After a partyroom meeting yesterday the Turnbull government has decided it will make another attempt to push for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, after a handful of MPs advocating for a free vote were voted down by their colleagues.
Only seven Liberal MPs voted to abandon the plebiscite in favour of a free vote, with four times as many against, over the course of a two-hour meeting.
If it fails – again – the government has said it is sure it can legally conduct a voluntary postal ballot without legislation, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
A postal plebiscite will reportedly cost over $40 million.
A number of rogue MPs who have pushed for a free vote will advocate for a marriage equality bill that was drafted by Senator Dean Smith, with four Liberal MPs needing to cross the floor in voting for the bill for it to be successful.
Smith has called a postal plebiscite “useless” and “a D-grade response to a defining A-grade social issue”.
Liberal MP Warren Entsch said all he wanted was a vote in parliament, the same as on other issues including when the Marriage Act was changed in 2004.
“That’s all I want and I will respect the outcome of that vote,” said Entsch.
Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm said marriage equality advocates should consider the numbers before rejecting the idea of a plebiscite.
“I am not at all confident it will get through parliament on a free vote, whereas I am totally confident it will be accepted after a plebiscite,” he said.
Co-Chair of Australian Marriage Equality, Alex Greenwich, said the national campaign has resolved to maintain its commitment to fight the plebiscite in any form.
“The plebiscite is a failed policy rejected by the parliament and the postal plebiscite is a flawed policy,” he said.
“LGBTI Australians, their family, friends and colleagues will be disappointed tonight but our campaign will not stop just because their government has failed us.”
Many members of the LGBTI community have taken to social media to vent their frustrations over the government’s decision to both reintroduce a plebiscite and push for a postal ballot.
— Janet Rice (@janet_rice) August 7, 2017
i will accept a postal ssm plebiscite if in return they give us a grindr referendum about taking away marriage from straight people
— thomas violence (@thomas_violence) August 7, 2017
.@TurnbullMalcolm Maybe put the plebiscite money into refugee aid & legalise gay marriage so queers & refugees will stop dying on your watch
— Rhys Nicholson (@rhysnicholson) August 7, 2017
Politics fails in many ways but it's farcical that our government needs a postal poll to MAYBE recognise (marriage) equality before the law.
— Senthorun Raj (@senthorun) August 7, 2017
Tonight, Malcolm Turnbull broke the nation's heart #MarriageEquality
— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) August 7, 2017
If I had $40 million I would definitely spend it by mailing out little cards asking the public if they think gay people are human beings
— Deirdre (@figgled) August 7, 2017