Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Plebiscite or vote OK: MP

Trevor Evans is another Liberal MP who wants to see the matter decided via conscience vote Trevor Evans is another Liberal MP who wants to see the matter decided via conscience vote
Howard Terry | 09 August, 2017, 00:06

"While I personally support same-sex marriage, I agreed with the Coalition's policy of a national plebiscite to allow all Australians a chance to have their say on the issue", Mr Chester told The Express.

"If that were to fail, the government believes that we have a legal and constitutional way forward to give the Australian people a say on whether or not the definition of marriage should be changed through a non-legislated, voluntary postal plebiscite". If the Senate rejects the measure, the government would then hold a voluntary postal vote, with the votes due back by mid-November, at a cost of $97 million.

The leader of the Labor opposition party, Mr Bill Shorten, who supports same-sex marriage, said that holding a plebiscite was "ridiculous".

"To be clear, it is impossible to determine whether a parliamentarian should adhere to their electorate, their state or to the national vote and in those circumstances, all parliamentarians should be given a degree of leeway to adhere to how they can best represent those who elected them", Senator Abetz said.

If the majority of Australians return their ballots with a "yes" vote, a private members' bill amending the Marriage Act will go to Parliament, where Liberal members will be able to exercise a free vote, meaning they can vote according to their own beliefs.

A plebiscite bill was introduced by the government previous year, but defeated in the Senate by 33 votes to 29.

Debate on gay marriage has lasted more than a decade in Australia.

The cost will be hefty - up to A$122 million. Forster on Monday noted to the Blade that marriage rights for same-sex couples have "broad community support and would do nothing more than bring us into line with the USA, U.K., New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and other countries" in which "same-sex marriage is legal and has had absolutely no detrimental impact". He added, "I'm a strong leader".

His comments come as same-sex marriage advocates seek new legal advice on the constitutionality of the ABS conducting the postal ballot.

If most Australians want gay marriage, the Parliament would vote on legislation before the last two-week session of Parliament of the year ends on December 7.

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

When asked if he and his partner Ryan want to become the "face" of same-sex marriage in Australia, Ian said: "For us, we haven't been waiting for this as long as what so many other people [have]".

Victorian MP Jason Wood also prefers a parliamentary vote, but is willing to back a postal plebiscite.

The postal plebiscite will wrap up by November 15.

The Prime Minister spoke first, urging the party room to abide by an election commitment to give people a choice to vote on the matter.

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