D-DAY FOR VOTE ON MARRIAGE
Quick turnaround if Yes vote wins
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.