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Labor and Liberals fail to find common ground on plebiscite

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Labor’s Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus and Assistant Shadow Minister for Equality Terri Butler have met with Attorney General George Brandis and Special Minister for State Scott Ryan to find out more about the government’s plebiscite plan.

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The government needs the Labor Party’s support to pass the legislation to run the plebiscite, without their support the legislation will not make it through the upper house.

Labor are set to discuss their options at a caucus meeting next week but senior members of the party have indicated they are unlikely to offer support.

Speaking to the media after their meeting this morning Mark Dreyfus said the proposal for a plebiscite was a political move designed to stop marriage equality occurring in Australia.

“This plebiscite is setting marriage equality up to fail.” Dreyfus said. “That was its purpose, no one should think that it was produced by those that want marriage equality to come about in this country. The pursuit of this plebiscite is because this government is setting marriage equality up to fail.”

Mark Dreyfus said his party was ready to talk to anyone who was ready to see marriage equality realised in Australia but said the correct pathway was via a vote in parliament.

“We think the marriage equality is going to be brought about by a vote in the parliament, by parliamentarians doing the job that we are paid to do, doing the job are elected to do.”

Mr Dreyfus said the government had nothing to offer at their meeting to convince him to support the plebiscite proposal. His colleague Terri Butler described the meeting as adding “insult to injury”.

“They’ve come to meet with us without anything really to say at all about even if it was a good idea to have the plebiscite” Butler said. “The model they’ve put to the people could be improved.”

Butler described the meeting as disappointing and said the right wing of the Liberal party was hard to kibosh marriage equality.

The Labor representatives said Senator George Brandis was unable to articulate what changes to the plan may be acceptable to the Liberal party room.

Senator Brandis has told the media that the ball is now in the Labor Party’s court but he was disappointed with how Dreyfus and Butler has approached the meeting.

‘I made it clear to Mr Dreyfus and to Ms Butler that the purpose of the meeting was to seek common ground and to discover from them what the Labor Party’s position was in relation to the plebiscite bill,’ the Attorney General said.

‘That is what I sought when I looked Mr Dreyfus in the eye and I said to him, “What is your position, what will it take to get the Labor Party to agree to this plebiscite bill?”

‘I can’t hide my disappointment every time there was refusal to state the Labor Party’s position.’

In an interview published earlier today Senator Brandis said if Labor failed to support the government’s plebisicte plan marriage equality would have to wait until the 2020s.

Liberal colleague Steve Chiobo, who is opposed to changing the marriage laws,  told ABC Radio ahead of the meeting that he believed the Labor party were looking down their noses at the Australian people.

“Australians are capable of having mature and rational discussions. We don’t need the Labor Party looking down their nose at the population of Australia and basically saying ‘look, you’re all too immature to have a conversation in a respectful tone’ — that is not the case,” Mr Ciobo said.

OIP Staff

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