Same-sex marriage by Christmas, PM vows
AUSTRALIA: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants federal parliament to approve same-sex marriage laws before Christmas after Australians delivered their ‘‘unequivocal’’ approval in a voluntary postal survey.
‘‘It is our job now to get on with it, and get this done,’’ Turnbull said yesterday, shortly after the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced a 61.6 per cent ‘‘yes’’ vote.
‘‘I say to all Australians, whatever your views on this issue may be, we must respect the voice of the people. We asked them for their opinion, and they have given it to us. It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming.’’
A majority ‘‘yes’’ vote was recorded in 133 of the 150 federal electorates across the country. Every state and territory recorded a majority ‘‘yes’’ result except for New South Wales, which returned less than 60 per cent approval.
More than 12.7 million people - nearly 80 per cent of eligible voters - took part in the survey. Of those, 7.8 million voted yes and 4.9 million said no.
Parliamentary debate to legalise same-sex marriage could begin as early as today.
Tears of joy flowed at Prince Alfred Park in central Sydney as thousands of equality supporters learned the result of the postal vote. Singer John Paul Young launched into his hit Love Is In The Air as couples kissed and friends embraced.
As bottles of champagne were popped and rainbow flags flew high, Equality Campaign organiser Alex Greenwich told the crowd it had just experienced a huge moment in history. ‘‘We will reflect on this day as a day that has truly made our country proud,’’ he said.
In Melbourne, a crowd of thousands who packed the lawns outside the State Library erupted with screams of joy as champagne corks exploded into the sky.
Labor Party leader Bill Shorten addressed the crowd, yelling ‘‘yes, yes, yes’’. He said ‘‘unconditional love always has the last word’’, and apologised to the community for having to endure the postal survey. – AAP
Calm down, says absent PM
Ten days after his surprise resignation plunged Lebanon into crisis and raised fears of regional turmoil, Prime Minister Saad Hariri yesterday called on everyone to ‘‘chill’’. In his first personal tweet since travelling to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, where he announced he would step down in a pre-recorded message that led many to think he was being held against his will, Hariri said he planned to return to Lebanon in the next two days. ‘‘People, I am fine. And God willing, I will come back in a couple of days. Let’s chill.’’ Hariri wrote, adding that he was in good shape. President Michel Aoun has refused to accept Hariri’s resignation and has urged him to come home.
Roving gunman shot dead
A gunman killed four people and injured two children in a shooting rampage in northern California’s Tehama County yesterday before he was fatally shot by law enforcement. Authorities described a chaotic scene in which a gunman in a stolen car appeared to pick targets at random in the rural county. They said the shootings appeared to have begun as a ‘‘domestic violence incident’’, but did not provide details. The Tehama County sheriff’s office said it was dealing with seven crime scenes and that 10 victims were being treated for injuries.
New hope for bananas
The multibillion-dollar global banana industry, at risk from a deadly disease, could be saved by a scientific breakthrough by an Australian university. The Queensland University of Technology has genetically modified Cavendish bananas using a wild gene, resulting in strongly resistant and Panama (TR4) disease-free plants across a three-year trial. Trial leader Professor James Dale said it was a major step towards protecting the US$12 billion (NZ$17.5b) Cavendish global export business. ‘‘TR4 can remain in the soil for more than 40 years, and there is no effective chemical control for it. It is a huge problem,’’ he said. The disease has devastated Cavendish plantations in many parts of the world and is spreading rapidly across Asia, and was found at a far north Queensland farm earlier this year.
Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate outside the State Library in Melbourne after the result of the postal survey - a 61.6 per cent ‘‘yes’’ vote - is announced. Australia’s federal parliament is set to debate a law change.