Senior government Minister Bill Shorten has been ''heavily influenced'' by the views of high-profile gay marriage advocate and retired High Court judge Michael Kirby in forming his position on the upcoming same-sex marriage vote.
The Workplace Relation Minister said that although he had no definite opinion on the matter, he predicted in 20 years' time people would look back and wonder what all the current fuss and debate was about.
He said he could understand the arguments of religious people who say gay marriage is not consistent with their religious values.
''But I also have to say I'm heavily influenced by Michael Kirby and what he has had to say,'' Mr Shorten told ABC TV.
''If we accept being gay is not antisocial, which it's clearly not, then how can you only have some rights in the society? And he's also said, which I find influential and persuasive, if a gay couple is married, how does that affect someone else's marriage?''
Mr Shorten backed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's push for a conscience vote on the issue and criticised Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for not allowing his MPs a free vote on the issue.
Mr Shorten also reiterated his disagreement with BHP Billiton chairman Jac Nasser's view that ''restrictive labour regulations'' were becoming one of the most problematic factors for doing business in Australia.
''In terms of deregulation I don't accept his basic view of the world which says that if we can just externalise all our labour relations issues into changing one law we'd have some sort of nirvana of economic performance. That's just not right. These issues have to be solved at the workplace.''
Maverick federal MP Bob Katter has told an audience with former prime minister Kevin Rudd he will regret homophobic advertisements aired by his party ''for the rest of my days''.
Mr Katter's Australia Party's ads, featuring a pixilated black and white image of an older gay man with a young lover, went to air during the Queensland election campaign in March. Mr Katter admitted the ads were a political mistake but later angrily refused to answer questions on gay marriage.
Sharing a stage with his fellow Queenslander at the Sydney Writers Festival, Mr Rudd denounced the ads.
''The campaign about sexuality wasn't exactly about same-sex marriage. It was a fair bit rougher than that,'' he said.
Mr Katter said the ads were a ''simple example of insensitivity'' and a ''crowning glory of all mistakes''.
''This was a political mistake of major proportions,'' he said.
But Mr Katter became testy when a woman in the audience asked about gay marriage. ''Lady, I love your question,'' he said. ''I'm really not going to take any more questions on it because I'm very short-tempered.'' Mr Katter said that in nearly four decades as a state and federal MP, only one constituent had raised the issue of gay marriage, compared with ''maybe 10,000'' who were concerned about diseased flying foxes.
''You are preoccupied with some little thing that comes in from America,'' he said, provoking loud boos from the audience.
Earlier, Mr Rudd reminded Mr Katter of his pledge to walk backwards from north Queensland to Bourke or Brisbane if there were homosexuals in his electorate.
''You're in Sydney now,'' he said, sparking laughter.with AAP