Federal Labor has vowed to shut down any attempt to make major changes to a same-sex marriage bill being scrutinised by senators.
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus says the opposition will vote against the “many dozens” of amendments to Liberal senator Dean Smith’s legislation, except some technical tweaks to be proposed by the government, The Australian quoted him as saying.
Among those seeking changes are Liberal senators James Paterson and David Fawcett, who want to include two definitions of marriage – one as between a man and a woman and one as between two people.
“Labor will be opposing all of the substantive amendments that are being proposed,” Mr Dreyfus told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
“We do so with the very clear intention that we need to get this done. It’s not a time for concentrating on issues that have got little or nothing to do with achieving marriage equality in Australia.”
Many of the amendments moved away from equality and increased discrimination on a bill aimed at achieving the opposite, he said.
Changes that propose detailed religious freedoms would pre-empt an inquiry led by former attorney-general and human rights envoy Philip Ruddock on the issue.
Several Labor senators have expressed support for greater religious protections, but none sought a conscience vote on any of the amendments that have so far been put forward.
“The likelihood that some of these issues can be addressed within the limited time frame of this week leaves us with reservations about a number of the amendments as they are currently before us,” Labor’s Jacinta Collins, who will be voting against the final bill, told parliament.
Labor has given its members a free vote on the issue of same-sex marriage.
“I hope and believe that a majority of senators respect the will of the Australian people and will approach amendments with that intent in mind,” opposition Senate leader Penny Wong told reporters.
“Obviously, there are some Labor senators who have a different view on the issue of marriage equality and they have been very honourable and collective in the way they’ve approached these issues.”