Melbourne Greens candidate Adam Bandt says he hopes gay marriage will be a game-changer when voters head to the polls next month.
“I think the debate will really start to shift when seats start changing hands on the basis of issues like this,” he told Southern Star.
“What will start to shift debate will be when people are prepared to speak out publicly and speak out in Parliament about this. For as long as it remains behind closed doors and then [politicians] follow the party line when they actually get elected the debate’s not going to shift.”
After polling strongly against now retiring Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner at the 2007 election, Bandt is tipped to deliver the Greens its first Lower House seat come August 21, needing a swing of 4.7% against Labor’s Cath Bowtell.
“If the [same-sex marriage] comes up in the House of Representatives I will speak out publicly and vote in favour of same-sex marriage and that’s a commitment the Labor party can’t make,” he said.
Bandt was critical of Bowtell’s outward support of gay marriage, saying once elected she wouldn’t be able to walk the walk.
“I’m sick of political aspirants who say one thing during the campaign, but won’t vote that way and won’t speak that way when they’re elected,” he said.
“I think the way politics is in [Australia] at the moment, it seems to be the view of the major parties that the only contest that matters is what’s happening in certain outer suburban marginals, and they have to cast their policies according to that.
“The choice is between, in my electorate, a strong advocate who will speak out publicly and attempt shift the debate and attempt to get legislation up in parliament, versus another line of Labor back-benchers who will follow the party line.”
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has recommitted to reintroducing a bill in the new federal parliament to attempt to amend the Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriage.
“I want to be able to introduce the bill in the Senate and have Adam speak to it in the House of Reps,” she said.
“At the moment there is no-one willing to stand up in the House of Reps for equality and for voters of Melbourne there’s a clear opportunity now to enable that to happen.”.