A day after the first sitting Australian Prime Minister attended the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade, word from Malcolm Turnbull’s Government suggested a same-sex marriage plebiscite could occur before the end of the year.
Attorney-General George Brandis said the government would hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage before the end of the year if it won the federal election expected late this year.
Speaking on Sky News on Sunday morning Senator Brandis said, if there was support for it, the Coalition government would quickly introduce changes to the Marriage Act that he expected would become law “by the end of the year”.
Following an appearance at the Mardi Gras last night by Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy, the Prime Minister’s office distanced itself from the speedy timetable later in the day.
A spokeswoman for Mr Turnbull said that the government was committed to holding the plebiscite “as soon after the election as can be done”.
The Australian Electoral Commission last year warned a public vote on same-sex marriage should not be rushed.
And if an election is held as in October, as Mr Turnbull has suggested in previous statements, it is difficult to see how Senator Brandis’ timetable could be met.
In verbal evidence to a Senate inquiry last year into a popular vote on marriage laws, Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said three months would be required to organise a public vote.
The Federal Opposition has accused Mr Turnbull of failing to stand up to his party’s “rabid” conservatives by pursuing the plebiscite, which would cost an estimated $160 million, rather than pursue a change in legislation.
“The majority of Australians support same-sex marriage and want it legislated without delay”, Leader Mr Bill Shorten said.
Shorten and Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek marched in the annual parade last night as did Greens Leader Richard De Natalie.
An estimated 200,000 people looked on as the biggest and longest parade in recent years, made up of 178 floats and 12,500 participants, marched, rolled and danced through the heart of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian district.
Reflecting on last night’s parade, Mardi Gras CEO Michele Bauer said, “The combined efforts of everyone involved delivered a stand out Parade. The enthusiasm of all the parade participants made for a truly wonderful experience.”
“While we celebrated the victories, we also had a number of floats dedicated to issues prevalent in society today. Homelessness in the LGBTQI community, refugees, marriage equality and the recognition of transgender rights were all represented widely in this year’s parade.”
Last Updated on Mar 7, 2016
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