Peter Dutton against decision making via postal surveys in the future

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton has declared the government’s decision to use a national postal survey was a great success, but also argues it should not be used in the future to decide other issues.

Dutton, one of the architects of the ‘postal plebiscite’ has penned an opinion piece for Farifax Media describing the Turnbull government’s decision to hold the expensive postal survey as a great success. The Minister however wants the option of postal votes to be ruled out any future political debates.

The minister dismisses many of the common criticisms of the postal survey process including it being an abrogation of parliamentary responsibility. He also dismisses concerns that the process was likely to see an increase in psychological distress and self harm among LGBTI people.

In his piece Dutton says, “the reason is the nature of this issue and the significance of a proposal to fundamentally change a social foundation stone that dictated the break-glass option of the postal plebiscite.  The postal plebiscite is not a tool for garden variety issues of public policy.”

Dutton says that while many people have an interest in public policy most Australians are generally not interested, and the high turn out for the postal survey is proof that this was indeed a special issue.

Describing the option of a free vote in parliament as a “shabby” choice, Dutton says it would have left those who voted ‘no’ in the survey feeling ripped off. Dutton says a free vote could never have been an option for the government because ‘No’ voters are more likely to support the coalition.

While the minister claims the postal survey process was “largely respectful”. A new survey of 9,500 LGBTI people has revealed that 90 per cent of them felt the process had some negative impact on their lives.

The research conducted by the Australia Institute and National LGBTI Health Alliance showed that abuse an insults directed at LGBTI people doubled in the period the postal survey was conducted, in comparison to the previous three month period.

Almost 70 per cent of people who took part in the survey said they avoided being around other people as a coping mechanism during the postal survey period. Almost 80% of the LGBTI people surveyed reported increased levels of stress and anxiety.

Rebecca Reynolds, the Executive Director of the National LGBTI Health Alliance said people had found the postal survey process to be exhausting.

“The public debate over the equality of our bodies, relationships and feelings has been exhausting and frequently painful.” Reynolds said.

Similar findings were reported after the Irish referendum on marriage equality.

OIP Staff

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