Bill Shorten continues to call for free vote over plebiscite

Bill SHorten

With the Coalition more than likely to form a majority government with 76 seats, continuing Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has said he will continue to fight for a parliamentary vote within 100 days of the new government to change the Marriage Act rather than the proposed plebiscite.

With the outcome of many Senate seats still uncertain, Labor may have the numbers to work with The Greens, minor parties and independents to block the government’s plebiscite legislation in the upper house.

“Let’s see if we can’t have a conscience vote in the Parliament first-off,” Shorten told media yesterday.

“What is the case for a $160 million to be spent on a taxpayer-funded opinion poll, which the hard right of the Liberal Party said they’re not going to be bound by anyway?”

The Labor leader reminded reporters that Prime Minister Turnbull was fervently opposed to the idea of a non-binding plebiscite to gauge support for marriage equality in Australia, saying that voters would respect him “if he stuck to his own views before he became Liberal leader.”

Mr Shorten, who has just conceded the election to Mr Turnbull, says the election shows the people of Australia have made it clear they want the new Parliament to function.

“I think it would be a lot more practical and common sense to have a vote in the Parliament and be done with the issue and then we can get on with the other big issues, which are out there too.”

The Opposition Leader says he will “have a look at the matter” when it comes to blocking a plebiscite.

“I wish Mr Turnbull would reconsider his position,” Shorten said.

“Do we really need in Australia to have a damaging plebiscite?”

Australian Marriage Equality’s national director Rodney Croome has long been calling for a free vote to enact changes to the Marriage Act, and has no doubt marriage equality can be legislated for with a Parliamentary vote.

“There’s 81 members of the House of Representatives who have publicly declared their support for marriage equality and that’s a clear majority – but obviously some of those are on the Coalition side,” Croome said.

“I’m against a plebiscite and I think there’s an opportunity to block the legislation and instead have a free vote in Parliament.”

OIP Staff





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