On Wednesday the Turnbull government’s second attempt at a bill to force a compulsory plebiscite (public vote) on same sex marriage was blocked by the Senate, Labor, the Greens and a few crossbenchers vetoing the bill. As plan B, the government will now move to a non-binding, no compulsory postal ballot to decide the issue.
Turnbull has stated that a YES vote will see a bill brought into the House of Representatives as early as November, to redefine marriage.
Labor have been critical of this plan the entire way, stating that public debate on the issue opens the door to bigotry, homophobia, and hate speech. Turnbull however has stated that this was an election commitment, it is also likely that any attempt to force a conscience vote in the Liberal Party room would lead to a conservative revolt. He has criticised the Opposition for not trusting the good nature and sense of the Australian people, and for shutting the door on open and free debate in general.
Some background facts:
- The “Postal Plebiscite” (essentially a poll, as the result is not legally binding on the government), is set to cost approx. $120 million.
-All Australian citizens enrolled to vote will be able to, though unlike referendums and General Elections it is not compulsory.
-Malcolm Turnbull (PM, LNP) is PRO SSM, and has urged Australians to vote YES.
-Bill Shorten (ALP) is PRO SSM, and has also urged a YES vote.
-Former PM Tony Abbott (LNP) has said that “if you are sick of political correctness,” vote NO.
The vote is expected to occur around mid November. A High Court challenge is expected to be launched against the vote on constitutional grounds, however as the vote is not binding (not a referendum), it is unlikely that the challenge will lead to anything.
I will post updates as they occur.