Lucy Wicks speaks with Scott Levi about Same Sex Marriage, ATO and Kibbleplex on 92.5FM (Transcript)
Tuesday 18 August, ABC Central Coast 92.5FM
Breakfast with Scott Levi: Interviewing Lucy Wicks MP, Federal Member for Robertson
Topics: Same Sex Marriage, Commonwealth Agency, Kibbleplex
SCOTT: Was it a fiery party room discussion or, surely it was a known result that the party room wouldn’t be in favour of same sex marriage?
LUCY: I don’t think anybody could have predicted the outcome of the party room meeting that Tuesday Scott, it was a very passionate debate – it went for six hours, but as to fiery, I would say respectful. There were 90 speakers …
SCOTT: Did you have a say?
LUCY: I had a say, I was one of the first to have a say, I put my position that marriage is between a man and a woman and I believe that we need to continue to hold that position, particularly as we took it to the people of Australia at the last election. I’ve also been personally very supportive of the concept of a people’s vote. I don’t think this a job for the politicians. The last several months I’ve been advocating among my colleagues the idea of a plebiscite or a referendum – the concept being that this change is such a massively significant change for the people of Australia that we actually all ought to have a say in the outcome of this particular very important topic.
SCOTT: It’s interesting, George Brandis has said that you don’t need a plebiscite or a referendum – the Government of the day has the power to change this – it’s not like changing Constitutional things as we have to do for recognition of Indigenous people – he’s saying no the Government can fix it without all of that expense of a referendum.
LUCY: One of the challenges we’ve got with an issue like this, it is very sensitive, with deeply held views in relation to this on all sides I think, Scott. As a representative of my electorate I can take my views down to Canberra but I can’t represent the views of everybody here in this electorate. By nature of it, if I support one side I obviously don’t support the other.
SCOTT: That’s quite different to Karen McNamara’s idea – she wants to hear from her electorate – rather than making her personal view known, which you have – and I haven’t been able to draw her on where she sits on this really. You went to the election with this on your platform. You weren’t hiding the fact that the Marriage Act should stay the same in legislation. When it comes to the people deciding, surely they can decide at the election, if one party has a platform that says yes to gay marriage the other says no, if it is that much of an electoral issue. Is it an issue in your day to day?
LUCY: I have been consulting with my electorate for probably some 12-18 months now, I’ve had conversations with thousands of people, I’ve heard from so many people from all sides of this debate. And yes I do have a strong personal view, and that view is from the understanding of looking at my own two children, and having an understanding that marriage is about love but it’s also about family and an institution that involves children as well. It’s having a very important conversation not just with the electorate but with Australia, in a way that allows all of us to make a decision. It doesn’t have to just be a politician’s choice – this is such an important change – this is an issue so deeply felt by so many people in our community – it ought to be a vote by the people.
SCOTT: You’ve sort of missed the boat with that one – we have men and men – women and women – who have children … even in the Parliament.
LUCY: I accept that absolutely – what we’re looking at is an institution that has been seen to provide a social framework. I accept that families come in many different ways now, all shapes and sizes if you like, in our society – but this is a change in the definition of an institution of what we have seen around for centuries. If we allow the people of the Central Coast and Australia to have their say, I think we get the best outcome for all Australians.
SCOTT: Why not a referendum, or question, at the next poll? That surely is the best way to get this sorted out.
LUCY: Because we took very clearly to the people of Australia that we believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and the outcome of the party room discussions – and I have to say I’ve never felt so proud to be a representative of the Central Coast and down in Canberra as I was that day because it was respectful, the debate was well thought through, it was deeply serious, people took into account positions in their electorate, they took into account personal stories, they took into account their own beliefs and they took into account beliefs of other people. It was an absolute honour to be there Scott. At the end of the day the party room came to an agreement that this was a position we took to the last election and we would honour that position for this term of parliament. That is why it is appropriate to look at a plebiscite or a referendum – some sort of people’s vote in the next term of parliament.
SCOTT: As Malcolm Turnbull said, Labor will make hay out of this – it gives them a real leverage point.
