Peter Dutton argues for postal plebiscite

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has renewed his push for a postal plebiscite to decide the issue of marriage equality.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that a postal plebiscite delivers the same policy intent as a plebiscite proper.” Dutton said during an interview with SKY News this morning.

“The plebiscite proper can’t get through the senate, The Greens, Labor Party, Nick Xenophon, won’t support it, so we’re left with that reality.

“Now, you can either sit there and do nothing, or pretend that that hasn’t happened, but that’s my sense of the next best option, the postal plebiscite.”

Dutton said he believed their was broader support for the postal plan because it didn’t need legislation to be passed to enact the process and he hoped that the Nick Xenophon Team would show support for the proposal.

Dutton’s renewed support for the alternative plebiscite pathway follows a motion from Queensland’s NLP Conference calling on the federal parliament to adopt the idea.

Queensland MP Barry O’Sullivan has declared that he’ll use “all avenues available” to push forward the postal plebiscite plan.

O’Sullivan has denied the push for a postal plan is not attempt to head off a proposal from WA Senator Dean Smith who is developing a private member’s bill for marriage equality and advocates for a free vote on the issue.

National party MP George Christensen has also voiced his support for the postal plebiscite telling Fairfax Media it would allow the coalition to meet it’s election promise and at the same time reduce the costs of the exercise.

“There is no reason we can’t move to fulfil the election commitment with a voluntary plebiscite on the issue and to keep costs down with a postal vote.

“This is the only way we can fulfil our promise and get the issue off the table.” Christensen told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten commented on the postal plebiscite during an interview on the ABC’s Insiders dismissing the idea.

“We’re contorting ourselves about having a plebiscite on marriage equality when the LGBTI community says ‘Why do we have to have a separate law making process for us?'”

Shorten also commented on the plan via his Twitter account, had said the government didn’t have the courage to do the right thing.

“The postal plebiscite is a policy for a government that has neither the intellect to know what to do, nor the courage to do what is right,” Shorten tweeted.

The Green’s spokesperson on sexuality Senator Janet Rice tweeted her advice to the Immigration Minister saying it was time to let go of the plebiscite idea.

“The plebiscite is over. Let it go, Dutton. Parliament should do its job and remove discrimination once and for all.” Senator Rice wrote.

Marriage Equality advocates have argued against the idea since it was reintroduced to the debate via the Queensland LNP Conference last week.

The Equality Campaign described the proposal as a subversion of the role of the parliament and that would only prolong a debate the public wants resolved through a parliamentary vote.

Alex Greenwich, chair of Marriage Equality Australia, said the plan was a pointless political trick.

“The Senate has said no to a plebiscite, and along with the High Court of Australia made it crystal clear the only way to deliver marriage equality is through a vote in parliament.

“Any attempt to hold a non-binding and voluntary postal plebiscite will be seen as a pointless political trick to override role of the parliament and delay the settled will of the Australian people.

“Twenty four million Australians can’t fit inside the parliament, that is why our elected parliamentarians are there. The recent Senate Inquiry delivered a pathway that was fair for every Australian whilst having no impact on the religious celebration of marriage,” Greenwich said.

Tiernan Brady, Executive Director, The Equality Campaign said the government should see marriage equality as a way to create unity in society instead of division.

“Marriage Equality can and should be a moment of national unity. It takes from no one but will have a profoundly positive impact on gay and lesbian Australians and their families and friends.”

“An unnecessary postal plebiscite of questionable legality will create social division rather than the type of social unity and celebration that we have seen in other countries across the world, most recently in Germany and Malta.”

“Telling one group of people that their rights cannot be decided by parliament but instead have to be decided by a separate process sends a clear and terrible message to Australians that LGBTI people have to reach a higher bar for their dignity. This is a dangerous precedent for all of society.” Brady said.



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