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Labor surprised by coalitions sudden willingness for plebisicite compromise

Mark Dreyfus

The government’s plan for a plebiscite on marriage equality still faces an uncertain future.

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The Labor party have not indicated whether they’ll support the legislation and have declared the issue won’t be discussed until their next caucus meeting in three weeks time.

Last week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that they would be willing to make some compromises to get the opposition’s support, a position that was restated by Attorney General George Brandis over the weekend.

“We have a package which was developed after very, very extensive consultation with people who both favour change in the LGBTI community and people who are opposed to change, particularly among the Christian churches,” Senator Brandis told SKY News.

“That said, of course the theme of this Parliament has to be compromise.

“We have to deal with the Parliament that the people gave us and that means, of course, a Parliament where the government has only 30 of the 76 seats in the Senate.”

The Prime Minister’s office have indicated that none of the items already announced in relation to the plebiscite are up for negotiation including the timing, public campaign funds or the question, but the government is willing to consider other issues.

Labor’s shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus (pictured) told ABC radio this morning that it is surprising the coalition is suddenly talking about compromises.

“It’s a surprising sort of overture to suggest they might be open to negotiating when the government’s shown zero interest to negotiating in the 13 months since this plebiscite was first suggested,” Dreyfus told ABC radio this morning.

Dreyfus said the government had not directly contacted Labor with any proposal for compromise despite both the Prime Minister and the Attorney General speaking about it in the media.

Concern has also been raised about the legality of the plebiscite. Constitutional law expert Professor George Williams has suggested that the process may be challenged in the high court as the question put forward by the government is very general in its wording and does not specifically refer to changing the law.

OIP Staff

 

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