Australians have voted yes to changing the law to allow same-sex marriage, paving the way for legislation to be introduced “as soon as possible”.
Head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics David Kalisch revealed that 61.6 per cent of people who participated in the postal vote chose Yes to changing the law to allow same-sex couples to get married.
Western Australia was the second highest voting state in favour of same-sex marriage with 63.7 per cent of 801,575 registered voters indicating Yes while 36.3 per cent voted No.
The result was only behind Victoria’s 64.9 per cent Yes vote, while the Australian Capital Territory recorded the highest Yes vote of any territory with 74 per cent.
Australia will become the 26th nation to formalise the unions if the legislation is passed by parliament.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was time to turn the result into law.
“It is our job now to get on with it, and get this done,” Mr Turnbull said.
“I say to all Australians, whatever your views on this issue may be, we must respect the voice of the people.”
“We asked them for their opinion and they have given it to us. It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming.”
Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who supported the Yes vote from the outset assured LGBT supporters that the legislation to pass the law would be fast-tracked.
“Today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate,” he exclaimed to an enthusiastic crowd.
“I want to say to all LGBT Australians you are 100 per cent loved, 100 per cent valued. And over the next two weeks of parliament, 100 per cent able to marry the person you love.”
Led by Liberal Dean Smith and supported by senior Labor figure Penny Wong will introduce a private bill to the upper house on Wednesday afternoon.
Debate on the bill could start as soon as Thursday morning.
Mr Turnbull remains confident the law can be passed before Christmas.
In WA, about 1,000 people flocked to Northbridge Piazza to see the results announced live at 7am.
Rainbow Rights WA spokesperson Jon Mann said it was a resounding result.
“Australia has our backs, they came out in massive numbers to support the LGBTI community,” Mr Mann said.
“We’ve got the result, it’s a landslide victory for the Yes campaign, a giant Yes from the entirety of the country and an even larger yes from Western Australia at 63 per cent.”
He said while it was not needed but it reinforced the view of the public.
“The vote today is something that never really should’ve happened,” Mr Mann said.
“I think that goes to show exactly what we already knew and this entire plebiscite or survey was actually quite pointless and was a waste of money entirely.”
He said it was time for the federal government to make the decision law.
“There’s absolutely no excuse,” Mr Mann said.
“This just says look, yes, get out there, you can’t block this and all the politicians need to get behind a huge and push it through as fast as possible.”
“Get the job done, legislate marriage equality now.”
However, the legislation still faces opposition with WA Liberal MP Rick Wilson claiming he would not guarantee a vote for the legislation and would only decide when the final bill is presented.
His electorate of O’Connor had the lowest Yes vote in WA with 52.6 per cent of voters choosing yes.
However, federal member for Moore Ian Goodenough did not oppose the final result despite supporting the No vote.
Mr Goodenough was one of the government’s strongest opponents of same-sex marriage, backing a rival bill that would have included anti-discrimination provisions for groups opposing same-sex marriage.
He said his vote in parliament would reflect the result in his electorate, which returned one of the highest Yes votes in WA.
“The Coalition has delivered on its election commitment and given Australians a say on SSM (same sex marriage,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Whilst I have made my personal views clear, my job is to represent the electorate of Moore, which has returned a majority ‘Yes’ vote.”
“This is what I intend to reflect in Parliament.”