Postal Plebiscite: The Idea That Won't Die

MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

TERRI BUTLER MP

SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR PREVENTING FAMILY VIOLENCE

SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR UNIVERSITIES

SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EQUALITY

MEMBER FOR GRIFFITH

 

POSTAL PLEBISCITE: THE IDEA THAT WON’T DIE

Even after the Parliament and Australian people comprehensively said “no” to a plebiscite on marriage equality, the government is keeping the zombie idea of a postal plebiscite alive.

At the end of 2016, both Attorney-General George Brandis and Special Minister of State Scott Ryan ruled out a non-binding postal plebiscite:

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Can I ask you about alternatives, and I know you are hoping to get your legislation through the Parliament on the same-sex marriage plebiscite, but if you don’t is there any way of conducting it without legislation?  

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: No, there is not.

-          Sky News – 18 September 2016 

SENATOR RYAN: Thank you, George. In terms of the mechanics of the proposed plebiscite, we have sought to replicate the provisions in the Referendum Act and the Electoral Act as far as possible so they are familiar to most voters. It will be a compulsory attendance ballot with normal access to pre-poll voting, postal voting and declaration voting.

-          Press Conference – 13 September 2016

Today, we learned that as late as March 2017 a cabinet submission in favour of a postal plebiscite was being considered, around the same time Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann were reportedly discussing it. 

And then, mysteriously, a $170 million allocation for the plebiscite reappeared in the 2017-18 budget.

The government must come clean – is it considering a postal vote plebiscite without legislation or not? Was Senator Brandis lying when he said there was no way to run a plebiscite without legislation? Then why is the government still talking about it? 

It’s astounding that Prime Minister Turnbull and his government are yet to wake up to the reality that the Australian people don’t want a plebiscite – they just want them to get on with the job and deliver marriage equality. Even some of their own MPs agree. 

How long do we have to wait until the government gives up playing its silly games with a plebiscite, and just allows a free vote?

FRIDAY, 14 JULY 2017

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