Although a public vote on marriage equality will be unnecessary, costly and divisive, new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has today confirmed he’s sticking to the Liberal party room’s plan to put it to the people after the next election. Whether or not there’ll be a change to the Marriage Act will “be determined by a vote of the people, all the people, via a plebiscite,” said Turnbull in Parliament today, prompted by a question from opposition deputy leader Tanya Plibersek. “It would take half an hour of parliamentary time to allow this bill to be voted on,” she pointed out. “It could be done tomorrow. Will the PM allow a vote on this bill and allow members of his party a free vote as he’s publicly called for previously?” Turnbull replied: “If we are re-elected to government, every single Australian will have a say.” The new Prime Minister defended the cost of the plebiscite, which the Australian Electoral Commission says is likely to be $158.4 million – covering the paper supplies, distribution, and the opening of polling places to gather responses to the question. “Granted, it’s more expensive,” Turnbull acknowledged. “But when did it cease to be democratic to let the people speak?”
Turnbull has long been an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage and activists are unsurprisingly furious about today’s statement.