George Brandis reveals his proposal for the plebiscite

George BrandisAttorney General George Brandis has shed some light on what the proposed plebiscite might look like.

Appearing on the ABC program ‘Insiders’ Senator Brandis told host Fran Kelly how he hoped the plebiscite would operate.

Senator Brandis said he hoped to take the proposal to cabinet within the next few weeks. The AG said he believed the question put to the people over marriage equality should be as simple as possible.

The senator said he was still hopeful that the vote could be held before the end of 2016, but would wait to hear advice from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

The government’s new Special Minister for State, Scott Ryan will be meeting the AEC to discuss the practicalities of running a plebiscite. ┬áThe AEC previously told a senate inquiry that it would take a minimum of three months to prepare for a vote.

If the vote could not be held in 2016, Senator Brandis said it would be held very early in the new year, echoing comments made earlier in the week by the Prime Minister.

Senator Brandis said he hoped the results would be counted on an electorate by electorate basis similar to a federal election, not a majority of votes in a majority of states – as required by a referendum. Voting in the plebiscite would be compulsory for all Australians.

Despite recent polling showing a significant drop in support for the plebiscite, Senator Brandis said it was the “only way forward”.

To enable to plebiscite the government will first need to get it’s own party to agree to the proposed legislation required to run the national vote. Marriage Equality advocates have expressed concern that the conservative wing of the coalition will attempt to delay the vote, or push for a biased question.

The legislation will then have to pass parliament where the government faces potential opposition from Labor, The Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team who all oppose the plebiscite.

Newly installed minor party One Nation has voiced its preference for a referendum over a plebiscite. One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has said her belief is the rules for marriage need to be added to the constitution.

If government funding was to be given to the alternative ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns, Senator Brandis said the amounts should be equal.

Last year there were suggestion that the funding provided to the campaign for traditional marriage should be greater than the funding to marriage equality advocates.

Nick Cater, head of the Menzies Institute, appeared on The Bolt Report and suggested that because less people support retaining the current definition of marriage, the campaign to preserve the status quo would need greater funding.

OIP Staff


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