News Hundreds of marriage equality supporters rally to call on the federal government to grant a free vote on marriage equality at Victorian parliament in Melbourne, Saturday, June 13, 2015. (AAP Image/Julian Smith) NO ARCHIVING

Published on August 15th, 2015 | by Kurtis Hughes

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Division Within Cabinet Over Holding Plebiscite Or Referendum On Marriage Equality Public Vote.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has proposed that the Australian people vote on the issue of marriage equality following the next election, but it is unknown whether this shall happen through a referendum or plebiscite.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison and Conservative Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi, who are both against same-sex marriage, are pushing for a referendum on the issue.

In order for a referendum to be successful, it would need a national majority and the additional support of the states. Many senior ministers are advocating for a plebiscite, which would only need a national majority to be successful. Regardless of the division within government over the issue, Tony Abbott has stated that his party aims to include voters within the decision making process.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is an advocate for same-sex marriage, is pushing against a referendum on the issue. Turnbull has mentioned the possibility of a plebiscite, which could be held before the next election. The Government is not compelled to act because of a plebiscite, but Mr Turnbull has said Parliament could pass legislation to ensure the outcome of the vote is binding

“What I think you would need to do is pass a bill which legalised same-sex marriage, to go through the legislative process, and then have a provision in the bill which said it is not going to be law until a majority of Australians have voted in favour of it at a plebiscite,” he said.

Senior Liberal and Education Minister Christopher Pyne has told Channel Nine he also believes that a plebiscite, which was backed by Attorney-General George Brandis, is the most appropriate action. Liberal Dennis Jensen, along with numerous other backbenchers, is in support of a referendum believing that a referendum will “put the issue to bed”.

It was revealed Thursday night that Minister Pyne had asked Nationals Leader Warren Truss not to bring his MP’s to the special meeting, which was called on Tuesday, regarding the same-sex marriage debate. Queensland National MP, George Christensen was angered by such a remark stating, “Mr. Pyne doesn’t run the show, Mr. Abbott does.”

Queensland LNP MP Wyatt Roy has stated, along with several other backbenchers, such as Western Australia Liberal Senator Dean Smith, that he would cross the floor in support for legalising same-sex marriage, if a bill were to come before Parliament before the next election. Regardless of the perceived political consequences for such an action Mr. Roy believes that, “at some point as a politician surely you would think ‘let’s do what we think is right, not what’s going to get me the most votes.’”’

Queensland Liberal National MP Warren Entsch has said he will be introducing a bill, which will be co-sponsored by the Labor Party, into the House of Representatives on Monday regarding legalising same-sex marriage. Entsch has stated that following Tuesday’s events, he does not believe that the bill will get a smooth transition.


About the Author

Kurtis Hughes

Kurtis is a third-year Communications and Journalism student at UOW who specialises in Australian politics, foreign affairs and the LGBTQ+ community.



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