Government seeks legal advice on postal plebiscite

Attorney General George Brandis is seeking legal advice on the possibility of a postal plebiscite after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reportedly told his cabinet colleagues he would not abandon the party’s commitment to hold a national vote on the issue of marriage equality.

A postal plebiscite would be voluntary for the public to participate in, and non-binding for politicians – meaning they could still vote however they wished if the issue ever made it to the voting the in parliament.

The proposal has been championed by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and backed by the recent Liberal National Party conference in his home state of Queensland.

Marriage equality advocates have indicated that if a postal plebiscite is rolled out they will challenge it in the High Court. Constitutional law expert Professor George Williams from the University of New South Wales has publicly spoken about his belief that a postal plebiscite could be challenged legally.

The government’s original plan to hold a national vote of the issue stalled when it was blocked in the senate. Labor, The Greens, The Nick Xenophon Team and Senator Derryn Hinch all voted against the legislation.

None of the politicians opposing the plebiscite have indicated that they’d look more favourably on the latest watered-down proposal. Nick Xenophon has told SKY News that there will be “no shift” in his position, and Labor and The Greens also remain opposed.

Malcolm Turnbull previously argued against postal votes

The government’s decision to push forward with the postal plebiscite idea comes as news site Crikey revealed the Prime Minister had previously written an eloquent opinion piece arguing against their use.

The article uncovered by journalist Josh Taylor shows the Prime Minister describing postal votes with phrases including; “an experiment in electoral science” and “flies in the face of Australian democratic values”.

Malcolm Turnbull previously stated the postal votes are notoriously insecure and because there not filled out in the ballot box people would be pressured by “strong willed friends and family members.”

OIP Staff

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