PM says postal survey’s lack of legal protections is not a concern

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dismissed concerns that the proposed postal survey to gauge the nation’s appetite for marriage equality will not have the legal protections of a regular election process.

The government has announced that their postal plebiscite will be deployed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), rather than the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

The decision to utilise the ABS means that lobbyists on both sides of the argument will not be required to be truthful in their advertising campaigns and will be allowed to distribute misleading and deceptive campaign materials.

It is believed that the ABS will release a list of regulations on how the campaigns should be conducted but there will most likely be no legal consequence for not adhering to the rules.

Senator Mathis Cormann who is the Acting Special Minister of State told ABC Radio that LGBT people who not have protections from the campaign materials beyond the usual provisions within the law.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was asked about the lack of protection during Question Time in parliament this afternoon.

Responding to Labor’s Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek, Turnbull told parliament that it important that every Australian had a chance to voice their opinion.

“The survey will give…every single Australian their say. It will be conducted in accordance with the law, it will give every Australian their say and I encourage to exercise their right and have their say.”

Following a ‘Dorthy-Dixer’ from his own side of the house, Plibersek took a second stab at getting the PM to address the issue.

“The protections that will be in place for the postal plebiscite will include all the protections under the telecommunications legislation which makes it an offence to tamper with the mail.

“It will be covered by the protections under the census and statistics act, which makes it an offence to provide false or misleading statements, and of course the criminal code itself provides contains multiple offences that would prohibit a person from interfering with the collection of statistics, including making an offence to obstruct, hinder, intimidate or resist a Commonwealth official in the performance of their functions.”

The Prime Minister said if the opposition was concerned that the postal plebiscite was not be covered by the Electoral act, they should rethink their decision to block plebiscite legislation in the senate.

“If they wanted a compulsory attendance ballot with all of the protections of the electoral act, they should have voted for it.” Turnbull said.

Speaking on SKY News the Liberals’ Dr Andrew Laming said the government had created a hydra, comparing the government’s two pronged approach the force a plebiscite to the mythical beast.

In both Greek and Roman mythology a Hyda is a snakelike creature that guarded the entrance to the underworld. When it’s head is chopped off several more grow back in its place. It was also said to have poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly.

OIP Staff

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