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.”