Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Australia plans gay marriage postal vote

Australia's first gay High Court judge said he would boycott a planned postal vote on marriage equality.

The conservative Liberal Party-led coalition was narrowly re-elected in July 2016 with a promise to let voters decide whether Australia should recognize same-sex marriage through a popular vote.

"It's just something we've never done in our constitutional arrangements of Australia, and it really is unacceptable", Kirby told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

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.

Before the compulsory plebiscite was defeated, there had been mixed views among same-sex marriage advocates about whether to knuckle down and fight for a "yes" vote, as had recently succeeded in Ireland, or whether to block the national plebiscite.

But the government's second bid was defeated on Wednesday by a 31-vote tie.

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Liberal backbencher Dean Smith, whose attempt to initiate a parliamentary vote on gay marriage was stymied by his party colleagues this week, supported the government but chose to sit with the crossbench. Many were hoping they might convinced to hold a free vote. "They simply can not countenance people like me and others being equal", Wong, a lesbian, told the Senate.

The law does not say married opposite-sex couples must have children. Echoing his three-word mantra of "no carbon tax" (how power prices have escalated since he implemented that policy!) Abbott gave three reasons for his negativity: opposition to same-sex marriage per se, the defence of religion, and his hostility to "political correctness". "The hurt, the hatred, the attacks on LGBTI people are going to be amplified in our community".

"I am. deeply anxious that a government — any government — thinks that it has the authority to bypass the Parliament, that any government thinks that it is a law unto itself, that any government would think that the constitution doesn't matter". Supporters also fear the postal option could disenfranchise younger Australians - usually more supportive of same-sex marriage - who are less likely to use the mailing system. But national referendums in Australian rarely change the status quo.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has unleashed a fierce tirade against Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, saying he held the Prime Minister "responsible for every hurtful bit of filth" that the postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage is feared to allow.

But with the likelihood the Bill will fail in its current form, the Government will move to a non-compulsory, non-binding postal plebiscite, which will ask Australians to vote on the issue in October.

Pollster Martin O'Shannessy said a market researcher would be able to provide a more accurate picture of Australians' attitudes toward gay marriage through telephone polling for less than $AU1.2 million.

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