Wilson won’t walk on same-sex vote

Tim Wilson as Human Rights Commissioner. Source: Facebook.
Tim Wilson has a liberal-minded vision for Goldstein despite following the Liberal Party's conservative rules, writes Alex McGilvray.

Tim Wilson says the people of Goldstein need his particular liberal-minded vision, but if elected as the local federal member, he is also prepared to observe the conservative Liberal Party’s rules.

The candidate for the safe Melbourne seat told UniPollWatch that he won’t cross the floor against the Liberal Party on same sex marriage, even though he has campaigned against a plebicite on the issue.

Wilson won the tense Liberal pre-selection campaign for Goldstein against local Denis Dragovic by two votes in the final round, he attributes his success to sharing the views and values of the people in the electorate.

“I think what set me apart was that I projected a forward-looking liberalism which is connected with the community,” he says.

Wilson, the former Human Rights Commissioner, says that the people of Goldstein deserve someone who will fight for them. “This is not a time to be timid.”

In addition to his advocacy for the free market, Wilson’s primary concerns in the lead up to the election include the budget, youth unemployment and tax. “We need to bring the tax system into the 21st century,” he says.

Wilson is a strong promoter of free speech and points to his opinion pieces on both his website and the Institute of Public Affairs’ (IPA) website.

In recent years, Wilson has been a vocal supporter of a proposed repeal of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. When the Abbott government abandoned the changes, Wilson was disappointed.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane says that the repeal of 18C would allow a small minority of Australians to justify their bigoted attitudes and harassment with free speech as a defence.

Wilson disagrees. “The only way you can have a free and open society is if people are able to express themselves,” he says.

Regarding free speech in public media and its potential to harm young LGBTI people, Wilson says people need to be resilient to a diversity of opinion so that they can engage in constructive debate.

“People should be free to contest and debate difficult issues, even if they don’t like what other people say.”

“I spent most of my teenage years in a state of internal conflict,” says Wilson.

“Coming out as same-sex attracted is never a happy experience,” he told UniPollWatch.

He is a vocal supporter of the controversial Safe Schools Coalition. In his message of support for the education program, he says that schools should be places filled with positive messages and support for young LGBTI people.

Of his own experience, he says that he spent much of his adolescence being held back by his fears.

“I came out because of a realisation and desperation that I had to live my life,” he says.

Wilson has been engaged to his partner Ryan for six years and is an advocate for same-sex marriage.

The Liberal party policy on this issue supports a plebiscite, which is projected to cost $525 million.

As a member of the party, Wilson must face the conflict of personal opinion and supporting Liberal party policy. Having spoken against a plebiscite in recent years, Wilson says that his preferred way forward is to have a free vote in parliament but he won’t cross the floor on the issue.

“If for some reason [the government didn’t get up on a plebiscite], I would vote in favour for change which is consistent with what I understand the electorate to support as well as my own personal views,” he says.

Same-sex marriage advocate and friend, Christine Forster, says Wilson is a man of unflinching conviction.

Forster believes he will be a refreshing voice in the Liberal party room throughout the debate of this issue.

“Plainly Wilson is up for the fight,” Forster says, regarding what she refers to as the deeply divisive national plebiscite.