Debate on same-sex marriage bill continues

The last of 125 speeches totalling 21 hours by MPs on same-sex marriage wrapped up late on Wednesday night, paving the way for a potential final vote today. MPs will be able to propose and consider amendments, before voting on the legislation itself. Tony Abbott’s amendment fails

Warren Entsch gave a final second reading speech on the bill and said a clerk had confirmed if an amendment from Tony Abbott was carried “it will stop the progress of the bill”.

Mr Abbott’s amendment was not supported and the bill has now moved to the next step.

Mr Entsch also called out Bob Katter’s speech last night, saying: “His pathetic attempts of humour, insensitivity and grossly misleading comments were devoid of any facts and were highly offensive, embarrassing and cringe-worthy.

“They need to be called out for what they are. His speech exemplifies what the LGBTI community have had to endure to so long.”

Amendments to be considered

Several government MPs, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, have said they will support – or at least consider – amendments to be put forward by their conservative colleagues – namely Andrew Hastie and Michael Sukkar.

Labor will oppose any change, as will cabinet minister Christopher Pyne who branded some of the amendments “superfluous” and “unnecessary”.

If the bill passes unchanged from the one that cleared the Senate last week, it will become law.

If changes are successful, the bill will have to return to the Senate for approval.

Bob Katter delivers bizarre speech on same-sex marriage

Just after 10pm last night Bob Katter decided he would join his colleagues in the House of Representatives and share his thoughts on same-sex marriage.

It was quite the eye-opener.

Mr Katter began his rambling address by criticising the debate as “drivel” and noting that no one seems to get married in North Queensland anyway.

“Down in the pub, in the real world, where I live and other people live, I walked into the pub and said, ‘Bobby, I’m going bush, mate, before they make it compulsory,’ and everyone roared laughing. But you don’t live in that world. You don’t live in that world where real people live. You live down here, where you listen to this incredible concoction of drivel.”

Mr Katter said he had been accused of being anti-homosexual but said people should read his book (“only $29 at all best-selling bookshops”) which mentioned a “humorous” story about a homosexual friend.

In another strange twist he then acknowledged he was not proud of his party being considered an anti-homosexual party.

“As a party – and I am not particularly proud of this – we started out our life with an advertisement, which was a most unpleasant advertisement. I agreed to it, so I will take the blame, along with everyone else. It established us as a very anti-homosexual party.”

Despite the admission, Mr Katter then went on to brag about how high the party’s vote had been in the Queensland election.

He later started rambling about genetics, AIDS and the “vanishing race”.

“The people advocating this proposition tonight, the LGBTIs, have maybe 60 years on their side. I have 3.5 million years of genetic programming on my side, because we human beings, they tell us, have been around for 3.5 million years,” he said.

“One thing that is absolutely certain is that we’ve all developed from heterosexual couples. That is one thing we know absolutely – up until the last 40 years, anyway.

“So, genetically, we are programmed that way.”

Mr Katter asked why Australia continuously had the highest male juvenile suicide rates in the world.

“There is something going wrong here. We have an extraordinary incidence of homosexual behaviour in Australia compared with other nations.”

Then made extraordinary allegations about children getting AIDS.

“You talk about equality. They wanted equality in the giving of blood. They said, ‘We as homosexuals have a right to give blood,’ so they did, and I think 72 children were injected with AIDS from the blood that was given. It was hushed up. It was amazing to me that it never got any publicity at all.”

His bizarre address hit its zenith when Mr Katter started talking about Australia being a vanishing race.

“Mr Deputy Speaker, there is an ultimate statement upon a race of people, and that is that they simply vanish from the gene pool.

“If you take out my cousin-brothers, the First Australians, and if you take out the migrant population in Australia – recent migrants – then we have the lowest birthrate on earth.

“We are a vanishing race. Bob Birrell, the demographer from Melbourne, wrote an article in which he said that the current population of Australia is 22 million and within 100 years the population of Australia will be 7,000. I thought, ‘This is ridiculous!’ I went down to check it in the library. He said that when 20 Australians die they’re replaced by only 17 people, and if that happened five times over a century then we would go from 21 million or 22 million people – whatever it was at the time – down to seven million people.”

At this point, Leader of the House of Representatives, Christopher Pyne interjected: “Bobby, this is rubbish”.

Katter retorted: “I don’t know; you might be a member of the vanishing race. You’d better shut up because you will be shortly if I lose my temper. I finally conclude on this – “

At which point Deputy Speaker Mark Coulton finally broke in: “Order! The member’s time has expired.”

To read the entire speech, click here.

– With AAP