Same-sex marriage could be legalised in Australia by December but it’ll cost $120 million
Australia could have same-sex marriage legalised by December however it is going to cost $120 million when it could be free.
The leading governmental party, the Liberal Party, held a crisis meeting yesterday and voted on a bill that would have allowed politicians to vote on same-sex marriage in Parliament for free.
The plebiscite has faced heavy criticism for being expensive to tax payers and because it is not legally binding.
Today, notice will be given in order to put the bill back on the Senate’s agenda.
It will be voted on by November 25, but it is likely to fail as every senator who voted it down in November 2016 have said that they will vote it down again.
When this bill ultimately fails, a voluntary postal vote will be proposed.
The postal vote is estimated to cost approximately $120 million.
While it is $50 million less than an in person vote, many fear that the huge cost to tax payers will cast a negative public opinion on marriage equality.
Acting special minister of state, Mathias Cormann, who is leading the way on the trying to pass the plebiscite or postal vote has said that he has the power under the Appropriations Act to allocate tax payer money to the vote without the need to pass it through as legislation.
Advocates in the country have said that this is unconstitutional and that they will launch a challenge in the High Court.
If the legal challenge fails then ballots will be posted out in September and a final result could be reached as soon as November 15.
If the country votes yes then Parliament will have two weeks ahead of Christmas recess to pass a bill.
MPs will be granted a conscience vote and free to vote either for or against same-sex marriage.
However, if the country votes no then no vote will be held at all and any attempt to introduce same-sex marriage legislation will be blocked.
The government will also order the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to essentially run the plebiscite by collecting the population’s views on same-sex marriage.
Cormann said the precedent for the survey came of the back of a phone survey about the national anthem carried out by the Whitlam government in 1974.
He said: “At the end of that process, 51.4% of Australians surveyed by the ABS opted for the Australian national anthem to be changed to Advance Australia Fair.
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“This is essentially the same process using the same constitutional head of power, using the relevant legislation underpinning the operations of the ABS and the Australian statistician.”
However, advocates have serious legal concerns over ABS’ involvement in the vote.
“Advice we received from [Ron Merkel QC] last week indicated the government cannot act without specific legislation and a specific budgetary appropriation,” said just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome in a statement.
“That would appear to cover a postal vote conducted by either the Electoral Commission or the Bureau of Statistics, but we are seeking further advice to establish the constitutionality of the current proposal.
“If the advice shows there are grounds to strike down the postal vote we will see the government in court.”