Australian Senator calls for fresh equal marriage effort after plebiscite defeat
A Liberal Senator has called for his government to support a fresh equal marriage effort in the Australian Parliament, after plans for a public vote on the issue were defeated.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suffered a humiliating defeat earlier this week when the Senate voted down a government bill to take same-sex marriage to a public vote in a non-binding plebiscite.
Critics saw the plebiscite plan as expensive, divisive and largely redundant, given overwhelming public and Parliamentary support for equality, and Turnbull’s opponents accused him of using a plebiscite to circumnavigate internal government rifts.
With support from major LGBT groups, opposition parties voted down the plebiscite bill by 33-29.
Following the defeat of the plebiscite plan, activists are now calling on the government to support a fresh bill to bring about equal marriage by a simple vote in Parliament.
One Liberal backbench Senator has openly called for a vote on a new bill.
West Australian Senator Dean Smith confirmed to Sky News: “We should be calm and methodical in terms of what the next steps might be on this particular issue.
“I don’t want us to get ahead of ourselves on this, but I do think it is totally reasonable that the issue of marriage should be tested once in the life of the 45th parliament. When that is, that’s a matter for myself and others and the Senate and the House of Representatives to discuss.”
Mr Smith was initially opposed to same-sex marriage, but later changed his mind – and now favours a vote in the parliament.
He added: “It may well be that a lot of people follow a journey like me. A lot of people are conscious of how communities attitudes are changing.
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This is a real issue for many families, for many extended families, for many friendships.”
However, opponents of equality within the government are exploiting the defeat in an attempt to draw a line under the issue.
Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, an opponent of same-sex marriage, claimed: “Now, we move on to other issues.”
Dismissing calls for a vote on the issue, Joyce claimed there didn’t need to be one because of the Australian federal election earlier this year.
Joyce claimed: “People in the Senate know full well the promise that was made to the Australian people and the alternate promise that was made by Mr Shorten. The Coalition won and, if nothing else, you should respect the will of the Australian people.”