Despite reprimanding CEOs for publically supporting marriage equality just last week, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is apparently working behind the scenes to legalise same-sex marriage during this term of parliament.
A staunch conservative, Dutton reportedly told colleagues that unless they dealt with it before the next election it would remain an ongoing distraction.
Personally opposed to same-sex marriage, Dutton allegedly said privately that same-sex marriage would inevitably become law in Australia, so it would be better for the Liberal party to control the process to ensure maximum protections for religious freedom in subsequent legislation, reports Fairfax.
Dutton is reported to be pushing for a postal vote plebiscite with Mathias Cormann, another cabinet minister opposed to same-sex marriage.
The postal vote would be voluntary, not require legislation and be cheaper than the previously proposed plebiscite that was blocked in the Senate last year.
Malcolm Turnbull is reportedly wary of the idea, but told reporters that his party wants “to give all Australians a say on the matter.”
"We went to the election with a policy for a plebiscite which would give every Australian a say," he said.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten lambasted the postal vote as “snail mail”, urging Parliament to have a free vote.
"We're all in parliament. We should just vote and make marriage equality a reality," he told reporters.
Crossbencher Derryn Hinch agreed with Shorten’s views on time wasting.
"They should dump any idea of a plebiscite. We voted against it. Any idea of a mail plebiscite and I'll vote against that too. Let us do our job and we'll have it done by Thursday," he said.
Had the plebiscite gone ahead in February, as planned by the government but rejected by the Senate, the issue would have been settled by now, Mr Turnbull said.