Featured Image for Bill Shorten kicks off “yes” campaign with fierce attack on Malcolm Turnbull

Bill Shorten kicks off “yes” campaign with fierce attack on Malcolm Turnbull

Labor leader Bill Shorten delivered a scathing attack on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as Australia prepares for a postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

Speaking to parliament on Thursday, Shorten also officially launched Labor’s “yes” campaign, which will ask Australians to vote yes on the non-binding postal plebiscite.

“I hold you responsible for every hurtful bit of filth this debate will unleash,” Shorten said, addressing Turnbull.

In what was a passionate and fiery speech, Shorten said that Labor would campaign hard for a “yes” vote in the postal ballot, despite that the fact that the process is unnecessary, expensive and hateful.

“He [Turnbull] is giving his blessing to billboards, websites, pamphlets, TV advertising and online material. It will vilify and demean LGBTI Australians and their children,” Shorten said. Later, Shorten made a rallying call to Australians:

Vote ‘yes’ and make sure your friends and relatives and colleagues and classmates and teammates vote ‘yes’, too. Get your name on the electoral roll today. Make your voice heard. Voting ‘yes’ is not about endorsing this process, it is about refusing to walk past our fellow Australians when they need us. This is my message for business leaders, sporting leaders and community groups. It is time to fight for equality.

Shorten’s speech follows a scathing speech by Labor Senator Penny Wong, who is also against postal plebiscite, but wants Australians to vote “yes” anyway. In an op ed for The Sydney Morning Herald, Wong called the postal plebiscite hurtful and called into question its validity.

“We didn’t want to be here. We shouldn’t be here. But now we are here, we have to fight,” she wrote, imploring readers to vote ‘yes’.

“We know from the 1997 postal ballot on the republic that turnout is likely to be very low, especially among young people. It will disenfranchise people in remote areas, especially Indigenous Australians, and those travelling overseas. And there are very serious questions about the ability of the ABS to run such a ballot,” she added.

Meanwhile, over on the wrong side of history, is the “no” camp.

On Thursday, former MP John Howard told The Australian that he would be joining Tony Abbott – also a former PM – on Team No.

The most dangerous thing is to think that “yes” will win because our echo chamber tells us so. There are still large patches of the country who think that same-sex marriage should not be allowed. They aren’t your Facebook friends and they aren’t on your Twitter feed. But come voting day, their opinion will matter just as much as yours.

Refusing to vote is as good as voting ‘no’.

Key facts:

Australians over the age of 18 have until August 24th 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 vote is voluntary and ballots must be turned in by November 7 2017.

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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