Plebiscite Blocked By Senate
8 November 2016 at 11:39 am
The controversial $170 million plebiscite to legalise same-sex marriage has been blocked by the senate.
The proposal was voted down in the Upper House on Monday with Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch joining to defeat the bill with 33 votes to 29.
Openly-gay Liberal Senator Dean Smith abstained from voting, after earlier speaking out against the plebiscite, which was due to be held in February 2017.
The result comes amid warnings from Attorney-General George Brandis that voting against the plebiscite would delay same-sex marriage in Australia for years to come.
He called Labor’s decision to vote against the plebiscite “one of the more cynical exercises in politics” that he had ever seen.
However, in a joint statement, Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek, Mark Dreyfus and Terri Butler said Labor made “no apologies” for helping to block the plebiscite.
“The LGBTI community didn’t want it, and the Australian community didn’t either,” they said.
“It was a waste of valuable taxpayer funds, and it was never about the achievement of marriage equality.
“It was Tony Abbott’s policy – adopted by Malcolm Turnbull – that was designing to kill marriage equality.”
Labor said it will now continue to push for a free parliamentary vote.
“Predictably, the government is now trying to argue that marriage equality is off the agenda for this term of Parliament. They are dreaming,” they said.
“The prospect of a hateful, divisive plebiscite has mobilised the LGBTI community, and all supporters of equality. They are not going away. Labor will continue to campaign for a free parliamentary vote.
“We can have marriage equality right now, if only Mr Turnbull was strong enough to stand up for the principles he supposedly believes in.”
Australians for Equality (A4E) and Australian Marriage Equality (AME) have called on marriage equality supporters across parliament to work together to find a fair pathway that allows every Australian to have equal status.
“The majority of Australians and parliamentarians back marriage equality and believe this issue can be resolved by a vote in this parliament, allowing every Australian to marry the person they love,” AME co-chair Alex Greenwich said.
“Now that the plebiscite legislation is dead, we again call on marriage equality supporters across all political parties to work together to find a pathway. Marriage equality is a straightforward reform that will not cost anything or take anything from anyone but will offer a profound difference to the status and dignity of many.
“The majority of Australians and politicians want every Australian to be able to marry the person they love. It is time our parliamentarians found a fair and dignified pathway that ensured every Australian is treated equal.”
A4E co-chair Anna Brown said the latest campaign will continue to build on the “momentum and energy across the nation” for marriage equality.
“The campaign will continue to remind our MPs that fairness and equality are at the heart of Australian society,” Brown said.
“Marriage is about the commitment shared between two people who love each other and want a secure future. This is good for our community and our nation.
“Fairness and equality are at the heart of Australian society and we believe our laws should reflect these values of which we are most proud.”