Coalition MP proposes unique plan for marriage plebiscite

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Coalition MP Warren Entsch has submitted a plan to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that would see Parliament vote on marriage equality before the next federal election.

The plan proposes that Parliament would resolve any changes to the Marriage Act by parliamentary vote, under the condition that amendments will not be made without a ‘Yes’ vote from a plebiscite.

The government’s current plan is to hold a plebiscite on marriage equality after the next election, a strategy formed under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s leadership.

Mr Entsch’s unique plan would see the debate resolved in Parliament, with the final decision being made by the Australian public through a plebiscite. Legislation will be put in place that would bind the government to enforce amendments to the Marriage Act depending on the outcome of the public vote.

Plebiscites do not usually bind governments to act, as referenda do, though Mr Entsch’s plan would ensure government action.

“They vote ‘Yes’, there is no further process, there is no further debate in the Parliament,” Mr Entsch told ABC.

Australian Marriage Equality director Rodney Croome has expressed concern that the trigger legislation may not be enforced by a future government.

“As far as I know there has never been a public vote of the kind that’s being talked about,” Mr Croome says.

“I have certainly spoken to legal and constitutional experts who have expressed some concerns about whether it’s even possible for the current Parliament to effectively bind the next Parliament by handing legislative power to the people.”

Mr Entsch’s plan will be discussed by both Coalition and Liberal party rooms before a final decision is made.

Stay tuned for more on this story as it develops.

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