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Prime Minister expects plebiscite to be held this year

Malcolm Turnbull

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told reporters in Sydney that he expects the marriage plebiscite will be held before the end of 2016.

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“We will hold it as soon as possible after the election. Given that the election is on July 2nd, we do have ample time between then and the end of the year. So I would expect it to be held this calendar year,” Turnbull said earlier today.

“But it will be held as soon as practical, as obviously legislation has got to pass through the Parliament so all I can do is give you my commitment to hold a plebiscite as soon as we can and it will be a very straightforward question and we will be asking the Australian people whether they support the definition of marriage being extended to include couples of the same sex.”

Earlier this year Attorney General George Brandis suggested that the plebiscite would be conducted before the end of the year, sparking a backlash from conservative backbenchers. On that occasion the Prime Minister’s office refused to confirm any timing for the national opinion poll.

The Labor Party have vowed to scrap the plebiscite plan if they win government and put forth legislation for marriage equality within the first 100 days of a Shorten Labor government.

This afternoon The Greens said the Prime Minister could deliver marriage equality without the expensive price tag of a plebiscite. The Greens spokesperson for sexuality said there was no need to send Australian back to the polls.

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s comments today would give some Australians the inkling that we could have marriage equality realised by the end of the year – but we can do it without spending $160 million and sending people straight back to the polls after a marathon election campaign.

“This debate has dragged on long enough, and it seems Mr Turnbull won’t be satisfied until LGBTI people are dragged through the mud by the harmful hate campaigns against this community a plebiscite would drum up.” Senator Robert Simms said.

“It’s not too late for him to dump the pointless and costly plebiscite. No more excuses, delays and hiding behind stale old policies – Australians want marriage equality and they want to see this matter dealt with by the parliament, regardless of who is in the lodge.”

Australian Marriage Equality national spokeswoman Shirleene Robinson spoke to The Guardian Australia and said it would be preferable if all parties simply allowed a free vote in parliament to bring about reform.

“Should the Coalition win, we will again urge them to let the parliament achieve the reform, rather than a plebiscite,” she said.

“If they continue with a plebiscite the government should expect that Australians from all walks of life will want us to embrace a fair go and equality for everyone as soon as possible.

“Marriage equality is about members of our families, friends, neighbours and workmates. Backers of marriage equality want to ensure every Australian has the same chances and opportunities in life.” Robinson said.

OIP Staff

 

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