On Wednesday, the Federal Government announced a non-binding and non-compulsory postal vote on marriage equality would take the place of the plebiscite, which was rejected by the Senate.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics is set to conduct the survey, despite the disaster of last year’s census, so the Government can avoid electoral law.
The ballot papers are due to be sent out on September 12, and Australians only have until August 24 to enrol to vote with the Australian Electoral Commission. The results are expected to be announced on November 15.
With the vote costing $122 million, many people are worried it’s a waste of taxpayer money.
WA Greens MLC Alison Xamon called the postal vote “an absolute waste of money” and said the money could be spent anywhere else and it would be better spent.
“Just off the top of my head [the money could be better spent on] mental health services, suicide prevention services, the NDIS, TAFE, education,” she said.
“There are so many services that are screaming out for funds from this Federal Government, domestic violence services, and yet this is what they choose to spend our precious dollars on. This absolutely unnecessary and completely unbinding, awful postal ballot, which isn’t even going to be able to be accessed by everyone who is on the electoral roll.”
WA Liberal MP Tony Krsticevic said he’s disappointed that the Senate didn’t uphold Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s election promise to hold a compulsory plebiscite on marriage equality.
“I, like probably all Australians, expect our Members of Parliament to deliver on their election commitments,” he said.
“So, I think the Prime Minister has a mandate to go to a plebiscite and I think it’s disappointing that the Senate hasn’t supported the will of the people, when the Prime Minister was elected.”
However, for the marriage equality bill to be passed, there doesn’t need to be a plebiscite or vote of any kind.
Ms Xamon said the government could pass the bill next week if they wanted to as the legislation is already drafted.
“It’s an absolute disgrace that this is the sort of horrible politicking that the Liberal Party is basically prepared to sink to,” she said.
“What we are calling out for is a straight up, free vote in Parliament.”
“This is what we pay our Members of Parliament to do and they need to step up, they need to do their damn job and they should be looking at debating this legislation in a free and fair manner as soon as possible.”
During Wednesday’s debate, where the Senate voted to kill the plebiscite, Senator Penny Wong gave a scathing speech about the harm the LGBTI community face during the campaign for a popular vote.
“Have a read of some of the things which are said about us and our families and then come back here and tell us this is a unifying moment,” she said.
“The Australian Christian lobby described our children as the stolen generation. We love our children.”
“And I object, as do every person who cares about children, and as do all those couples in this country, same-sex couples who have kids, to be told our children are a stolen generation?
“You talk about unifying moments? It is not a unifying moment. It is exposing our children to that kind of hatred.”
Ms Xamon said she is worried the hate-filled campaign will have devastating effects on the mental health of many in the LGBTI community.
“People are very concerned for very young LGBTI people who are still coming to terms with their sexuality or their gender identity, and how this going to impact on them and their wellbeing and how they feel that they belong in the world,” she said.
“And the other thing of great concern to people is how the children of families from equal marriage are going to be affected by this.
“Because what you’ll find is these children just live in normal families, but they are suddenly going to be subject to a hate-filled, divisive campaign, being run by an absolute minority within this country saying the worst things about them and their families.”
Australians are being urged to check their enrolment, so they can exercise their democratic rights and have their say in the postal vote.