COMEDIAN Magda Szubanski and Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes joined forces on ABC’s Q&A program to defend marriage equality and call on the Australian Government to ditch the February plebiscite on the issue.

The first 15 minutes of Monday’s program was dedicated to the issue of marriage equality after an audience member asked if it would be better to hold a plebiscite rather than wait another three years and a new term of parliament for marriage equality to pass.

The panel featured Szubanski, Barnes, National Party Senator Fiona Nash, Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie and Labor MP Tony Burke.

Szubanski said she was worried about how much the plebiscite was going to cost – $175 million in federal funding – and that the money could be spent funding health and education.

Nash then went on to say she believed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had showed great leadership on the plebiscite issue, that marriage equality was too important an issue and the Australian public should have their voices heard on the matter.

Szubanski went on to drop a massive bombshell – that she is the godmother of Barnes’ granddaughter – but also delivered a heartfelt message about not feeling equal based on her sexuality.

“Now, Jimmy and I are family. I’m the godmother of his granddaughter. He’s a Scottish migrant, I’m a Polish-Scottish migrant. His wife is Thai. I’m a lezzo. We are that modern family,” she said.

“What threat does it pose except I don’t have the same rights as other people?”

Szubanski then said to Senator Lambie: “I want to address you on a more personal level. You have an unconventional family yourself, Jacqui. As a single mother, Lambie would once have been treated terribly. That is what is happening to me and my community now.”

The comedian then in one question summarised the whole debate when she asked Nash, “one simple question. Do you think I’m equal to you?”

Nash tried to argue that she did view Szubanski as an equal but was interrupted by the comedian who came out in 2012 asking: “If I was your daughter, and, being gay, would you think that I should have the right to be married?”

“I’ve been asked this question a lot over the last 12 months and my response was that my view is still the traditional view of marriage. I love my children, regardless of what they ever brought home for me, it would make absolutely no difference at all. I completely respect your view and your desire to see that as equality…” Nash said.

To which Szubanksi replied: “But you won’t give me my rights. Thanks for nothing.”

Nash said she thought the Australian public could conduct itself in a mature way and have a respectful debate ahead of the plebiscite, but most of the panel disagreed.

“I have friends who lived in Ireland and it was very, very ugly debate… it got really below the belt,” Barnes said.

“I don’t know if we want to put children and families through this.”

“If the intention is to have equality, it’s not equality if you pick this as the one issue in the last hundred years that you have to have a plebiscite over,” MP Tony Burke said.

Fairfax Media’s Neil McMahon described the episode as one of Q&A’s “most compelling and emotional outings”.

“Who knew that Australia had a fearless, fearsome, two-pronged political powerhouse hiding in plain sight for decades?” he wrote.

“Paired on a unity ticket in public debate, they both do serious, and they do it seriously well.

“Indeed, if they decided to apply their minds and mettle to it full-time… well, place your bets, people. A politician in a pickle – let’s say, as a random example, a Prime Minister with a problematic plebiscite to sell – might find himself asking the question: would I survive an hour in the ring with Jimmy and Magda taking turns to give me a wedgie?

“Actually, Malcolm Turnbull, we can answer that for you now. No, you wouldn’t.”

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