SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

TRANSCRIPT

12 August 2017

THE PROJECT

TOPIC: MARRIAGE EQUALITY PLEBISCITE

E&OE - PROOF ONLY

WALEED ALY: Senator Penny Wong has been at the heart of the debate. She joins us. Penny, Labor’s committed to the yes campaign and to campaigning for that. But that does put you at odds with some marriage equality advocates complaining the plebiscite lacks political and legal legitimacy and therefore should be boycotted. So why are you not supporting a boycott?

SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: First, great to be with you. I can perfectly understand why people want to boycott. This is a rubbish process. We shouldn’t be here. We don’t want to be here. But now we’re here, we do have to fight. I just think a boycott gives those who oppose equality what they want. They want to be able to win this. They’ve certainly stacked this vote against us. It is going to be very hard to win. And as I said, we didn’t want to be here, but now we are. I just think that we have to fight for equality.

MESHELL LAURIE: I completely agree with that sentiment. But I think we have to acknowledge that part of what makes this feel like a rubbish process is the fact that you failed to support marriage equality in 2010 as part of the Gillard Government. I mean, it feels hypocritical, doesn’t it? I think that’s cut through to the community. Do you acknowledge that?

WONG: I wish this had already been done. I agree with you on that. In 2010 I had to argue a position I didn’t agree with. You get a choice as a party member don’t you? You either resign or do something like that and make a point or you stay and fight and you change it.

I think that what has been really heart-warming is that the Australian people have shifted so much. If you think about the last ten years, over time people have come to the view that actually, what’s wrong with having people who love each other have the opportunity to get married?

ALY: So Penny, sorry for the detour. But could you give us a list of other Labor positions that you currently and privately think are rubbish? (LAUGHTER)

WONG: That’s good. That’s good. Now we’re all sorted at our end. (LAUGHTER)

GORGI COGHLAN: Now, Penny, you of all people don’t need to be reminded of the personal toll this debate is taking on yourself. What about other LGBTQI people around the country that are really struggling at the moment? What’s your advice?

WONG: Be strong. It is really hard to be told you don’t belong. It’s really hard to be told you’re different and it’s really hard to hear some of the pretty ugly things which are said. But how you are is OK. There are a lot of people who are on our side and we just have to stay strong in the face of that kind of discrimination, prejudice and unfortunately sometimes, hatred.

ALY: Great to speak with you.