Tony Abbott attacks gay marriage survey

Tony Abbott -
Tony Abbott - "I do not want to surrender a concept of marriage". Picture: SkyNews

FORMER Prime Minister Tony Abbott has taken a swipe at the government over its handling of the same-sex marriage postal survey.

It was a "fundamental mistake" to ask the opinion of the Australian public without first drafting legislation that provided detail on the proposed change, he said.

In an appearance on Sky News, Mr Abbott again affirmed his staunch opposition to allowing couples of the same sex to wed and said there was "a much wider agenda" being pushed.

He also slammed the backlash on Tuesday sparked by comments made by former Woolworths boss Roger Corbert, who drew on slavery and race to explain his opposition to gay marriage.

"All of us should be very, very worried and that enough should be reason enough to vote no," Mr Abbott said of the criticism the 'No' campaign has faced.

Changing the Marriage Act was an issue forced onto the agenda by "a bunch of activists", he said.

"Like everyone, I know lots of gay people. I have gay friends, I have gay family. I respect them, I love them. But I do not want to surrender a concept of marriage … being between a man and a woman."

Sister of Tony Abbott, Christine Forster and Partner Virginia Edwards. (AAP IMAGE/Julia Carlisle)
Sister of Tony Abbott, Christine Forster and Partner Virginia Edwards. (AAP IMAGE/Julia Carlisle)

Mr Abbott's sister Christine Forster, a City of Sydney Councillor, is a lesbian and staunch support of the 'yes' campaign.

The two have been at loggerheads in recent weeks over what she describes as "red herrings" put forward by her brother to distract from the issue.

On Sky News on Tuesday, Mr Abbott doubled down on his claims that allowing same-sex marriage would have broader community consequences.

"There's a much wider agenda here that people are pushing," he said.

"You cannot make a change of this magnitude, you cannot redefine something as fundamental as the family, and think there are no flow-on consequences.

"We need to think long and hard about this. Just because some activists want it is no reason to say yes."

The intervention of former PM John Howard was "significant," he said, and he agreed that not clarifying religious protections and freedom of speech before the mail survey was a mistake.

Frances Abbot supports the YES case. Source: Instagram
Frances Abbot supports the YES case. Source: Instagram

"I would've put legislation to the people," Mr Abbott said. "Not any old bill - the specific bill."

It was a concern that no proposed legislation had been made public, however Liberal Senator Dean Smith has in fact drafted a bill that many in the Coalition accept would form the basis of legislation should the 'yes' vote win.

It includes a broad range of religious protections, Australian Marriage Equality co-convener Alex Greenwich pointed out.

"Nothing in the proposed legislation would in any way impact the religious celebration of marriage or the ways churches wish to practice it," Mr Greenwich said.

"There are clear, strong and robust religious protections in the draft legislation.

"What so many Australians support is everyone being able to marry the person they love in the country they love."

Topics:  plebiscite same sex marriage tony abbott

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