D-DAY FOR VOTE ON MAR­RIAGE

Quick turn­around if Yes vote wins

Herald Sun - - NEWS - TOM MINEAR tom.minear@news.com.au

AUS­TRALIANS will learn to­day whether same-sex mar­riage will be le­galised.

If the Yes vote in the $122 mil­lion postal plebiscite has won, mar­riage re­form should be a re­al­ity by year’s end, Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull said yes­ter­day.

More than 12.6 mil­lion peo­ple voted in the postal sur­vey, and fi­nal polling num­bers sug­gest that as many as 63 per cent backed change.

De­bate on leg­is­la­tion to pave the way for same-sex cou­ples to marry from next year could be­gin as soon as to­mor­row. Mr Turn­bull said ev­ery MP would be free to move amend­ments to Lib­eral se­na­tor Dean Smith’s Bill, and vote their con­science.

The Bill, which has La­bor, Green, and cross­bench co-sig­na­to­ries, is ex­pected to have the num­bers to pass Par­lia­ment by De­cem­ber 7.

The PM slapped down Vic­to­rian Lib­eral se­na­tor James Pater­son’s al­ter­na­tive Bill, backed by con­ser­va­tive MPs, which would al­low bak­ers, florists, pho­tog­ra­phers and oth­ers to refuse ser­vice to same-sex wed­dings while rolling back anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion pro­vi­sions to pro­vide le­gal cover to re­li­gious op­po­nents.

It had “vir­tu­ally no prospect” of pass­ing Par­lia­ment, and he said: “I don’t be­lieve Aus­tralians would wel­come, and cer­tainly the Gov­ern­ment does not — would not — coun­te­nance, mak­ing le­gal dis­crim­i­na­tion that is il­le­gal, that is un­law­ful, to­day.”

Prais­ing the “amaz­ing” 80 per cent voter turnout, he said “the poll­sters will be re­ally rocked” if the Yes vote fails. “We said we would give ev­ery­one a say, and we did.”

Mr Turn­bull said the de­bate, sched­uled for the fort­night from November 27, would be “free-flow­ing” and “Par­lia­ment at its best”.

“Each House will vote on the amend­ments and vote on the Bill, and it is my be­lief that the Par­lia­ment will duly re­solve, if the peo­ple have voted Yes, to le­galise same-sex mar­riage be­fore we get up at the end of the year,” the PM said.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten said he had his “fin­gers and toes crossed” that the Yes vote would tri­umph in the postal sur­vey, which he said had left Aus­tralians “fed up with this de­bate”.

He of­fered to work with the PM to “make mar­riage equal­ity a re­al­ity as soon as pos­si­ble”.

“To­gether we will give the num­bers, along with those in the gov­ern­ment who sup­port it, to stare down the con­ser­va­tives seek­ing to de­lay mar­riage equal­ity. Enough is enough.

“Let’s just get it done and get it done quickly,” he said.

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