NATS CHAT: State chairman Dom Hopkinson (Wagga), delegate Richard Maher (Henty) and federal president Ruby Cameron (Canberra) at the Young Nationals conference. NSW Young Nationals have given approvalto gay marriage, breaking new ground for conservative parties in Australia.
The endorsement came at the annual conference of the NSW Young Nationals which was held at Corowa Golf Club at the weekend.
The Young Nationals state director Nathan Quigley said the motion supporting gay wedlock, initiated by a Gundagai member, drew differing opinions.
“There was a spirited debate from the both sides and it was narrowly won,” Mr Quigley said.
He declined to revealthe exact margin of the vote, but said the outcome was groundbreaking.
“The Young Nationals are the first conservative youth wing to back marriage equality,” Mr Quigley said.
The support for gay nuptialsis at odds with many Nationals MPs who back the traditional definition of marriage.
Federal Nationals leader Warren Truss has said he is of “the view that marriage is an institution that by definition should be reserved for a man and a woman”.
Nationals member for Riverina Michael McCormack also adheres to that opinion.
“Same-sex marriage will never be off the radar but I do not support it and I would vote against it,” he said in 2014.
Despite the Nationals being seen as largely against gay marriage,Mr Quigley said the community should not be surprised the matter has won support among under-35s in the party.
“The Young Nationals have always had a reputation for pushing the boundaries in terms of policy with the senior party,” Mr Quigley said.
“It will attract attention, but to those who know the Young Nationals it won’t be a surprise.”
About 60 members attended the two-day conference which featured a dinner on Saturday night with addresses from NSW Nationals leader Troy Grant and former federal Nationals leader Tim Fischer.
Other motions backed mental health first aid for primary and secondary school teachers, a move to regional governments and opposition to the Shenhua coal mine in northern NSW.
Mr Quigley said although Corowa was no longer a Nationals seat at state or federal level the party was keen to stage the 50thanniversary Young Nationals conference in the town.
“The local National Party branch contacted me about it and sold the place really well and the other thing is without representation at state and federal level down here, National Party events have been a little light on the ground,” Mr Quigley said.
“We’ve still got a strong membership down here and there was huge interest from them in hosting the conference, especially at this stage of the political cycle when it is as much about policy as election campaigns.”
Among the delegates was Henty’s Richard Maher who highlighted the need for more funding for the university sector.
He said there was a lack of thoughtful consideration and meaningful debate on the issue and in particular the plight of battlers wanting to study at university.
Mr Maher representspost-graduate studentsonCharles Sturt University’s academic board.
Originally published asWe do, say Young Nats by The Border Mail.