Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is discouraging a bill that would allow politicians to hold a conscience vote on same-sex marriage.
Last month, we reported that openly gay Senator Dean Smith and NSW MP Trent Zimmerman were working on a private members’ bill that they hoped to present to Parliament as soon as August.
When asked about the bill by reporters in Paris, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Turnbull said: “Dean crossed the floor against the plebiscite bill in the Senate so he’s got a longstanding view about it. And in our party room, members are entitled to raise what-ever issues they like.”
“We support a plebiscite where all Australians will be given a vote on the matter,” Turnbull added. “It is critical that all Australians be given a say and the only reason they haven’t been given that say is because of Bill Shorten.”
Shorten responded by saying that Smith agrees with Labor on just allowing a conscience vote.
“It’s time for Malcolm Turnbull to listen to Australians and his own MPs and senators and just get this done,” Shorten said.
A brief summary of the situation is this.
Since 2013, the Federal Government has had the right to enact marriage equality. But the Turnbull Government’s policy is for a plebiscite, which is a nationwide vote to find out how the public feels about it first.
The problem with the plebiscite is that it is expensive, redundant and weak.
As reported by ABC News, Pricewaterhouse Coopers estimates that the plebiscite would cost Aussie taxpayers about $525 million all up, which is money we could further be investing in useful things like renewable energy.
The plebiscite is redundant because we all know what the result will and should be. Polls show that around 70 percent of Australians support gay marriage. Australia is now the last developed English-speaking country to prohibit same-sex marriage.
The plebiscite is weak because it’s non-binding. This means that even if we all vote yes, the Government can still say “no” anyway. And Labor will most probably do everything in its power to block the plebiscite, which will yield no results. So while the pollies argue, our LGBT community will continue to be denied a human right.
But if Senator Smith can drum up enough backing from within his own party, the issue can still be forced. Turnbull’s position does not mean that the bill cannot go ahead, it just shows that our Prime Minister is choosing party over people.