Govt Sticks With Plebiscite as Advocates Call for Politicians to ‘Do Their Job’
6 February 2017 at 5:07 pm
The Australian government has reaffirmed its commitment to a plebiscite as a national campaign has been launched calling on politicians “to do their job” and allow a free-vote on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Treasurer Scott Morrison told reporters on Monday that reports of some Liberal MPs pushing for the government to abandon its proposed marriage equality plebiscite was “fake news” and he confirmed the government’s policy remained a plebiscite.
“The government made its position clear on this at the last election and that is where it remains,” Morrison said.
“I’ll leave the fake news to others. This is not an issue that is focusing the government’s attention.”
It comes after Fairfax Media reported on Saturday that a group of moderate MPs, including Dean Smith, Warren Entsch, Tim Wilson, Trent Zimmerman, Trevor Evans and Melissa Price, were set to start a push to abandon the plebiscite policy over the next two weeks in favour of a free vote on the floor of Parliament.
The news caused backlash from key conservative figures including Tony Abbott who said it would break “a key election promise”.
“Malcolm Turnbull made a clear election commitment that the marriage law would only change by way of people’s plebiscite, not free vote of the parliament,” Abbott told Fairfax Media.
“I’m sure he’ll honour that commitment. This isn’t about same-sex marriage, it’s about keeping faith with the people.”
Morrison confirmed on Monday the issue was not a focus of the government and its policy remained a plebiscite.
Meanwhile special minister of state Scott Ryan told Radio National the government was “committed” to the plebiscite and should not let Labor and the Greens “opportunism” in blocking it define Coalition policy.
It comes as The Equality Campaign, created by Australian Marriage Equality and Australians for Equality, with support from organisations, community groups and businesses across the country, has launched its largest ever national marriage equality campaign coinciding with the return of Parliament.
The advertising push, which launched on Sunday across TV, digital and on billboards, features LGBTI Australians “who care for a living” as firefighters, nurses, lifesavers and soldiers.
In the TV commercial the workers ask: “We can put our lives on the line. We can stand the heat. We can nurse you back to health. So why can’t we get married?
“We do our jobs. It’s about time politicians did theirs.”
Executive director of the Equality Campaign Tiernan Brady said they wanted to show politicians that Australia wants to celebrate marriage equality and that their campaign is “not going away”.
“Our campaign is not going away, and will only get stronger, until Federal Parliament delivers this straightforward and strongly supported reform that is all about fairness,” Brady said.
“Our national campaign is about building on the momentum and energy generated across the nation for marriage equality and continuing to campaign for a straightforward change to be achieved by a vote in the Parliament.”
Brady said the latest campaign featured real people across Australia “who make this country better”.
“Our soldiers, doctors, nurses, lifesavers and fire fighters, people who Australians are proud of but at the same time cannot marry the person they love in the country they serve,” he said.
“Across Australia, every day there are people who go to work and make Australian a better place, a safe place, a healthier place. These are everyday Australian heroes who do their job and are waiting for politicians to do theirs.”
Australian Marriage Equality National spokesperson Shirleene Robinson said the campaign was reminding MPs that Australia had “made up its mind”.
“The campaign is proud and confident of Australia. It is the land of a fair go for all. The value is also the overwhelming reason why majority Australians say they support marriage equality,” Robinson said.
“Two-thirds of Australians as well as a majority of politicians want every Australian to be able to marry the person they love. Marriage equality will not change anything for the vast majority of Australians, but will make a profound difference to the status and dignity of many.
“If MPs and senators were able to have a straight up vote on Marriage Equality it would pass comfortably. It is only the world of party politics that is preventing the wishes of the Australian people from taking place.
“Our supporters across the nation need to call their MP and ask for a straightforward vote in the Parliament.”