News National Labor opens talks on same-sex marriage bill

Labor opens talks on same-sex marriage bill

Same-sex couples across Australia will, within hours, be able to say "I do" and be legally married. Photo: Getty
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Labor has laid out a number of starting points for negotiations on the Government’s stalled plan to hold a same-sex marriage plebiscite ahead of a meeting with the Attorney-General.

George Brandis has invited shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus to Brisbane on Monday to discuss the Government’s plan to hold the national vote.

The Coalition cannot find enough support on the crossbench to get a bill to hold the plebiscite through Parliament, and has turned to Labor for backing.

Last week, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten indicated he would advise caucus colleagues to reject the bill to hold the plebiscite, arguing against spending $170 million on the public vote when the matter could be settled by the Parliament.

His position to block the plebiscite hardened after the Coalition agreed to internal pressure to allow taxpayer funds to be spent on multi-million dollar campaigns for and against same-sex marriage.

Mr Dreyfus said Labor was prepared to listen to what the Government has to offer in next week’s meeting.

“It’s for Senator Brandis and Mr Turnbull to say to us, well actually we’re prepared to modify this plebiscite in some way,” Mr Dreyfus said.

Mr Dreyfus pointed to two options, scrapping public funding for the campaign and making the legislation “self-executing” so a public vote in favour of same-sex marriage would be automatically backed by the Parliament.

The shadow minister said he was doubtful the Prime Minister would secure support from conservative elements of his party to make the compromises.

“At the moment, I’ve seen nothing, nothing at all which suggests that there’s any room from the right wing of the Liberal Party — who’ve driven this from the start — for compromise.”