Australian Opposition to Push for Gay Marriage Law Reform


Mr Shorten has indicated he will make life difficult for Mr Turnbull this parliament

Nearly two months after Turnbull emerged triumphant after vote counting continued into an eighth day, an Australian Newspoll of 1,696 voters Tuesday showed faith in the prime minister had dropped six percentage points, putting the Liberal Party leader at his lowest since he ousted predecessor Tony Abbott from office.

But the proposal is being blocked by opposition parties, who support equal marriage but see a plebiscite see it as costly measure inviting homophobic debate.

Gay rights advocates are generally opposed to the plebiscite, which they argue was initiated by lawmakers who hope it fails.

Support for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has fallen to an all-time low, according to a poll by The Australian newspaper on Tuesday.

The opposition Labor Party, the minor Greens party and two independent lawmakers on Wednesday proposed bills to allow Parliament to decide the issue without consulting the public.

Lawmakers were sworn in Tuesday after the election in early July left Turnbull’s coalition with a single-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

But it looks unlikely that any bill to bring on a direct vote in Parliament will pass, with Coalition MP Warren Entsch telling ABC’s 7.30 program that government politicians will not cross the floor to support them.

Nearly immediately after Shorten announced his bill, a crossbench group consisting of Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent MPs Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan announced that they would be introducing their own marriage equality legislation.

Both Wilkie and McGowan support marriage equality, as does the Nick Xenophon team. This means, assuming all Labor MPs vote together on this issue, they’d only need three more votes.

Things might be easier in the Senate, where the Liberal party holds only 30 seats of the 76 seats in the Upper House. Labor have 26, and there’s also a motley selection of 20 crossbenchers to contend with-a colourful political spectrum stretching from the Greens to One Nation. That bill was debated, but not voted on. The Coalition promised a plebiscite on the issue and are sticking to their word, despite pressure from marriage equality campaigners.

In the history of the Australian federal parliament, only 15 private member’s bills have ever passed into law successfully.

But this Bill Shorten’s marriage equality vote-depending on when it is introduced and who the ALP bargain with-might just be in with a chance.

While the government will be keen to get on with business, it appears likely Labor will test the narrow majority in the new parliament.

About author