Colin Barnett not happy plebiscite may overlap state election


Colin BarnettWestern Australian Premier Colin Barnett is not overjoyed that the plebiscite on marriage equality may overlap the campaign for the state election.

There has been speculation that the plebiscite will not be held until February 2017.

The federal government has confirmed that the Australian Electoral Commission has given them advice that it’s not possible to hold the national opinion poll before the end of the year.

Yesterday government ministers were saying that no decision has be made on the timing on the plebiscite and it’s a matter cabinet will consider in a few weeks.

If the plebiscite goes ahead in February it will clash with the Western Australian state election campaign. Western Australians are locked into go to the polls on Saturday March 11th.

WA’s premier say the two polls should be kept as separate as possible and any overlap avoided.

“They should be as separate as possible,” Barnett said in a statement.

The Premier also repeated his call for issue to be settled by the federal government in parliament.

“In any case, it is my view that the matter should be decided by Federal Parliament, without the need for a plebiscite.

“I am concerned the issue will become divisive within the community.”

It’s not the first time Barnett has voiced his opposition to the plebiscite. While the Premier is personally opposed to marriage equality, he prefers civil unions as a option for gay and lesbian people, he is vocally opposed to the plebiscite.

Last year when WA’s Legislative Assembly passed a motion calling for the federal government to drop the proposed plebiscite Premier Barnett said politicians in Canberra should just do their job.

During the debate in the WA parliament Barnett said that while for some people marriage was a moral issue or a religious issue, the truth was that the vast majority of Australians didn’t care.

The Premier shared his belief that civil unions were a way forward, but he was also adamant that society would not benefit from a long drawn out debate on the issue. Barnett said this issue was not dealt with the debate would be filled with personal insults and abuse.

The Premier is not the only WA politician questioning the Prime Ministers dedication to the plebiscite. Health Minister John Day also voiced concern.

“We would prefer, if there is going to be a plebiscite, that it’s not held at the same time as when the next state election is underway,” Day told Perth Now. “From our point of view, mine personally and the government’s, and I know it has been expressed by the Premier, we would prefer Federal Government to actually make the decision about the issue itself.”

Labor’s Deputy Leader Roger Cook said the proposal for a February poll showed how out of touch the Turnbull government was with Western Australia. Cook said it was time the Prime Minister stepped forward and legislated for marriage equality.

“What Malcolm Turnbull should have done, of course, is do what all modern leaders are doing, which is stepping forward and making the right decisions to legislate to put marriage equality in place,” Cook said.

“We don’t need to spend $160 million of taxpayers money on a plebiscite which is only going to bring division and discontent.”

OIP Staff



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