Q&A: Penny Wong Accuses Liberals Of 'Attacking Our Children' Over Marriage Equality

Wong said Liberals should cross the floor to block the plebiscite bill.

26/09/2016 10:49 PM AEST | Updated 26/09/2016 11:47 PM AEST
But it's far from over.

Labor Senate leader Penny Wong is pretty damn tired of talking about the marriage equality plebiscite.

On Monday night's Q&A, the South Australian senator vented her frustrations as the same-sex marriage plebiscite debate continues without any resolution following a meeting between Labor and Coalition representatives in Brisbane on Monday (which you can read all about here).

Wong said the Coalition are pushing for a plebiscite so Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull can appease the far-right of his party, claiming that the divisive discourse over marriage equality is already harming Australian children.

"A plebiscite is all about the internal politics of the Liberal Party, not about delivering marriage equality," Wong said on the program.

"What I find extraordinary is George Christensen is willing to cross the floor and hold the government to ransom on high income superannuation tax breaks but no-one in the moderates of the Liberal Party is prepared to put the pressure on and say we want a vote in the Parliament, because that's what the Australian people want.

"This issue -- I'm really tired of talking about it. I'd just like to get it done."

However, when asked whether it would just be smarter to vote in favour of the plebiscite bill to get marriage equality through in February (when Turnbull plans to hold the plebiscite) Wong said it is important for not only parliamentarians, but the public, to continue to put pressure on the government for a free parliamentary vote.

"Fifty eight gay and lesbian organisations have come out against it. You have had Liberal Party members distributing material that attacks our children," Wong said.

"Bring it into the Parliament and give people a free vote. We don't have to spend $200 million which would be far better spent on something else."

Former Liberal MP Amanda Vanstone butted heads with Wong on the panel, saying it would simply be smarter to vote for the plebiscite to get marriage equality legislated.

"The plain facts are [the Coalition] went to the election with the policy, it was decided in the previous Parliament and we were elected," Vanstone said.

"We can go ahead and do it or you guys that didn't win can pretend you did."

For months the Coalition have been pushing for a plebiscite to decide on same-sex marriage while Labor have been pushing for a free vote in Parliament (claiming the alternative would prompt hate speech as it enters the public discourse).

But the issue dominated headlines on Monday after Attorney-General George Brandis met with Labor's Mark Dreyfus and Terri Butler in Brisbane to negotiate over the plebiscite stalemate.

Both sides came out of the meeting with no resolution claiming the other party was not willing to consider compromising.

Brandis told reporters he asked the Labor representatives "what do you want?" nine times, while Dreyfus said Brandis was not willing to budge on any points around the plebiscite.

While the blame game continues, Brandis is willing to meet with Labor before Parliament resumes on October 10 and Labor have a caucus vote to either support or block the plebiscite bill on October 11.

And Penny Wong will still be tired.

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