Janet Rice’s knitted marriage equality scarf
In March 2017 during the height of the marriage equality debate, then Liberal-National Coalition Government minister Peter Dutton criticised Australian companies who were advocating for change, telling them to stay out of the debate and “stick to their knitting”. At the time the Government was hoping to hold a plebiscite on the issue, but faced substantial criticism for their approach from the opposition, business leaders, and the LGBTIQ+ community, who advocated for the issue to be decided by a parliamentary vote.
In Parliament Greens’ Senator Rice questioned the Governments persistence with it’s failed plebiscite plan, Attorney General Senator George Brandis responded blaming Labor and The Greens for blocking the government’s plan. Senator Rice asked Senator Brandis if he agreed with Peter Dutton’s comments suggesting CEO’s should “stick to their knitting”, Senator Brandis repeated his viewpoint. In response Senator Rice pulled out needles, several balls of wool and began to knit a ‘rainbow scarf’. The Government eventually opted for a non-binding national postal survey, which which showed overwhelming support for marriage equality.
Senator Rice never fished knitting her scarf, which was donated to the Archives along with ephemera, speech notes, and a copy of the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill, circulated amendments, and articles.