The Australian – 29 June 2016
Joe Kelly, Political reporter
Turnbull: “Same sex marriage will be legislated for by the Australian Parliament”. Picture: Jason Edwards
Malcolm Turnbull says a plebiscite on same sex marriage could be held before the end of the year and, if successful, promises the enabling legislation would “sail through the parliament.”
The Prime Minister came under pressure today over the mechanics of the plebiscite and how the parliament would respond to a successful vote in favour of same sex marriage.
While acknowledging that some Coalition MPs would abstain or perhaps vote against same sex marriage whatever the plebiscite result, Mr Turnbull said it was absolutely certain the will of the people would be respected by the parliament.
“Can I just say to you that there are few things in politics that are certain, but one thing that I would say is an absolute certainty is that if the plebiscite is carried by the Australian people, same sex marriage will be legislated for by the Australian Parliament,” he said. “It will sail through the Parliament. Believe me.”
“In our party, it will be a free vote. So how members respond to the plebiscite is a matter for them. But you’ve already heard from senior politicians who will vote “no” against same sex marriage in the plebiscite who have said they will vote for it in the Parliament.”
“There may be others who will choose to abstain but I can assure you … all of us who live in the real world of real practical politics know that if the Australian people speak in favour of same-sex marriage in the plebiscite, it will be legislated. There is no question about that.”
Mr Turnbull said the issue would be “dealt with as quickly as possible” and said he was “reasonably optimistic that a plebiscite could be held before the end of the year.”
“There should be time to legislate for the plebiscite mechanism and have the plebiscite held before the end of the year. From my point of view, I would like the rather matter to be dealt with as soon as possible.”
Mr Turnbull said the administrative details of whether the plebiscite would be compulsory were still to be thrashed out.
Finance Minister Mathias Mathias Cormann said Bill Shorten’s rhetoric condemning Coalition plans for a same-sex marriage plebiscite is “bordering on the hysterical”, after video emerged of the Opposition Leader telling religious leaders and Christian voters at the 2013 poll that he was “completely relaxed about having some form of plebiscite” on same-sex marriage.
Labor now argues a plebiscite would unleash and license “hate speech” targeting gay Australians.
Mr Turnbull took aim at Bill Shorten in a radio interview with ABC Central Victoria today, saying: “The Labor Party is trying to make an issue out of this but let’s be clear, Bill Shorten told the Australian Christian Lobby as we have learnt today, back in 2013, that he supported a plebiscite.
“So he supported a plebiscite on gay marriage before the Coalition Party room and the Abbott government adopted it as a policy,” he said.