Australia To Hold Postal Vote To Decide On Same-Sex Marriage Law

Aaron Brown
August 9, 2017

"So I implore them to do it. Vote in parliament".

Alex Greenwich, co-chair of Australian Marriage Equality, said on Tuesday the group was "not ruling anything in or out".

Same-sex marriage is legal in a number of countries across the world, including Belgium, Canada, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and others.

The announcement came days after a poll showed that the issue of same-sex marriage was wearing thin on voters, who overwhelmingly said they wanted the issue dealt with before the end of the year.

It would be conducted through the Australian Bureau of Statistics, finance minister Mathias Cormann said, assisted by officers from the Electoral Commission.

Queensland Liberal MP Warren Entsch, who is among Liberal MPs pushing for a free vote, says he reserves his right to take his own course of action on same-sex marriage but is happy to give a plebiscite another go. The opposition of the gay community was a decisive consideration in Labor's voting against the plebiscite legislation when it was in parliament initially.

Photo Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in Canberra on Tuesday, said that holding a postal vote if the Senate rejected an in-person one would give people the opportunity to "have their say". That would easily cover the $122 million cost of the postal vote, but the government would have to prove an "urgent" need for the expenditure.

A postal vote would see ballot papers in mailboxes from September 12 and a result declared on November 15.

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The Senate will likely vote down plebiscite 2.0, as all those opposed to it last time (Labor, the Greens, the three Nick Xenophon Team senators and Derryn Hinch) have promised to knock it back once more.

The popular TV personality set his usual early-morning larrikinism aside for a very serious spiel revealing exactly how he feels about the government's decision to push through with a postal plebiscite.

Both options have been widely-condemned by same-sex marriage advocates, who say a vote is unnecessary and expensive, while a polarizing campaign would be traumatic for Australia's LGBT community.

"To be clear, it is impossible to determine whether a parliamentarian should adhere to their electorate, their state or to the national vote and in those circumstances, all parliamentarians should be given a degree of leeway to adhere to how they can best represent those who elected them", Senator Abetz said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten labelled the outcome ridiculous, saying he was disappointed for the hundreds of thousands of Australians the prime minister had let down again.

Despite strong support for gay marriage, the country is seen by some as lagging behind nations that allow homosexual couples the right to Wednesday.

The question will be: "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to be married?"

On Monday, Turnbull reportedly cautioned cabinet colleagues over the encouragement of some backbenchers to launch a bill that would have pushed for a free vote on gay marriage.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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