AWU National Secretary Paul Howes backs binding party vote for ALP
AWU heavyweight, Paul Howes, has called for the ALP to have a binding party vote in support of marriage equality should Tony Abbott mount federal opposition to the impending ACT law.
Howe released a speech in advance of this evening’s Future of Marriage Equality Forum suggesting a conscience vote is wrong and a binding party vote in favour of marriage equality is what is needed.
In the speech to be delivered tonight, Howes said:
"The Australian Labor Party’s current position and my view at Labor’s last National Conference on marriage equality is wrong. By designating marriage equality as a conscience vote issue, we have allowed ourselves to make a basic category error; one which I believe fundamentally grates with what it is that the Labor Party stands for. It is not an issue of individual conscience; it is a matter of basic social justice... In the lead up to the next National Conference of the Labor Party, I am hopeful that many others like me who mistakenly supported a conscience vote will realise the errors of their ways."
Australian Marriage Equality Chair, and Sydney Independent MP, Alex Greenwich, commented: “Mr Howes' desire for Labor to provide the maximum number of votes possible for reform is a great sign of respect for same-sex couples and their families. This will be warmly welcomed by the grass-roots of the Labor party who strongly support reform because they value fairness and equality."
Greenwich believes a binding vote will increase the number of MPs voting for marriage equality meaning only 16 Coalition members would need to vote for marriage equality to become law. Already several high profile Liberal party members including Simon Birmingham, Malcolm Turnbull and Kelly O’Dwyer have voiced their support for the reform.
Australian Marriage Equality Deputy Director, Ivan Hinton, suggests the immediate concern is for the Labor party to commit to blocking any federal government attempts to overturn the ACT marriage equality laws.
"The ACT Labor Party went to their recent election committing to deliver marriage equality. Their Federal Labor counterparts hold the key to protecting the territory's right to legislate for what ACT voters want,” said Hinton.
Tonight’s forum at the Beauchamp Hotel “The Future of Marriage Equality” will feature a panel discussion with Paul Howes, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Alex Greenwich MP, Clr Christine Forster, and AME’s Ivan Hinton.
Read more about the forum here.