LAST week’s Coalition party room vote on marriage equality joins climate change action as yet another example of Prime Minister Tony Abbott ensuring that Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world.
Survey after survey on both these issues show that Australians want us to catch up, but Mr Abbott is determined to hold us back.
It is as though our self-styled Captain is taking us in one direction, while we, supposedly his “team”, want to go another way, as the 72 per cent in favour of marriage equality clearly indicates.
The announcement last week of the government’s paltry carbon emissions targets mean we all lose out, and on marriage equality the people who lose out are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) couples, who just want to show their commitment to each other before their friends, family and the law.
So, yet again, the Prime Minister has shown he simply doesn’t want to listen.
This shirking of leadership means this discrimination faced by LGBTQI people and their families is set to continue.
Mr Abbott’s thought bubble of holding a plebiscite on the issue is at first sight a smart move, though on closer examination it is probably nothing more than an attempt to “fool all of the people all the time”, for, of course, a plebiscite wouldn’t necessarily matter, as Australia isn’t Ireland.
Here Parliament decides on marriage, not the people, unfortunately, and Parliament’s power to legislate about marriage is enshrined in the Constitution.
If we wanted that to change, then a referendum would be necessary, as plebiscites can’t change the Constitution.
In the likely event of the Government deciding on a referendum, what would it be asking?
That we change to Constitution to let a plebiscite resolve the issue? Bring it on, but that is as unlikely as the proverbial flying pigs. Clearly Tony Abbott’s mooted plebiscite is not really to give people a choice.
He's doing it to delay and ultimately attempt to defeat marriage equality.
Kicking the can down the street in the hope that it will disappear out of sight.
However, if a plebiscite is the only option on the table, it must happen at this election and the parliament must choose the question.
With this in mind the Greens and other members of the crossbench, are putting forward a bill to ensure a fair question on marriage equality is put to the people no later than the next election.
“We won't let Tony Abbott get away with scuttling this important change. If a plebiscite is going to happen then the Parliament needs to own it. Tony Abbott can't be trusted,” said the Australian Greens LGBTQI spokesperson Senator Janet Rice.
“It's 11 years to the day that the Howard government legislated marriage discrimination and it's never clearer how far we are behind the rest of the world.”
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