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Plebiscite ‘Back from the Dead?’

11 May 2017 at 8:51 am
Lina Caneva
The allocation of funding in Tuesday’s federal budget for the controversial marriage equality plebiscite – killed off by the Senate last year – has raised eyebrows and concerns among advocacy groups.

Lina Caneva | 11 May 2017 at 8:51 am


Plebiscite ‘Back from the Dead?’
11 May 2017 at 8:51 am

The allocation of funding in Tuesday’s federal budget for the controversial marriage equality plebiscite  –  killed off by the Senate last year – has raised eyebrows and concerns among advocacy groups.

Co-chair of Australian Marriage Equality, Alex Greenwich said: “The budget allocation of $170 million in contingency funds for a rejected plebiscite is a waste of taxpayers money when the Parliament has already said ‘no’. [The government] has the power to allow marriage equality now.

“The majority of the nation and the majority of MPs support marriage equality. It is a straightforward reform that takes from no one but ensures every Australian is afforded the same dignity and respect.

“A vote in the Parliament has the added bonus of being free and at no cost to the Australian people while extending civil marriage to all Australians.”

In November 2016 the plebiscite proposal was voted down in the Senate with Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch joining to defeat the bill with 33 votes to 29.

The result came 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.

Budget Paper No 1 released on Tuesday said: “The Australian government remains committed to a plebiscite in relation to same-sex marriage, despite the Senate not supporting the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016. To this end, the Australian government will provide $170 million to conduct a same-sex marriage plebiscite as soon as the necessary legislation is enacted by the Parliament.”

Executive director of the Equality Campaign, Tiernan Brady said: “Despite a note in the budget papers the plebiscite is still dead  – Parliament killed it.

“Marriage equality supporters in Parliament have confirmed that their position is not changing.”

However, the federal opposition warned that the government had brought the marriage equality plebiscite “back from the dead”.

“Despite explicitly banking more than $100 million in savings for not proceeding with the marriage equality plebiscite in last year’s mid-year economic and fiscal update, $170 million in funding for the marriage equality plebiscite has reappeared in the 2017-18 budget as a contingency measure,” deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said.

“The marriage equality plebiscite was always a terrible idea, which was met with strong opposition from the LGBTI community, the majority of Australians, and Australian Labor. It was comprehensively defeated in the Senate.

“Prime Minister Turnbull needs to explain why the government has made a screeching reversal on its funding allocation for a plebiscite.”

A spokesperson for Brandis told Pro Bono News the plebiscite on marriage equality was a coalition policy that went to an election but was voted down by the Senate.

“It is still, in essence, a policy of the government and the funding is there as a contingency,” the spokesperson said.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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  • Ewan Filmer says:

    Just perhaps you should also talk to the advocacy groups want the plebiscite to happen. Believe it or not, there are actually compelling arguments against ‘marriage equality’, but the advocates of tolerance refuse to tolerate any dissent with their agenda.

    Don’t forget Bill Shorten was pushing for a plebiscite not so long ago, it was ALP policy.

    The official line is now it is a cost saving measure as somehow we all want SSM anyway.

    SSM by definition is about love and respect however opponents can be demonised as rednecks, bigot, hate filled and homophobes. Or fundamentalist bible bashers.

    Yours is an imbalanced approach. At least you quoted one person who favoured the plebiscite but the deck is stacked in Probono’s reporting.

  • Neil Aitchison says:

    There is already have marriage equality in Australia. Everyone has equal opportunity to marry under the current Australian Marriage Act no matter who they are – they are either eligable or not, but it is applied equally. Homosexuals choose not to marry a member of the opposite sex (as defined in the current Marriage Act) and so what they are wanting to do is to redefine marriage in the Marriage Act to include same sex couples because it doesn’t include them in it’s current definition. It is redefinition of legal marriage that they are after. They can even have “gay marriage” now if a gay man marries a gay woman – but they choose not to marry this way. Marriage is a choice….always has been, always will be. The claim of having “equal rights’ for homosexuals is a propaganda slogan and a sly stunt to emotionally blackmail people into making homosexuality look acceptable. The Marxists have sabotaged the push to legalise homosexual marriage so that they can destroy the family bond that age-old traditional parenthood marriage creates – this lets the State step in to provide the nurture and security for people. Two political agendas are in play: 1. the humanists are trying to make homosexuality look acceptable as an attack on religion (primarily Christianity because Christians don’t shoot first and ask questions later)….and 2. Socialist Marxists are trying to have a government-run society. Not all of us are fooled by the propaganda slogans and political stunts to socially engineer our lives away from the natural way that we are designed to live. The homosexual agenda has been clearly outlined in a book called “After The Ball” published in late 1980s – it is a strategy that manipulates society into secular hedonism and debauchery.

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