Former Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson AO spoke to the ABC’s Chris Uhlmann last week about the importance of a robust, public discussion on any changes to the Marriage Act, and why it is critical that the voice of the people is heard.

He told Uhlmann that both sides of the debate agree that there will be far-reaching consequences with any change in the law.

“The reality is you’ve got a substantial group of Australians at both ends of the spectrum, strongly in support, strongly against, the redefinition of marriage.  They do agree on one thing which I would say the middle needs to recognise and that is that these changes are actually very profound

“It’s a bit glib to say, as some do, all that will happen is that 23,000 Australians, that’s the rough estimate made, will have a new-found freedom, that it won’t affect anyone else.  In fact, people at both ends of the spectrum, if you listen carefully to what they’re saying, are saying that profound changes are much further reaching than you might realise.”

Anderson challenged the frequently-heard cries of “homophobia” as being too dismissive of the voice of ordinary Australians:

“[I]t’s just not good enough to cheaply say they’re homophobic or they’re old-fashioned or the other one, they’re ethnic – because many of them are – or they come from the regions and they’re old-fashioned and therefore they shouldn’t be heard of; they’re out of step for holding traditional views.”

He called the silencing of ordinary Australians by elites “damaging,” and warned Australians from going down the path of overruling the will of the people simply because you do not want to hear what they have to say.

“You do not get good public policy out of a bad debate or a truncated debate or a silenced debate or a debate where many people feel intimidated about putting their views.”