LUCY: Now there’s a clear choice – if people want it to be the politician’s choice they have that option under Labor …
SCOTT: That’s what would happen if it was a big election issue…
LUCY: There are so many issues in the community people talk to me about – same sex marriage is one of them – but people also talk to me about – and this is a really important matter – getting more local jobs here to the Central Coast, and that’s something I hear every day. So I’m pleased to say that next month – we’ll hear the location of the ATO here in Gosford. This is probably the biggest issue. We have 30,000 people on the train or going down the freeway for a 4-5 hour round trip every day, because that’s where the jobs are, they live here…
SCOTT: When Joe Hockey says ‘have a go’, is that a bit offensive to those people – they are having a go – they are probably working harder than Joe – though I know politicians work very hard. Was that the right thing to say? When you see these people leaving at 4 and coming home 8 at night they are having a go.
LUCY: My husband is one of those people, who travels early in the morning and comes home late at home to our family. 30,000 people do exactly that…
SCOTT: They’re working as hard as they can though aren’t they…
LUCY: That’s why I’m fighting every single day – and this is my number one passion, Scott – getting more local jobs here on the Central Coast – it’s why I so strongly backed a Commonwealth Centre of Excellence and fought so hard for this as a candidate.
SCOTT: This is the tax office – that is holding everything up isn’t it – we really need to know is it frustrating to you that with probity and things you have to do to stand at arm’s length until the process is done that you can’t really get on with it. We don’t know if it’s the school site, greenfield site, existing site, it’s all still up in the air after a long time.
LUCY: My husband often jokes and he calls me the “microwave girl” – he says “you just want everything done instantly”. There is a sense of expectancy, we’ve got this, we know it’s happening. The plans are underway, we’ve had the EOI process and we all do want to see this happen as quickly as possible. I’m pleased that it’s on track, I’m pleased that by the end of September we will know exactly where the ATO will be located in Gosford and I’m so pleased that this means 600 new jobs into our community.
SCOTT: Just across here at the Kibbleplex – we’ve got 14 million dollars’ worth of Federal funding – 7 million that was given when Belinda Neal was Member for Robertson for car parking. There’s 7 million promised from you – you’re saying it’ll be available – and the Council wants to sell that space. We still need a public component. Whether it’s a library, innovation hub, we need something for the people out of that – are Council delivering with the Federal money they’ve been given so far?
LUCY: In terms of the 7 million we’ve had that in the last two budgets available. I know the Department has indicated they are waiting to receive a proposal from Gosford City Council to see this particular concept that does deliver what you described …
SCOTT: Now they want to sell it off … What should they do with it? If they can get 11 million say for it, plus your 7 million … What should happen?
LUCY: The decision in relation to that particular building is a matter for Council…
SCOTT: But you should have a good say because you have 7 million dollars invested in it …
LUCY: That’s why we’re waiting to see what the Council comes up with as perhaps an alternative site in Gosford for the concept of the Kibbleplex centre. Can I say though I’m so pleased to see a Council that is a ‘can-do’ Council. We are seeing so much change here – Lawrie McKinna is a great supporter of seeing Gosford City thrive, and I know the CEO Paul Anderson is absolutely passionate about seeing this city thrive, and I know every staff member and councillor is determined to see Gosford City thrive. We’ve seen great decisions come out of Council I think the important thing is to see Gosford City is we all want to see Gosford City’s heartbeat really thriving, and that’s why I love the concept of the ATO with 600 people. And Scott you know my crazy coffee shop economics – what does this mean for the community – well that’s 600 people buying another coffee, or if they are anything like me they’ll buy two … buying a newspaper, or getting their dry cleaning done or a bit of shopping at the Imperial Centre. This will actually transform our community and like you I can’t wait to see it happen.
SCOTT: I notice that the ATO has said in their last couple of releases – they want to see the 600 jobs but it’s holding things up … they are saying October in the latest email. What are they talking about there?
LUCY: We have a clarification that it will be sometime in September. The important thing about this is actually getting it right. I’m pleased to say that in terms of the process, the absolute firm commitment is that by the end of 2017 jobs will be flying into this city – we are going to see 600 people in a Commonwealth Centre of Excellence in the heart of Gosford.
SCOTT: Well it’ll be great when it happens – thanks so much for joining us on the program.
LUCY: Thanks Scott for the opportunity.
Lucy Wicks MP
Federal Member for Robertson
Level 3, 69 Central Coast Highway, West Gosford NSW 2250
(02) 4322 2400 | Parliament: (02) 6277 4738