Opposition Leader Bill Shorten all but voted down the government’s proposed marriage equality plebiscite during a press conference earlier today.
After meeting with Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek and rainbow families in NSW, Shorten reiterated how costly the public vote would be, and how damaging it might be to the mental health of vulnerable LGBTI Australians.
“We’ve seen experts come out in the national media against the plebiscite on the basis of mental health.
“The experts are making it really clear to me that there would be tremendous harm caused by this plebiscite.”
Shorten added that he’s yet to hear a pro-plebiscite argument by someone who is in favour of marriage equality.
“The overwhelming mood I’m picking up on across the nation is – why don’t we just get on with it,” he said.
“The plebiscite is an abdication of responsibility and a shocking waste of money.”
Despite Shorten’s condemnation, he wouldn’t confirm whether or not Labor will oppose Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s plebiscite-enabling legislation when the bill is debated later this month.
However, it is expected that Labor will formally announce and finalise its decision after a caucus meeting next week.
Greens Senator Janet Rice believes the talk of a plebiscite has gone on long enough.
“Mr Shorten says he wants to ‘get on with it’, but we’ve been waiting for weeks to find out his party’s position on a marriage equality plebiscite,” she said.
“Labor must stop playing politics and rule out this divisive opinion poll now.
“We can have wedding bells ringing by the end of the year with a free vote in parliament.”
If Turnbull’s proposed plebiscite goes ahead, it will take place on February 11 next year, with $15 million in shared funding between the “yes” and “no” campaigns.