Labor’s Terri Butler and former Coalition MP Teresa Gambaro proposed marriage equality legislation to the Federal Parliament last year. Photo: Alex EllinghausenLabor has continued to push the Turnbull government into abandoning its planned marriage equality plebiscite, but has remained coy on whether it would work with crossbenchers to block its enabling legislation.
Shadow Assistant Minister for Equality Terri Butler, the member for the Brisbane seat of Griffith, on Sunday seized on revelations the controversial $160 million plebiscite could be delayed until 2017.
Ms Butler, who last year partnered with then-Liberal National Party MP Teresa Gambaro to introduce marriage equality legislation in the Federal Parliament, said the government was in “complete shambles” over the issue.
Ms Butler repeated Labor’s calls for the matter to instead be decided on the floor of Federal Parliament through a free vote.
“I don’t think we should accept, as a fait accompli, that the only way to get marriage equality is a plebiscite,” she said.
“That doesn’t make sense. We’ve got 150 members of the House of Representatives and those 150 members can, at any time, do the right thing, go into that chamber and vote for marriage equality.
“We can do our job. In my view, I don’t think it’s time to give up on those members of Parliament actually doing their job.”
But when asked whether Labor MPs would work with the crossbench to block enabling legislation for a plebiscite, Ms Butler remained non-committal.
“I’m not buying into this plebiscite discussion because I’m optimistic that if we keep working, if we keep doing so in the spirit of good will, we can actually find a way to get the House of Representatives to do its job,” she said.
“So I think that talking about the logistics of someone else’s policy, or what’s going to happen to someone else’s imaginary legislation that we haven’t even seen yet.
“Let’s be honest – they’ve been talking about this plebiscite for a year and no-one’s seen a bill, no bill’s been tabled, no exposure draft of any bill’s been published.”
Ms Butler said the question of a plebiscite was a “silly distraction” that was designed to delay or prevent marriage equality becoming a reality in Australia.
“The government had its six-hour party room meeting to argue about marriage equality more than a year ago,” she said.
“They finally seem to be moving on the plebiscite, but what a waste of time. What dithering. What ridiculous waste.
“Let’s just get this done.”
Mr Turnbull’s office has told Fairfax Media no decision on the timing of the plebiscite, nor the wording of the question to be put to Australian voters, had been made.
Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton embraced the delay of the plebiscite, telling Fairfax Media it was “no surprise” 2016 was not feasible and the AEC needed more time for logistical reasons.
“It’s important the process isn’t rushed – from an administrative and consultation point of view. We need to get this right,” he said.
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.