THE battle for the federal seat of Griffith that was vacated by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is in full swing leading up to next weekend’s by-election, but one issue has the backing of both.
Griffith electorate candidates from the Labor and Liberal-National parties indicated their support towards legislating for marriage equality earlier this year.
According to LNP candidate Bill Glasson, only PM Tony Abbott’s current refusal to allow a conscience vote prevented him from voting in support of it.
Meanwhile Labor’s candidate Terri Butler told the Star Observer that she has been a long time proponent of LGBTI rights.
“I have always been a strong supporter of marriage equality and this will continue. I’ve personally been involved with Rainbow Labor in pushing for improvements for the rights of LGBTI people,” she said.
Prior to the 2013 election, Kevin Rudd declared his support for same-sex marriage and Butler believed the issue was still on the minds of Griffith residents.
However, Butler questioned Glasson’s support for marriage equality and suggested that if he did not want to vote against his own views, he should urge Tony Abbott to allow a conscience vote.
“Though my opponent has expressed his personal support… he would not be able to vote in favour in the parliament,” she said.
“My opponent has already shown that he won’t [stand up for the electorate]… he didn’t stand up for Griffith when [Premier] Campbell Newman cut local health services and jobs, and he won’t stand up to Tony Abbott.”
On the topic of LGBTI asylum seekers, Butler said that the Abbott government’s lack of transparency was “of great concern”.
A policy announced when Labor was in government and Rudd himself was PM last year now sees LGBTI asylum seekers arriving by boat transferred to Papua New Guinea – a country where homosexuality is illegal. The Abbott government is continuing with the same policy.
Butler acknowledged the division this created in Griffith but said discussion on it was hampered by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s media blackout.
Glasson was approached for comment but declined to speak to the Star Observer, with his spokesperson stating: “Dr Glasson is now focussing only on media requests from locally-based publications and broadcasters so he can maintain his local campaigning.”