Voluntary postal vote to cost $122 million

09 August, 2017, 00:07 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Any move to hold a postal vote on same-sex marriage is likely to be challenged in the High Court

But a crisis meeting of Liberal lawmakers made a decision to try again to persuade the Senate to endorse the plebiscite before Parliament considers voting on legislation.

Many other politicians would likely take a low key attitude, though outspoken Senator Eric Abetz was quick to say "I look forward to engaging with Australians and advocating why marriage should remain as it is".

Co-chair Alex Greenwich attended Senator Cormann's press conference, telling reporters afterwards the government's approach to marriage equality had gone "well beyond a joke".

The good news? Same-sex marriage could be legal in Australia before Christmas.

"There's a constitutional question over whether or not this postal opinion poll is even legitimate", Mr Shorten said.

It will be organised through the Australian Bureau of Statistics and cost $122 million.

Same sex marriage will be considered again by the joint party room meeting in Canberra on Tuesday, and will continue to play out as a divisive issue for much of the rest of the year.

The Turnbull government has consistently resisted calls to introduce marriage equality-enabling legislation in parliament despite apparent support from a majority of MPs, as well as openly LGBTQ lawmakers and an overwhelming majority of the public. These costs included damaging the parties by providing fuel to an already tense debate among liberals and conservatives, and costing the equivalent of $135 million Dollars to hold a vote, the Chicago Tribune reported. Then the postal vote would run from September 12 to November 7, with the outcome announced on November 15.

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However, Liberal lawmakers have to first persuade the Australian Senate to endorse the plebiscite and they have to do it before Parliament considers voting on the legislation.

Senator Nick Xenophon, whose minor party opposed the plebiscite in the November vote, said gay marriage would become an election issue if the plebiscite was blocked by the senate or the courts.

"We think this is a harmful debate", he said.

The conservative Liberal Party-led coalition was narrowly re-elected in July 2016 with a promise to let people decide whether Australia should recognise same-sex marriage through a popular vote.

Government tacticians view this as the best solution that will enable a start to 2018 without distractions on gay marriage and a focus on the economy, energy and national security.

The Equality Campaign dialled back its threat to launch legal action the day after a postal vote was floated, saying instead there was a "strong, strong prospect" of a challenge.

Labor has a conscience vote until the next election and, after that, members of the ALP would be bound to vote to allow same-sex couples to marry.

'A postal vote will be an expensive, non-binding, illegitimate process that will provide a platform for hate and go nowhere, ' said national spokesperson for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Shelley Argent.

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