The joint Coalition partyroom this morning decided that the new national plebiscite date will be Saturday 25th November 2017. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann will reintroduce the plebiscite legislation into the Senate. Given it that it is certain to be defeated by Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch the government will then proceed with a postal plebiscite.
The process of how a postal plebiscite will operate was outlined by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mathias Cormann at a just passed press conference. It will be conducted by Australian Bureau of Statistics, instead of the Australian Electoral Commission. This allows the Finance Minister to appropriate funds without the need to ask the parliament and will cost $122 million. They have received legal advice that such a course of action would survive a High Court challenge.
Malcolm Turnbull reaffirmed at the press conference that he wanted to keep his commitment to the Australian people as that it what good leaders should do. Under both the compulsory plebiscite and the postal plebiscite proposal if it returns a yes vote a private members’ bill will be considered before the end of the sitting year. A no vote will mean no bill will be considered nor will Coalition MPs be granted a free vote.
Both the Prime Minister and Finance Minister were subject to hostile questions from the media claiming how could a postal plebiscite have any legitimacy and of course the tired argument of claiming a debate on same sex marriage was too triggering. Let us hope that the Australian people are given the opportunity to have their say on same sex marriage in some form as they were promised.