bloody well do it” and get on with the task of changing laws to legalise same sex marriage in Australia.
Mr Jones spoke out with an impassioned plea after the results of postal vote survey were returned today showing a clear victory for the ‘yes’ vote with about 62 per cent in favour of the reforms.
He said the results also indicated a strong showing in regional areas and specific federal electorates proving voters in the bush are as progressive thinking as city-folk, in backing legalising same sex marriage.
“This marriage equality vote is an amazing result for regional Australia,” he said on Twitter.
“It confounds what many of the inner city types think about us.”
That response now placed pressure on the Nationals to vote and agree with changing the laws, to allow same sex couples to marry, he said.
Mr Jones said he now called on Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce to re-consider changing his personal stance and the party’s position on the issue, which the now disqualified New England MP had previously indicated would be likely, if the ‘yes’ vote was returned, indicating the will of the voters.
“This afternoon in the Senate which is sitting this week, a Bill will be introduced so when the House of Representatives comes back (November 27) it should be ready to be debated on and voted on there,” he said of the proposed laws to alter the marriage act.
“But frankly, I just want us to get on and bloody do it so we can get on with all of the other stuff that needs to be done.
“This vote is an extraordinary result because it shows there’s no big difference when you look at the regions, versus the inner city or urban electorates, when it comes to an issue such as marriage equality and accepting people of different sexual orientation.
“It shows the people in the regions are just as accepting as people in the cities.
“It doesn’t shock me because I come from a regional area but it’ll shock a lot of people, including some who represent rural electorates who’ve said all sorts of things about the willingness of their electorates to accept these changes.
“I look at a lot of the National Party MP’s who’ve said ‘I may think one way but my electorate just won’t accept it’ but this result proves that they were wrong.”
Mr Jones said the ‘yes’ vote was also a vote for diversity and equality and a “good thing for a lot of the regions, economically”.
“I wrote an opinion article when the ballot fist opened which said a lot of regional areas that are trying to push for decentralisation and attract people to move out of the cities, the sort of workers they’re after are ones who are likely to want to live in an open and diverse, vibrant community ,” he said.
“The result of this survey shows that regional Australia is exactly that.
“Barnaby Joyce’s electorate, a strong result in New England, Paige, in Gilmore and Hume also in NSW, in regional Victoria the seats of Wannon, Mallee, Bendigo and Ballarat and Indi, all of Tasmanian and in WA, they all voted overwhelmingly in favour of it.
“It’s a shorter list when you try and find the rural seats that didn’t vote ‘yes’ like Kennedy and Maranoa who are the outliers in Queensland but the rest of Queensland voted in favour.
“I think for the Nationals they’ve got to reconsider their view on this now and ask if they’re going to vote with their electorates or vote with the rump of people they’ve been listening to, to the exclusion of all others.”
New England voted 52.5pc ‘yes’ and prompted CountryMinded candidate Pete Mailler in the by-election to ask how Mr Joyce would now vote on legislation, should he be re-elected on December 2.
“Would he represent the wishes of the majority of his constituents, or would he oppose legislation on this issue?” Mr Mailler said.
“I voted yes and CountryMinded supported the yes vote.”
Senior Nationals MP Darren Chester’s electorate of Gippsland in Victoria 60.2pc ‘yes’ and 39.8pc ‘no’.
SA Liberal Senator Anne Ruston said overwhelmingly, whether they’re from the Nationals, Liberals, Labor, the crossbenches or the Greens, everyone had been “very clear, with the exception of some, that they would honour the will of the people”.
“I think the majority of people in the Nationals will equally respect the fact that the electorate has overwhelmingly said they want to change the marriage act to accommodate people of the same sex to be married,” she said.
“I don’t think there’s anything startlingly new about what’s come out of today.
“The people have spoken and now the parliament needs to act and it will.”
At the Nationals federal conference recently, Mr Joyce told the gathering of party heavyweights, “I am a supporter of the traditional form of marriage, the current definition, absolutely, absolutely”.
“I’m not saying I’m a saint,” he said.
“But I just know that’s the contract that’s going to work – that’s the contract that works.
“But I don’t want to spend every moment of my waking hours just talking about same sex marriage as if it’s the only debate in town.”
Today, Mr Chester said “the tribe has spoken and now we have got to get on with the job of legislating for same sex marriage here in Australia and we want to do that by Christmas”.
“Australians have voted enormously in favour of same sex marriage - it is now incumbent upon us as Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to listen to the Australian people, treat their vote with respect and get it legislated before Christmas,” he said.
“I think you would have to be a mug not to recognise that Australians have voted enormously in favour of change.
“In excess of 60 per cent of the vote was yes.
“It was an incredible turnout: 12.7 million Australians took the opportunity to have their say.
“You would have to be a mug not to listen to the voice of the Australian people.”