Alan Tudge on postal plebiscite “It will look and feel like an election”

Alan Tudge, the Minister for Human Services, says the government’s postal plebiscite which will see the Australian Bureau of Statistics survey Australians thoughts on marriage equality will look and feel like an election.

Speaking on the ABC’s RN Drive Tudge told host Patricia Karvelas that while the plebiscite would not be conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission, it would feel like an election process.

“It is a postal vote, but its a voluntary postal vote.” Tudge said.

“For all intents and purposes it’ll look and feel like an election that people are used to. Many people apply for a postal vote for example in federal elections. It will be very similar to that process.”

The minister said the outcome of the vote would be legitimate regardless of how many people returned their ballot papers.

“I think it will be legitimate regardless, because every single Australians will have the opportunity to vote. Now, whether or not they choose the exercise it is up to them.”

Tudge said that he was confident that if the process returned a yes vote for marriage equality, the government would bring in the marriage legislation, despite some of this colleagues declaring they would ignore the results and vote against allowing gay couples to wed.

The minister responded to concerns that the process could potentially exempt homeless people and younger voters saying that people who were passionate about the issue would find their ballot papers.

Tudge said he didn’t accept concerns that the LGBTI community and their families would experience negative mental health effects during the months of debate leading up to the vote.

The minister said Ireland had successfully conducted a referendum on changing the marriage laws and it had been celebrated by the gay community.

“I think we are a mature enough country to have a sensible, constructive, debate over this important topic.”

Tudge said while he hadn’t seen flyers distributed by former Liberal Minister Chris Miles, that claim that the children of LGBT parents are more likely to abuse drugs and become unemployed, he admitted that from Patricia Karvelas’ description they were not an example of a respectful debate.

On Tuesday Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull outlined his government’s revived plan for a plebiscite on marriage equality, and if necessary a secondary option of a postal plebiscite.

The government’s bill for a plebiscite that was defeated in the senate last year will be reintroduced into the senate this week. The government now plans to hold the compulsory plebiscite on Saturday 25 November, the same night as Perth’s annual Pride Parade.

The bill faces certain defeat after The Greens, Labor and The Nick Xenophon Team, alongside independent Senators Jacqui Lambie and Derryn Hinch, ruled out giving any support.

Turnbull said if the senate rejects his bill for a second time, he’ll roll out an optional postal plebiscite to honour his election commitment to allow all Australians to have a say on the matter.

The process will be conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and cost $122 million dollars. Ballots are expected to arrive in people’s mail boxes by mid September, giving younger voters just a few weeks to ensure they are on the electoral role.

OIP Staff

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