UK
02/06/2015 15:53 BST | Updated 02/06/2015 16:59 BST

Gay Marriage Referendum Won't Work In Australia Because 'The Irish Can't Grow Potatoes'

An Australian political commentator on Monday urged his countrymen not to follow Ireland’s lead and legalise gay marriage because the Irish are "people who can’t grow potatoes."

Speaking on Sky News Australia, Grahame Morris, the former chief of staff for Prime Minister John Howard, reacted to a proposal by the Labour Party’s Bill Shorten to overturn the national ban on gay marriage by noting the Irish's supposed horticultural shortcomings -- a reference to the potato famine of the 1840s.

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Morris: 'Gay marriage isn’t a life and death decision'

Morris also noted how Ireland boasts a "mutant lawn weed” as its national symbol, while the people struggle to "verbalise" the number "three."

He said: "Now I love the Irish, the parliament is full of Irish men but these are people who can’t grow potatoes, they’ve got a mutant lawn weed as their national symbol and they can’t verbalise the difference between tree and the number three. But, and then all of a sudden, Australia has to follow suit."

Morris added that Australians were not ready for a referendum on gay marriage as it would be too divisive. He said: “You run around Queensland, the Bush, and most of Western Australia and you can see people aren’t ready. This vote is going to be divisive and I don’t think most of the parties in parliament are ready to change. It isn’t a life and death decision."

The gay marriage debate starts around 7.40:

Last week, American politician Gordon Klingenschmitt likened Ireland’s pro-gay marriage voters to “snakes”, whilst calling for St. Patrick to return and drive the "demonic spirits" out of the country.

He said: "Jesus Christ defined marriage between one man and one woman and maybe it's time for another St. Patrick to go back into Ireland and preach the good news that Jesus can make you free from sin and drive out the snakes once again."

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A couple celebrate in Dublin Castle Square as the result of the referendum is relayed on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland

Despite opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, Ireland overwhelmingly voted to approve same-sex marriage earlier this month, becoming the first country to do so by popular vote. Ballots showed 62 percent of citizens were in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, and 38 percent were opposed. The vote boasted a turnout of around 60 percent.

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