The plebiscite on same-sex marriage in the parliament might be cancelled, as the Australian Labor party is expected to reject the enabling bill.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten is set to recommend rejecting the bill to Labor caucus and finalise the party’s position on October 10.
The Greens and Nick Xenophon team have promised to block the legislation. “We will be voting against the marriage equality plebiscite, no matter what form it takes, because of the harm that it can potentially do to same-sex attracted and gender diverse Australian,” Greens senator Janet Rice said in a Melbourne conference.
“The best way to achieve marriage equality, the quickest way, the way it should be done is to have a free vote in the parliament and we want to see that free vote to be brought upon as soon as possible.”
If the parliament passes the legislation, the plebiscite would take place on February 11, 2017, with a taxpayer funding of $15 million allocated to “yes” and “no” campaign committees.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned that Labor’s rejection of the plebiscite could result in delays in same-sex marriage legalisation. “If the Labor Party wants to frustrate that, well, all that will mean is that the resolution of the same-sex marriage issue will be postponed potentially for a very long time,” Turnbull told the Financial Review.
Same-sex marriage advocates have said that the legislation is not the best way to legalise same-sex marriage. “This public funding provisions would allow taxpayers funds to be used to attack other Australians with fear campaigns, and is totally unnecessary for achieve a reform that the parliament could deliver now,” Australian Marriage Equality Chair, Alex Greenwich said.
“Earlier [in August] the largest LGBTI community survey of its kind ever conducted found the LGBTI community is united against a plebiscite with opposition running at 85 per cent,” just.equal spokesperson Ivan Hinton-Teoh told Star Observer.
“A key concern of LGBTI Australians is that a plebiscite will be a platform for hate and that it will not actually lead directly to marriage equality.
“I call on Labor and crossbench senators to follow the Greens’ lead so that a plebiscite is blocked and we can have a free vote in Parliament instead.”