Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull introduces plebiscite bill

 

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has introduced the Government’s bill to enable a plebiscite on marriage equality in the House of Representatives today.

Speaking to the Lower House, the Prime Minister said the Coalition will stand by it’s election commitment to put the issue of marriage equality to the Australian people.

“It is thoroughly democratic. Every Australian will have their say, and if the Opposition support the plebiscite in the Senate, the plebiscite can be held on February 11, which is the soonest practicable date,” Turnbull said.

“We have to respect there are sincerely held views on this issue. They are views very often informed by deeply felt conscience, informed by religious commitment very often, informed by faith.”

The PM said the criticisms that the public vote is both costly and irregular in the context of our parliamentary history “are valid”, but the government had considered them and decided to move forward with the plebiscite.

Mr Turnbull denounced the notion that Australians could not have a civil and rational debate on marriage equality.

“[It] insults the Australians. It disrespects the Australians,” he said.

“Their answer will be the right answer.”

The Prime Minister quoted former Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking against making changes to the Marriage Act, asking the house whether or not she was denounced by her colleagues as homophobic.

“What would have happened if the Labor Party had said, “Let’s have a plebiscite.” Of course the supporters of the same-sex marriage would have welcomed it, they would have welcomed it, because at that time there was certainly not the numbers in the Parliament for it to be passed.”

Mr Turnbull reasserted that a plebiscite on marriage equality was an election commitment that will be honoured.

“What we have to recollect is this is a commitment we took to the election, a commitment we will honour and are honouring now. It is a commitment that respects the will of the Australian people.”

 

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