Sadly one must conclude that the discussion / debate in relation to Marriage Equality appears to have gone off track. Although it is clear – at least according to the innumerable poles over the last number of years that there is a strong level of public support for the issue. Interestingly it was probably nearly possible in Australia until 2004 when Roxon (ALP) and Rudduck (LNP) proposed changes to the act to ensure that it could not happen. In so doing we happily ignored the clear fact that we were trashing our commitment to the Hague Agreement on the recognition of marriages conducted in other jurisdictions.
Before the last election, and indeed under the regime of the former Prime Minister, a compromise agreed that they would take it to a plebiscite in the next parliament. This was the policy taken. There is of course no need for a plebiscite as there is no constitutional issue here, and the result of the plebiscite, whilst it would democratically be morally binding, it ultimately bears no legal compulsion upon it.
When Turnbull became leader of the Liberal Party, he accepted the policy, and despite having personally supported the matter previously, for peace in the Party he took the plebiscite as part of the policy platform to the next election, which he unconvincingly won.
Bill Shorten then decided to play the wrecking ball role and did not support it in the Senate so effectively stopping the plebiscite from happening.
As a result the LNP has a policy that the ALP will not allow them to enact, and it seems that everyone wants to play football with the issue. The Liberal meeting yesterday re-looked at the issue, and fell in behind the conservative push to maintain the plebiscite policy, adding a backup round of a mailed out optional plebiscite.
The matter leaves many of us – whatever side of the issue we stand – concerned that politicians car not for the people as much as they care about whatever you call the game they are playing in Can(t)berra.
Here are the Numbers from Essential Medias polling July 2017
These results are not surprising, and basically suggest that those in favour is largely strong, those opposed represent a significant part of the community, but by no means a majority, and there is a smaller group who are out to lunch on the issue. The other stats available however are also interesting, from the same report.
It seems that everyone, except the Greens favour a national vote on the matter to settle the matter. I have a view personally that the Parliament should sort it, however, unlike Bill Shorten, I am of a view that the matter should be sorted.
So I am disappointed that the Liberal Party did not decide to try the route of the private members bill. It is clear that there are more than seven Liberal members who are in favour, including Christopher Pine and Malcolm Turnbull. I am also disappointed in Bill Shorten and the ALP on this matter, who seem more interested in the points than the matter. I am also disappointed in the Cross Bench, who should have staved off the demands of the ALP and enabled the will of the people to be either enacted on the basis of what we know, or at the very least tested.