Postal plebiscite idea criticised by all sides of politics

The idea of deciding Australia’s long running marriage equality debate by a opt-in postal plebiscite has been criticised by politicians on both sides of the political spectrum.

Liberal Senator Dean Smith, who is working on a private members bill for same-sex marriage, has described the idea as “corrosive”.

Speaking to ABC radio this morning, Senator Smith voiced his opposition to the proposal.

“We have had two binding plebiscites previously in 1916 (and) 1917. They were acrimonious and they divided communities,” Senator Smith told ABC radio.

“Postal plebiscites, national plebiscites are corrosive to our representative parliamentary democracy.”

Senator Smith has previously detailed his opposition to a plebiscite noting it’s rare use in the Australian democratic process.

Queensland LNP member Warren Enstch told The Guardian that the idea didn’t have merit.

“The fact that a plebiscite of any form, whether it be postal or otherwise, is not binding I think really puts the final nail in the coffin in relation to any concept of a plebiscite and that’s not going to change with a … postal plebiscite,” Enstch said.

The MP, who supports marriage equality, said he had considered the idea in the past because it was much cheaper than the $180 million required for a traditional voting process, but had discarded the idea after he realised it created “a legal black hole”.

Labor’s Shadow Finance Minister Dr Jim Chalmers has described the plan as farcical. Speaking on the ABC’s PM program on Monday night the MP said it was time for the government to allow a free vote in parliament.

“We went from wasting $180 million dollars on the plebiscite that wouldn’t even bind the Turnbull government, now we’ve got this hair-brained idea of a postal ballot, which is basically a big opinion poll. I just think this is a farce.”

“The Australian people pay us to go into the parliament and put our hand up for the issues we believe in, I believe in marriage equality. I want to see it a reality sooner rather than later. We need to get this done, it’s an important change we should be able to make as a country.” Dr Chalmers said.

The Greens’ Robert Simms, who is currently standing as a candidate for the next South Australian election, described the proposal as a “brain fart”.

“I think its an absolutely crazy idea. You know, I’ve heard some pretty mad ideas come out of the Liberal party but this latest brain fart really takes the cake. A crazy idea.

“This isn’t something like the Logies where you just have a bunch of randoms who can send in a postal ballot. Its people’s lives.” Simms said speaking to SKY News.

OIP Staff

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