Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that if the same-sex marriage postal survey resulted in a majority ‘no’ vote, the Coalition would discard gay marriage as an election issue.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who pushed for a postal survey after the Senate blocked the same-sex marriage plebiscite bill, said if the survey failed to produce a ‘yes’ outcome, the government would not try to change the law.
“If the ‘no’ vote is successful … this matter is at an end for the Liberal Party … there will be no change to the existing law,” Mr Dutton told Sky News.
The Prime Minister, who is well known to be a supporter of the ‘yes’ campaign, claimed he “absolutely” agreed with Mr Dutton.
“It’s very straightforward,” he told Brisbane’s 4BC Radio on Tuesday.
“If there is a ‘yes’ vote then we’ll facilitate a private member’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage, and if there’s a ‘no’ vote, we won’t. That’s it.
“If the people have spoken against it, we won’t be proposing it at the next election I can assure you.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has pledged to introduce a same-sex marriage bill to Parliament if Labor wins the next election, regardless of the postal survey result.
Mr Turnbull said there were two bills outlining religious protections in the event of a ‘yes’ vote.
Marriage celebrants, for example, would be able to opt out of marrying same-sex couples if they so desire.
“Overwhelmingly Australians are sensible, respectful people. This is a very important social issue and we’re giving everyone a say,” he said.
“The protection of religious freedoms is set out in that exposure draft. People will have different views. It is a matter for Parliament then to legislate.
“I’m very confident that the bill for same-sex marriage will be legalised, and then you will then see the focus on the Parliament being on the detail and it will then turn around.”
NSW Premier breaks ranks with church
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced she will be voting ‘yes’, placing her views at odds with that of her ethnic church.
Ms Berejiklian, who was born to Armenian immigrants and regularly attends church events, said same-sex marriage was a “no brainer”.
The Armenian Apostolic Church of Holy Resurrection in Chatswood – where her parents were married – warned its Facebook followers their faith was “under fire” in the survey.
It said redefining marriage would have “consequences” for religious freedom, free speech and children’s education.
Nishan Basmajian, the executive officer of Australia and New Zealand Diocese of the Armenian Church, said his organisation respected gay people but were “against same-sex marriage”.
“Through our Christian values and Christian education we don’t see those values are respected [in same-sex marriage],” he said.
“I don’t know what the Premier thinks, but as a church we adhere to our Christian values.”
But Ms Berejiklian is not being swayed by her church’s stance.
“There is no doubt that there are people out there in the community with conservative views, there are people out there with different religious beliefs and faiths,” she said.
“We respect all of that, especially with someone like myself with my own personal background.
“I’m hoping that all of us will look back and feel incredibly proud that we were part of something special, that we put aside all of our different political views and came together in supporting our colleagues, in supporting our community, in supporting what is one of the most important decisions of our time, I believe, in terms of human rights.”
Ballot papers are due back on October 27, with the result to be announced on November 15.
– with ABC