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How to ensure you’re ready to vote on the postal plebiscite for Australian marriage equality

It looks like the non-binding, unnecessary, expensive and downright offensive postal plebiscite is actually happening, folks.

Even if you disagree with it – and most of you probably do – choosing not to vote will be effectively voting “no”. Boycotting the vote may just prolong the misery of Australians who deserve to be treated equally, and we’ve previously explained why donkey voting is a useless exercise.

While it’s true that the postal plebiscite is non-binding, it is likely that given a “free vote” in parliament, Aussie politicians will finally do the right thing and make same-sex marriage legal. In doing so, Australian will be the last English-speaking developed country to give members of the LGBT community this basic human right.

Of course, the politicians could do it all by themselves today – the High Court decided as much in 2013 – but the majority of the Liberal Party has stuck to the election promise of a plebiscite. This is the hill Turnbull has chosen to die on.

When will the postal plebiscite by held?

The vote is voluntary. Eligible voters who wish to cast their vote will need to return their ballots by November 7 2017.

Where do I get the ballot sheet?

The ballot will be mailed to you, which is why it’s important to update your postal details (name, address etc.) to ensure the ballot gets to you.

What do I do if I’m not enrolled?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will announce that Australians not already on the electoral roll will have until August 24 2017 to register with the Australian Electoral Commission.

If you are not on the electoral roll you need to enrol here.

If you are already on the roll but have changed your address you can update your details here.

The ABS, who famously bungled the Census last year, will work with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) and Australia Post to get the job done.

When will the votes be counted?

The votes should be counted by mid-November, which – if the result is yes – will give our pollies a chance at a conscience vote. Labor and Greens party members are all expected to vote “yes”, and there are at least five Liberal MPs – the ones who drafted the bill – who will vote “yes” too. That should be enough to get the bill over the line and passed into law sometime in 2018.

How much will the postal plebiscite cost?

While the government have estimated a cost of $122 million, figures put forward from PricewaterhouseCoopers suggest that the plebiscite could cost up to $525 million, made up of $160 million for the ballot itself, $66 million to fund the “yes” and “no” cases, and $281 million in lost productivity.

And what have pollies been saying about the postal plebiscite?

Tony Abbott has wasted no time shifting his “no” campaign into full gear.

“Obviously I will be voting no,” he said on Wednesday. But in the end, this is not about the politicians, this is about the people, it’s about your view.” “And I say to you if you don’t like same-sex marriage, vote no. If you’re worried about religious freedom and freedom of speech, vote no, and if you don’t like political correctness, vote no because voting no will help to stop political correctness in its tracks.”


Immediately following Abbott’s remarks, his sister – also a Liberal MP and clearly the brighter one in the family – tweeted:

Labor Senator Penny Wong – a lesbian with two children – delivered an emotional speech to the Upper House on Thursday. In response to the idea that this is a “unifying moment”, she said:

“The Australian Christian Lobby described our children as the stolen generation. We love our children and I object, as does every person who cares about children, and as do all those couples in this country, same-sex couples who have kids, to be told our children are a stolen generation. You talk about unifying moments? It is not a unifying moment. It is exposing our children to that kind of hatred.”

If you want to have an impact on the same-sex marriage decision, please make sure you are on the roll and that your details are up to date.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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Comment (2)


    Thursday 10 August 2017

    We are all entitled to our own beliefs. My belief is that the Liberal Party is a relic from the past with archaic views and to don’t have the guts to show Australia or the rest of the world openly what they really are. As the author says we are the last English speaking country to have equal rights. Also i would like to mention other countries that have gone down the plebiscite path in hind sight have said don’t.



    Friday 25 August 2017

    I can’t believe how long its taking to just get it legalised already. The fact that this even requires a vote is embarrassing…