Ministers opposing same sex marriage are warning Australia’s cattle trade would take an economic hit if a new bill was passed.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and Leader of Government in the Senate Eric Abetz warn nearby Asian trading partners will shun Australia on cultural grounds, threatening cattle exports.
Reacting to Senator Abetz, a staunch opposer of same-sex marriage, Mr Joyce told ABC news last week that South East Asian countries would see Australia as “decadent”.
Australia trades with Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, China and Japan and these are culturally different to Europe, he told ABC news.
He pointed to the repeated phrase that for Australia this is “the Asian century”.
Speaking to ABC, he said: "Eric is right in saying where we live economically is South East Asia, that's where our cattle go.
"When we go there, there are judgments whether you like it or not that are made about us. They see us as decadent."
But openly gay Senator, Penny Wong, hit back yesterday, claiming Mr Abetz and Joyce were being "illogical and offensive".
She said the "Asia Century" standpoint and subsequent points about polyamory and polygamy are from "people in search of an argument".
"I find it sad that senior politicians in this country seem to want to tell my children and children of other same-sex couples that somehow they are not normal," she told ABC.
Politicians have been debating same-sex marriage, with a Private Member’s Bill taking cross party sponsorship and column inches in Australia.
Mr Joyce played down the likelihood of the bill reaching voting stage, reiterating on ABC news his opposition to same sex marriage.
He said Private Member’s Bills “come up all the time”.
Under the Marriage Act of 1961, amended in 2004, Australia is split between acknowledging civil or domestic partnerships in the east and ‘de facto’ definitions in the west.
Polling has consistently showed that over 60 per cent of Australians support marriage equality, according to the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.
This year, record live cattle exports to South East Asia have been recorded in the period from January to April, with 51 per cent of around 435,000 head going to Indonesia.
Beef shipments to China were up 129 per cent last year on the five year average, according to market analysts at Meat and Livestock Australia.