Local News

Same-sex marriage: Australia will vote on marriage equality by post

The $122m(!) postal vote is set to go ahead in November this year.

By Lorna Gray
It’s been a crazy 24 hours in Australian politics and the hot topic on everyone’s lips is same-sex marriage and when will gay marriage be legalised in Australia?
Following weeks of in-fighting, the Liberal Party held an emergency meeting on marriage equality yesterday and, well, they wound up right back where they started… voting to have a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

So, where are we now with same-sex marriage in Australia?

Well, good question, folks.
The plebiscite has been shot down in parliament again following the first unsuccessful bid by the Liberal Party last October..
Labor, the Greens and Nick Xenephon all strongly opposed the idea.

Why was the plebiscite unpopular?

“There is real risk that LGBTI Australians will be subjected to a well-organised well-funded campaign of vitriol and prejudice. Every piece of expert advice tells us young Australians who are gay are more likely to contemplate suicide. A 'No' campaign would be an emotional torment for gay teenagers. If one child commits suicide over the plebiscite, then that is one too many."
This was Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s emotive argument against the idea of a plebiscite last year.
We get his point - should we really be voting to decide whether or not gay people – y’know, human beings, are entitled to the same legal framework as other members of society?
It was also going to be ridiculously expensive and could've cost the Australian economy more than half a billion dollars.

When will the postal plebiscite for same sex marriage occur?

“Everyone on the electoral roll will be getting a ballot paper,” Malcolm Turnbull explained at a press conference yesterday. The postal vote is expected to happen on 7 November this year.
However, unlike voting in an election, the postal vote in not compulsory.
If the postal ballot comes back with a majority "yes", a private member's bill would go to parliament with Liberal members exercising a free vote on it.
But advocacy group Australian Marriage Equality says a postal vote would be unconstitutional and has legal advice to confirm this, warning of a High Court challenge to prevent it going ahead.
Oh, and did we mention it'll cost the taxpayer $122million?
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he’ll be voting in favour of marriage equality

So... why didn't he push for a conscience vote, we hear you cry?
"Strong leaders carry out their promises," he declared yesterday.
Basically, he promised a plebiscite during his election campaign. Which now can't happen.
Lateline host Emma Alberici gave the best response, in our opinion, to the “election promise” argument.
When Finance Minister and Acting Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann told Alberici, “we keep our election promises”, her response was perfect:
“Why the sudden obsession with keeping election promises? You didn’t keep your promise when it came to health and education. No new taxes was what you said before the 2013 election and you introduced the three percent deficit repair tax. You promised no cuts to the ABC and you took $44 million from us.
“Tony Abbott promised you wouldn’t shut any medicare locals; all of them are gone. Julie Bishop promised no cuts to foreign aid and that it would grow in line with inflation; instead it was frozen which represents a $7.6 billion real cut. Then there was Tony Abbott’s signature policy on paid parental leave which has also been abandoned. Why is this particular promise so important to keep?”
Expect a LOT of noise over the postal vote in the coming days. Particularly from advocacy groups who may be taking the issue to the High Court to challenge the postal vote going ahead.