PM to Introduce Bill For Plebiscite
Tuesday, 13th September 2016 at 3:06 pm
The prime minister has confirmed he will introduce the bill to enable a same-sex marriage plebiscite in parliament this week.
Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General George Brandis held separate press conferences ahead of Question Time on Tuesday, dealing with the same-sex marriage plebiscite.
They confirmed cabinet had signed off on plans to hold a compulsory vote on 11 February 2017.
The question to be put to voters will be: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
The prime minister said the government’s plebiscite was a “carefully considered proposal” that would allow all Australians to have a say on gay marriage in a “thoroughly fair manner”.
“Our job as the government, as parliamentarians today, is not to try to tip the table one way or another, we want it to be an absolutely fair, civil contest, that both sides feel they’ve had a fair go,” Turnbull said.
The attorney general also confirmed the yes and no campaigns will each receive $7.5 million of public funding, to be administered by two committees.
However Labor could still block the legislation in the senate.
Brandis called on Bill Shorten to “get out of the way” and to allow the plebiscite bill passage through the Senate.
“I call on Bill Shorten to get out of the way, to allow the plebiscite bill passage through the Senate, to allow the Australian people to have their say and, importantly, in the event that there is a yes vote in the plebiscite to allow there to be marriage equality in Australia by early next year,” Brandis said.
However, deputy leader of the opposition Tanya Plibersek said on Tuesday morning that Labor would debate the issue through their internal processes once they had seen the legislation from the government, but they had some deep concerns.
“I’m concerned about wasting $160 million on a plebiscite that parliamentarians have already said they’re going to ignore. And I’m particularly concerned about throwing another $15 million on top of the pile to run campaigns against marriage equality,” Plibersek said.
“To say that there is something wrong with being gay or lesbian – we know that it is hard enough being a teenager; it’s hard enough being a teenager who’s coming out. Being a teenager who’s coming out at a time when there is a national debate about there being something wrong with you, something wrong with the fact that you’re same-sex attracted – that’s a terrible thing to do to young Australians.
“And I’m particularly concerned too about kids who are growing up in families where they’ve got two mums, or two dads, being told that there’s something wrong with their family, that their family type is so dangerous that we have to have a national debate about their family type.
“We already have some organisations arguing that legislation around anti-discrimination, legislation around advertising standards should be suspended for this debate. What is it that these organisations want to say that it’s illegal to say now?”
It comes after West Australian senator Dean Smith, the Liberal Party’s first openly gay federal politician, said the plebiscite was “an abhorrent idea” and he could not to support it.
Smith said the decision to provide $15 million to the public campaigns had added “insult to injury”.
He informed his colleagues at the party room meeting on Tuesday that it had not been an easy decision to stand against his own party’s policy.
Meanwhile the West Australian government has expressed frustration over the timing of the proposed same-sex marriage plebiscite, with the deputy premier admitting it will be a significant “distraction” for the state election campaign.