Parliament has 'failed Australians'
FINANCE Minister Penny Wong says Federal Parliament has "failed Australians" after two bills to legalise same-sex marriage were defeated in as many days.
A bill sponsored by Labor senators Trish Crossin, Carol Brown, Gavin Marshall and Louise Pratt was defeated 41-26 in the Senate on Thursday afternoon.
It came a day after a similar bill, put forward by Labor backbencher Stephen Jones, went down 98-42 in the lower house.
Senator Wong, whose partner Sophie Allouache gave birth to a baby girl last year, said she was disappointed on "many levels".
"This week, the Parliament failed Australians by not supporting marriage equality and voting against the removal of discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexuality," Senator Wong said.
She said that had Opposition Leader Tony Abbott allowed a conscience vote, the result may have been different.
Labor members and senators were free to vote as they wished.
But despite her obvious disappointment, Senator Wong was drawing on the positives.
"Despite the results in both the House of Representatives and the Senate this week, I believe we have achieved a great deal," she said. "Since the bill has been in the Parliament, our number of supporters has grown.
"We have seen some who previously opposed marriage equality now stand in support of it. We have had a vote on marriage equality."
She said the focus would now shift to the states.
Parliaments in Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales will all vote on legalising same-sex marriage in the future.
"And, unlike Tony Abbott, these State Liberal Leaders have indicated they will allow a conscience vote," Senator Wong said.
Two same-sex marriage bills remain before the Parliament.
The Senate vote came on a day when the fallout from Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi's comments linking homosexuality to bestiality caused a stir in the United Kingdom.
Senator Bernardi, who was sacked from the frontbench after making his remarks in the Senate on Tuesday night, touched down in London on Thursday where he was due to speak at The European Young Conservative Freedom Summit in Oxford, organised by the Tory Party's youth wing.
A Tory Party spokesman moved to distance the party from Senator Bernardi's views.
"We haven't organised this event and are not in control of who attends," the spokesman told the UK's Mail Online.
"We strongly condemn Mr Bernardi's comments which don't reflect (Prime Minister) David Cameron's or the conservative party's viewpoint in any way."
Only three Queensland senators voted in favour of the Marriage Amendment Bill. It came after just two Queensland lower house MPs supported a similar bill on Wednesday (Graham Perrett and Kirsten Livermore). Interestingly Queensland Liberal Senator Sue Boyce broke with party ranks to speak in support of the bill on Thursday. She abstained from the vote.
Here's how Senators from Queensland voted:
Yes: Larissa Waters (Greens), Claire Moore (ALP), Jan McLucas (ALP)
No: Mark Furner (ALP), John Hogg (ALP), Brett Mason (LIB), Ian Macdonald (LIB), Ron Boswell (Nationals), Barnaby Joyce (Nationals).
Absent: Sue Boyce, Joe Ludwig, George Brandis
Here's how Senators from NSW voted:
Yes: Doug Cameron (ALP), John Faulkner (ALP), Lee Rhiannon (Greens), Matt Thistlethwaite (ALP).
No: Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (LIB), Bill Hefferan (LIB), Marise Payne (LIB), Arthur Sinodinos (LIB), Ursula Stephens (ALP), Fiona Nash (Nationals), John Williams (Nationals).
Absent: Bob Carr (ALP)