Attorney General George Brandis says marriage equality plebiscite by year’s end
Attorney General George Brandis has promised Australians will vote on the issue of marriage equality by year’s end.
Brandis has suggested if the Turnbull government is re-elected, and the nation votes yes to legalise same-sex marriage If Australia voted “yes” to legalise same-sex marriage, the government would quickly legislate the people’s mandate.
“Were the government to be re-elected, there will be a plebiscite. The plebiscite will occur before the end of this year,” Senator Brandis told Sky News
“The bill to constitute the plebiscite will be introduced early in the life of the new parliament so as we can have the plebiscite before the end of this year.”
Brandis said the wording of the question for the plebiscite was still to be determined and may not be revealed before the next federal election which is currently being tipped for October.
In the interview Brandis voiced his support for same-sex marriage but said he could understand the reticence of some MPs in conservative electorates.
“I don’t have a problem with that but I would expect that there is little, virtually no doubt at all that if the public votes yes, the parliament will follow,” he said.
“I believe that marriage is one of the fundamental institutions of society and I think it’s important that the fundamental institutions of society reflect the fundamental values of society. Treating gay people equally is, I think one of the fundamental values of modern Australian society.”
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has promised if elected Labor will legislate for marriage equality in the first 100 days of parliament.
.Advocates say parliament should enact marriage equality straight away rather than put the matter to an expensive plebiscite, but if there is a plebiscite the result should automatically become law.
Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, said,
"If the government allowed a free vote in parliament we could have marriage equality next week rather than delaying until the end of the year by putting the issue to an expensive and unnecessary plebiscite ."
"But if there is to be a plebiscite the result should automatically change the law and not return to parliament for further debate and delays."
The Australian Electoral Commission has estimated a marriage equality plebiscite will cost taxpayers $160 million.