News National Labor block ‘expensive, divisive’ same-sex plebiscite
Updated:

Labor block ‘expensive, divisive’ same-sex plebiscite

Bill Shorten claimed the caucus vote had been unanimous. Photo: AAP
Share
Tweet Share Reddit Pin Email Comment

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has declared that an “expensive, divisive” plebiscite on same-sex marriage would hurt gay people, and confirmed that Labor will vote against it.

The Federal Government’s planned national vote now appears doomed, after Labor’s caucus confirmed its opposition today.

A meeting at Parliament House this morning saw MPs and senators vote unanimously to block the bill establishing the plebiscite.

“The experts have unequivocally explained to Labor that the plebiscite would cause harm to gay and lesbian people — particularly, but not exclusively, young people,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said.

Attorney-General George Brandis earlier on Tuesday urged the Opposition to change course.

“We could have this outcome four months from today if the Labor Party put the political games aside,” he said.

The Coalition is still expected to introduce the legislation, despite lacking the numbers in the Senate.

“Having met these families, having listened to their stories, I could not in good conscience recommend to the Labor Party that we support the plebiscite about marriage equality.

“The Labor Party, therefore, will in Parliament oppose Malcolm Turnbull’s expensive, divisive plebiscite.”

The Greens and a number of balance-of-power Senate crossbenchers have also pledged to block the enabling legislation, meaning it will not pass Parliament.

The compulsory Australia-wide ballot on whether to allow same-sex couples to marry was set to happen in February next year.

The Opposition criticised the plebiscite for months and its decision today was widely expected.

Labor is expected to keep pressing for a free vote in Parliament on whether to legalise same-sex marriage.

But a number of senior Government ministers have made it clear that will not happen.

Coalition still expected to introduce legislation

Nationals MP Andrew Broad this morning threatened to withdraw his support for the Government if it allowed gay couples to marry without holding the plebiscite.

“The Government that I am a part of, and will remain a part of, is conditional upon the fact that the only way that there will be a change to the Marriage Act in this Parliament is a plebiscite,” the Member for the Victorian seat of Mallee said.

“I’m making it very clear here: my support for the Government is that we honour our election commitment, that we ask the Australian people for their say on this issue.”

Attorney-General George Brandis earlier on Tuesday urged the Opposition to change course.

“We could have this outcome four months from today if the Labor Party put the political games aside,” he said.

Conservative Queensland LNP member George Christensen this morning said he would be somewhat pleased if the plebiscite was blocked.

“On one hand, I suppose I would be pleased,” he said.

“On the other hand, it really is the Labor Party depriving the Australian people of a say.”

The Coalition is still expected to introduce the legislation, despite lacking the numbers in the Senate.

– ABC

Comments
View Comments