Marriage equality: plebiscites, politics and not much else

Graphic

Labor and the Coalition butt heads on marriage equality policy as the 2016 federal election looms. Image: Supplied

BENNET NICHOL

Marriage equality – for better or worse – is back on the political agenda as Labor and the Coalition gear up their campaigns for the upcoming federal election.

The two major parties are unsurprisingly butting heads on this rather non-contentious issue, as polls continually show that the majority of Australians are pro-marriage equality.

As Bill Shorten’s opposition campaign comes into full swing, the ALP have brought marriage equality back into the political ether, declaring they will achieve a pro-equality policy in the first 100 days of office.

Labor MP for Moreton, Graham Perrett said marriage equality should be legislated without a plebiscite.

“No divisive, costly 200 million dollar plebiscite, it is a waste of money,” Mr Perrett said.

“I am really worried about a plebiscite being divisive, where [the LGBTI community] would be targeted; it’s not an appropriate way to use Australia’s resources.”

Labor’s position comes as a response to Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition’s intention to take the policy through the rare and costly process of a nation-wide plebiscite, a voluntary vote which will allow the public to decide their position on the legalisation of marriage equality.

Pol

Fairfax polling shows growing support for legalising same-sex marriage. Source: Fairfax Media

All this political attention begs the question, why are Australian federal politicians making such a fuss over a policy that is not particularly contentious to the majority of people?

Would it be such a stretch to think that Australian politicians may be using marriage equality as a political fulcrum in the upcoming election?

National Director of Australian Marriage Equality, Rodney Croome suggests Labor bringing this policy to the election is not necessarily an issue, but rather the problematic politicisation of marriage equality that lies in the lack of bi-partisan support between the two major parties.

“The issue is not so much that parties give priority to marriage equality, the issue is they don’t give priority to working together to get the reform through… this is where the issue of politicisation really comes into its own,” Mr Croome said.

Marriage equality should be a piece of ordinary legislation, which is dealt with in an ordinary way and in the right time period.

“But that’s obviously not what’s happening in Australia, it’s being treated like an extraordinary piece of legislation, it’s been delayed and frustrated for years, and the result is that Australia is now the last developed English speaking country without marriage equality.”

The Coalition was contacted for a statement but was unable to provide a timely response.

Comments

  1. Yet, again this represents the lack of true and brave governing by the government of the day. Surely there are more pressing issues that need the government’s (and Opposition) attention and use of public money. This is just shoddy politics played at the expense of a minority group.

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