Independent Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest (pictured) has indicated she will move a motion on Tuesday, October 15 to gauge whether there is support amongst other MLCs to debate state-based marriage laws for Tasmania when Parliament resumes in under two weeks.
The move comes ahead of a report from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute, to be released next week, that will provide new information on the constitutional concerns raised by members in the last debate in Tasmania’s parliament just over 12 months ago, which saw same-sex marriage laws fail to pass the Upper House with a vote of six-to-eight against.
Forrest also wants her Upper House colleagues to analyse a recent New South Wales parliamentary inquiry, which ruled that states do have the power to introduce their own same-sex marriage laws.
“It is not support for the bill but respect for the process, that this information that was needed last time is now available, and we give it another chance,” Forrest said.
Responding to Forrest’s announcement, Independent MLC Rosemary Armitage told the ABC that she was not particularly swayed by the new developments.
“It should be left in the federal arena and perhaps we should be dealing at the moment with a lot of the legislation we actually have before us on the books,” Armitage said.
Windermere MLC Ivan Dean told The Examiner that he too was also against a re-examination of the issue.
“I realise that other people have looked at this and other lawyers have a position on this issue, and it is so much up in the air that nobody knows what is going on, but without a doubt, it is a federal issue,” Dean said.
“We have dealt with this matter not that long ago, and it should not be coming back now.”
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has also voiced its opposition, with the ACL’s Tasmanian director, Mark Brown, saying it was “legislation by fatigue” and voters wanted to move on.
“Tasmania has an economy in dire straits and yet some of our politicians are more interested in a third go at euthanasia, a second go at same-sex marriage and a draconian abortion bill,” he said.
“There is no new information from New South Wales – the legal advice remains the same. It is likely that any attempt to usurp Commonwealth power over marriage will end up being tested in the High Court.”
Advocates with Australian Marriage Equality and local gay activists, however, welcomed the moves to bring the issue back for debate.
“In the last 12 months new information has come forward that directly addresses and clarifies concerns made in the legislative debate last year,” Tasmanians United for Marriage Equality convener, Andrew Badcock, said.
“We respectfully urge the legislative councillors to support the motion and examine recent developments and information continually being made available.”
It is believed if a marriage equality bill is debated and passed in Tasmania’s Upper House, it is likely to be successfully passed by the Lower House and turned into law by the end of the year.