Marty Corboy will be under no illusions about the pressure of being a federal MP after he was forced to answer a barrage of questions on issues which, at times, made him uncomfortable.
The Nationals candidate was grilled by progressive voters on issues such as marriage equality, abortion and homeschooling at The Border Mail and ABC’s election forum at Wangaratta.
He said he “would accept the result” if a plebiscite was returned in favour of same-sex marriage, but wanted to make sure others did not have to accept repercussions.
“I would like to see religious organisations protected and also some businesses,” Mr Corboy said.
“There are many instances in America where small business who have had an issue with this have been taken to court.”
Moderator Jon Faine pressed the candidate about whether he meant businesses should be given an exemption to refuse to hire gay and lesbian people.
“No, I think that’s a bit extreme,” Mr Corboy said.
In contrast, the crowd gave independent Cathy McGowan a thunderous round of applause when she declared she would “stand there proudly and vote strongly for same-sex marriage”. Mr Corboy also expressed reservations about the Safe Schools program, following a question from a Wangaratta High School student.
“I do have issues about the program, anything that forces children to roleplay something that might not be natural to them,” he said.
“Some of the things in the safe schools program wouldn’t be put up in a workplace tea room.”
The Nationals man was not as happy to answer questions on his stance against abortion in all cases, especially when Mr Faine asked if he was still against the practice in cases of rape.
“I respect life from the moment of conception to natural birth,” he said.
“This is a very, very, very personal issue for me and my family and I’ll leave it at that.”
Mr Corboy also defended his religious views – saying he believed in “intelligent design”, but was not there to know the details – and his family’s decision to homeschool their six children.
“There are many choices that parents make when it comes to educating their children,” he said.
“Whatever it may be, I truly believe that parents should have a fair choice on the day-to-day runnings of their family … and good, strong, continuous education.”
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