SUBJECT/S: Marriage Equality postal survey, Takata airbags


GARETH PARKER: Tim Hammond the Member for Perth joins me on the program, good morning Tim.


SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS TIM HAMMOND: Good morning Gareth, great to be with you.


PARKER: Thanks for your time today. So we know now the same sex marriage postal survey will go ahead. It does seem as though the Government and your party are trying to work out what rules might apply to what we can and can’t say in the debate. Where does the Labor party stand on all that at the moment?


HAMMOND: I think we've made pretty good progress over here Gareth. Both sides, I think are showing a really good degree of bipartisanship in making sure we take every reasonable step so we don't see any vilification or hate speech coming through in relation to where we have to go in the coming months in relation to where we have to go with the same sex marriage postal survey. 


We made our position pretty clear in that we didn't think this was the way to go but we have to be pragmatic about that in terms of where we are. The most important thing we do at this stage, well there are probably three things.


Firstly; make sure from my point of view that we campaign for a yes vote.


Secondly; we make sure that all Australians participate but thirdly, and I think in many ways just as importantly, we make sure that is done in a really respectful manner. There have been some good commitments made from both sides today to see some safeguards around protecting people from being vilified in this debate.


PARKER: The proposal that's on foot from the Government talks about banning vilification, intimidation, threats to cause harm that are based on sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, religious conviction. All views people hold on the survey. Are you going to be able to legislate for all types of speech that will inevitably flow from this debate we are having and what's the penalty going to be? A $12,000 fine?


HAMMOND: My concern is that we won't and that has been part of our fundamental concern all the way through. And that is the longer this drags on the more opportunity there is for those in the debate to be irresponsible about what they say. Look, I think you can do the best you can and by also creating those penalties and putting authorisation requirements on this material so those who are printing this stuff can be tracked down if it is that they have transgressed those lines.


It kind of gets back to the fundamental point that we've had all along which is why give the haters any oxygen if it is something that we can legislate on. But look, we are where we are and we have to do everything we can to make sure that no one in our community is vilified throughout the course of the survey, which kicks off as early as next week.


PARKER: OK, that's when people will be start to get the ballots in their boxes. You'll be encouraging people to vote yes?


HAMMOND: Yes, look, I am. I am a strong believer in marriage equality. There are some personal reasons for that but also I think it's just fundamentally the right thing to do in terms of making sure that every family is as valued as each other's family and I think a great way to do that is by making marriage equality a reality.


My concern about this is if you have a look at any of the community surveys what you find they indicate is almost 70 per cent of Australians just want to get this thing over and done with. But with a survey like this the real risk is that people won’t get their votes back.


We know that there are about 16 million electors across the country and what I would urge everyone to do is just take part in this democratic process. We are where we are but whatever you do, don't lose your chance to have a vote. That's the thing that I am worried about.


PARKER: I think that is a legitimate worry and I've made similar noises on the program in the past for supporters of same sex marriage the turnout is low. Do you think that the Labor party's opposition to the postal plebiscite process might have actually diminished the chances that Labor gets the outcome it wants, which is the yes vote?


HAMMOND: I don't think it will, for two reasons. Firstly; I’d like to think we've made our position pretty that we think this is the wrong way to go but we are where we are and we've just now got to be pragmatic about getting on with it and showing as much bipartisanship as we can throughout our community about our desire to want to see a yes vote win.


But I also think the other part of that is, Gareth, is we've made our backup position clear too and that is if Labor is elected at the next Federal Election we'll simply legislate to make marriage equality a reality within the first 100 days.


PARKER: Even if the postal plebiscite fails? Because that would be quite a poke in the eye to the democratic process.


HAMMOND: I don't think it is a poke in the eye to the democratic process. The democratic process sees us as Federal representatives get elected to this thing called Parliament and I think we are elected here to actually play our role in the democratic process which is to amend and voting in legislation - that's what I think we should be doing in the first place. 


PARKER: Alright, that's sort of in the realms of hypothetical. We'll see how it goes. With your Consumer Protection hat on you want to put the spotlight on the issue of these airbags that have been issued for recall right around the country.


HAMMOND: Yes, thanks for that. There is a sleeper issue here at the moment really needs to be put front and centre and that is the risk to drivers on the roads at the moment, driving without them possibly knowing, with faulty or potentially faulty airbags in their cars. They are called Takata airbags and they primarily affect cars that have been on the road for probably to last five to 10 years.


What we know is there are probably in the range of 50,000 cars still on the road with these airbags that we know are faulty.


There is a category of those airbags called Alpha which have a huge failure rate; possibly even one in two Alpha Takata airbags can be faulty. If these things go off, they are known to go off in a way that causes a huge amount of damage to the people who are driving the cars, they go off when they are not supposed to and they go off in a way that creates injury which can obviously create a fatality. We've already had at least one fatality. 


What I would just urge everyone to do is jump the Choice website and double check that you don't have one of these faulty airbags. The most important thing we could do, and I’ll finish up with this Gareth, the most important thing we could do as a responsible Government is to make a mandatory recall and just simply get these cars off the road.


Now, I’m a bit disappointed that the Minister for consumer affairs hasn't done that, he has got the power to do it; we know they're dangerous and we just need to get these cars off the road. 


PARKER: In the absence of that people should jump on the website and see if their car is affected. Tim Hammond thanks for your time.


HAMMOND: Great to be with you Gareth.