THE Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has denied it met with Federal Attorney-General George Brandis to plan a ‘no’ campaign strategy ahead of a plebiscite on marriage equality.

Crikey reported it had filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to find out what Brandis and the ACL specifically discussed in meetings before the election was announced in May.

Brandis also met with the Catholic Church and Australian Marriage Equality (AME) to discuss the plebiscite.

The Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) denied Crikey access to the information, stating it could not be released as there were still “a range of issues surrounding the plebiscite that are yet to be resolved and that remain under consideration by government”.

“It is important that government is able to explore a range of options for issues relating to the plebiscite fully and frankly, and that the government is able to engage with a range of stakeholders in seeking views on issues relating to the plebiscite,” AGD’s acting assistant secretary Sue Harris told Crikey.

“I consider that disclosing this information would limit the government’s ability to fully and frankly explore particular issues relating to the plebiscite, and as such it would not be in the public interest to disclose this information at this time.”

ACL’s managing director Lyle Shelton told Star Observer the group had not met with Brandis or any member of government to strategise an effective ‘no’ campaign, and that a plebiscite should only happen after all stakeholders had been consulted.

“But ACL, along with others committed to preserving the definition of marriage, met with the Minister as part of his preliminary consultations prior to the election campaign,” he said.

“We will be participating in the democratic process (ahead of the plebiscite).

“It is important that it is not rushed and that the necessary consultations with both sides are completed. It is important that the Australian people have the opportunity to hear the other side of the debate.”

AME chair Alex Greenwich said they had also been working with a number of people in Canberra ahead of the plebiscite.

“We are working with people across the political spectrum to ensure we have a fair and consultative process for achieving marriage equality,” he said.

“Whatever process we face, we encourage all supporters of marriage equality to engage with the elected senators and MPs to deliver a parliamentary path to achieving marriage equality and a fair go for every Australian.”

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