Senator Cory Bernardi plans to phone a million people urging them to vote ‘No’ to gay marriage, claiming it’s not ‘invasive’ like the ‘Yes’ campaign’s text messages.
The senator’s Australian Conservatives party will spend about $50,000 calling home phones with a pre-recorded message arguing the issue is about ‘parent rights’.
But despite the ‘Yes’ campaign’s text messages causing widespread outrage, he claimed his effort was acceptable because it was a ‘poll’.
Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives party will shell out $50,000 on calling 1 million home phones with a recorded message telling them to vote no in the gay marriage postal vote
‘Hello, it’s Senator Cory Bernardi calling from the Australian Conservatives, and I’d like to ask you something very important – so please, stay on the line for just a moment,’ the call begins.
‘As a parent I am deeply concerned about how changing the marriage act will affect families and children. Ultimately this is a question about parents’ rights.
‘Changing the marriage act will limit the right of parents to object to radical gay sex education and gender ideology programs from being taught in schools.’
On the call, Senator Bernardi claimed book teaching children about sexuality would become ‘commonplace’ in schools,
He said it would lead to more programs like Safe Schools that taught kids their gender was fluid and not based on biology.
‘Removing gender from marriage means removing it from all areas of our society, including our schools,’ he said.
His plan is despite the ‘Yes’ campaign’s text messages (pictured) causing widespread outrage
Senator Bernardi defended the five cent calls because they included a poll at the end where listeners press 1 if they plan to vote no, 2 for yes, and 3 for unsure.
‘Taking the poll of an electorate or doing some market research is a time-honoured political technique and that’s exactly what we’re doing,’ he told Sky News.
He said the 1 million households he would call were in his home state of South Australia and some in Victoria where his party has other MPs.
‘So this is just polling an electorate, it’s the stock in trade of any political business, and it’s not invasive like sending text messages to unlisted numbers or to 12-year-olds telling them how to vote,’ he said.
‘Most home phones have listed phone numbers and you can get into the White Pages, but for some reason people feel that their mobiles are more personal space.
‘To have randomly generated numbers and have people targeting or telling you what to do, that seems to have upset a great many people.’
Senator Bernardi defended the five cent calls because they included a poll at the end where listeners press 1 if they plan to vote no, 2 for yes, and 3 for unsure
Senator Bernardi claimed the calls were necessary because changing the marriage act wouldn’t just change the definition of a married couple
‘To have randomly generated numbers and have people targeting or telling you what to do, that seems to have upset a great many people,’ Senator Bernardi said
However, pollsters said it was not a reliable way to poll a group of people as it included ‘two minutes him talking about why listeners should vote ‘no’.’
‘I’ve heard worse but it’s not a balanced piece of polling. Therefore any results that flow from it are questionable,’ Ipsos pollster Jessica Elgood told Fairfax.
Senator Bernardi claimed the calls were necessary because changing the marriage act wouldn’t just change the definition of a married couple.
‘It will flow on into other areas of legislation, and the lived example internationally is that we’ve seen parents’ rights being taken away when it comes to sex education in some schools,’ he said.
‘Children were being taught about homosexual sex, they were taught to imagine themselves in homosexual relationships, they were taught that their gender is not binary, it’s somehow fluid.’
Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Ros McLennan said volunteers were making the calls and the costs were being covered by the Australian Marriage Equality campaign
Senator Bernardi’s campaign followed the ‘Yes’ campaign’s plan to also call thousands of voters to convince them to support gay marriage.
Unlike his robo-call effort, calls would be placed by union volunteers and paid for by the Australian Marriage Equality campaign.
The campaign earlier sent a bulk text message to about 31 million random mobile phones in Australia, with an estimated cost of about $4.65 million.
They read: ‘The Marriage Equality Survey forms have arrived! Help make history and vote YES for a fairer Australia,’ followed by a link to its website.