FOUR days out from the federal election, Liberal Party candidate John Fitzgibbon can’t say where he stands on same-sex marriage.
“I still don’t know,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
At the Commerce Ballarat Election Forum breakfast yesterday morning, Mr Fitzgibbon and five other candidates were once again asked by the audience about same-sex marriage.
Mr Fitzgibbon said he did not like the narrow debate to a point where, if you’re against same-sex marriage, you’re considered homophobic.
“I’m still searching ... I’ve been up front this entire campaign, but this is a decision I need to come to,” he said.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has stated if Labor won the election, there would be a conscience vote on same-sex marriage within 100 days of the election on September 7.
The Australian Greens support marriage equality, with changing the current legislation one of their major policies.
Greens candidate Stephanie Hodgins-May said she was disappointed Mr Fitzgibbon did not know where he stood on the issue.
“Will he use this response with other issues, that he doesn’t know?
“I find it disappointing that you don’t know – you haven’t decided.”
Mr Fitzgibbon asked the audience if there were any others who didn’t know, when Ms Hodgins-May interjected. “But they’re not running for parliament,” she said.
Ms Hodgins-May said 68 per cent of Australians were in favour of marriage equality, according to a Galaxy Poll.
“Sixty-eight per cent believe we need to remove this label of discrimination,” she said.
ALP candidate and current Ballarat MP Catherine King said she understood Mr Fitzgibbon didn’t know.
“I was in that position ... but I actually had to make a decision,” Ms King said.
“There were several bills before parliament and what happens when you’re a member of parliament is that you have to work through these issues and actually make a decision.
“When it did come before parliament I had to think really long and hard about it, particularly being a Catholic and what it meant.”
Ms King voted in favour of same-sex marriage last year, and said she would vote again to support it if it came before parliament.
Palmer United Party candidate for Ballarat Gerard Murphy said he supported gay marriage.
“If before parliament, the Palmer United Party will have a conscience vote and I will vote in favour of it,” he said.
Katter’s Australia Party candidate Shane Dunne said for him and the party, marriage was about a family and the child’s best interest.
He said he would vote against same sex marriage.
DLP candidate Stephen Vereker said marriage between a man and woman needed to be protected.