These MPs are just two reasons why a plebiscite on same-sex marriage is a bloody waste of time.


When Malcolm Turnbull rose to the top job, he took with him the hopes of the LGBTI community who thought that having a Prime Minister vocally in support of marriage equality could only mean one thing: We might finally achieve marriage equality.

Soon after taking over from Tony Abbott, Turnbull assured voters that the planned plebiscite would go ahead (though not until after the next election) and that his government would “abide by the decision made by the Australian people”.

Anyone who said otherwise, he told parliament in October, was “not living in the real world”.

“When the Australian people make their decision, that decision will stick,” he said.

“It will be decisive. It will be respected by this government and by this parliament and this nation.”

But the thing about plebiscites is — I mean, aside from the whopping $160 million cost involved in holding one — that they aren’t at all binding, for laws to change, the parliament must achieve a majority vote to alter legislation.

A point which conservative senator Eric Abetz underlined yesterday when he hinted that Coalition MPs won’t necessarily vote in favour of same-sex marriage regardless of which way the public vote swings (*cough* around 70% will probably be voting ‘yes’).

“I would need to determine whether [the plebiscite] really is an accurate reflection [of the national view], whether it is all above board or whether the question is stacked, whether all sides received public funding,” he told Guardian Australia.

“It would be up to each member to decide whether the plebiscite accurately reflects the views of the Australian people, whether it reflects the views of their electorates and whether it is good or bad public policy in their view.”


He also reiterated that his view “is very strongly that a marriage between a man and a woman is the foundational institution for socialising the next generation.”

Just quickly, while we’re on the top of the “next generation”, let 11-year-old Isabella explain why the plebiscite plan is fooling no one:

One MP Abetz may have had in mind when he made his comments, is Cory Bernadi, who told Fairfax yesterday that he won’t be swayed by public opinion.

“Even if the public voted for [same-sex marriage], I wouldn’t vote for it,” he said.

“It goes against what I believe in. This is a substantial issue and, in the annals of public policy, you want to be on the record about your views.”

Though he did add that other, less passionate parliamentarians would be more likely to “respect the views of the Australian people.”

Australian Marriage Equality’s Rodney Croome believes the pair’s comments are evidence that the issue ought to be decided by a parliamentary free vote.

“People are attracted to the idea of a plebiscite because at first glance it seems like a circuit breaker, but what Eric Abetz is saying shows it won’t be conclusive at all, and he’s right about that,” he told Guardian Australia.

Last year, in a piece for written for Mamamia, he offered this advice: “vote for politicians who will vote for marriage equality”.

Remember, there is an election between now and the proposed plebiscite, so make your vote count.