Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
New Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has disappointed LGBT Australians by announcing that he’ll stick to his predecessor’s plan to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage.
After being sworn in, Turnbull was asked in Parliament on Tuesday if he would allow MPs in his party to freely vote on the issue, which former Prime Minister Tony Abbot refused to do.
It’s believed that if allowed to do so, MPs would approve a same-sex marriage bill.
Turnbull replied that the government would not change its policy and would pursue the path of a national referendum or plebiscite, something which critics say simply delays marriage equality and will be a waste of money.
“The coalition, our government, has decided that the resolution of this matter will be determined by a vote of the people, all the people, via a plebiscite, to be held after the next election,” Turnbull said.
The next election, however, could be held as late as 2017.
“If we are re-elected to government, every single Australian will have a say,” Turnbull added.
He admitted that a plebiscite “is more expensive but, nonetheless, it is a very legitimate and democratic way of dealing with it.”
Australian Marriage Equality National Director Rodney Croome commented that, “Obviously, many people will be disappointed that Malcolm Turnbull has not seized the opportunity to deliver marriage equality this term.”
He went on to say, that should Turnbull be Prime Minister after the election, and the Coalition decides to proceed with a plebiscite, “we look forward to working with him to ensure a plebiscite is conducted fairly, with a neutral question and that it occurs as quickly as possible.”
Croome expressed confidence that a majority of Australians will “vote ‘yes’ in a fairly-framed plebiscite.”
Polls indicate that between 60% and 70% of Australians are in favour of marriage equality.