Senior ministers yesterday confirmed that no bill outlining religious protections would be endorsed by the government until after the same-sex marriage survey result was declared, The Australian reports.
The decision flies in the face of a warning from former prime minister John Howard, revealed in The Weekend Australian, calling for religious protections to be outlined before the end of the postal survey so Australians could participate with the full knowledge of what they were voting for.
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP yesterday lamented that “real efforts” were being made to shut down certain points of view, when those who supported traditional marriage should feel free to defend their beliefs in public.
Postal surveys will today start being sent out to the more than 16 million Australians on the electoral roll. The Prime Minister confirming that about 600,000 would be distributed per day.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government would hand responsibility over the final shape of any bill to the parliament.
“We have said that in the case of a positive outcome from this Australian marriage law postal survey, the government will facilitate consideration by the parliament of a private members’ bill to change the law to allow same-sex couples to marry," Senator Cormann said. “A private members’ bill by definition is a matter for the parliament, not for the government. The form that such a bill will ultimately take will be a matter for the parliament, not the government.”
Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi said the decision to relinquish control over the final shape of any bill was like giving a “blank cheque” to the parliament and fraught with danger.
Archbishop Fisher, who was the subject of “vile and vitriolic” comments on Facebook last week after posting five reasons why he would vote No, said Australia had “always been a country of giving everyone a fair go”.
“We can still remain friends even when we disagree,” he said. “And we don’t go to war against each other over ideas. Right now I fear in our culture that there are real efforts to shut down certain points of view.”
Same-sex marriage postal survey without detail a 'blank cheque' (The Australian)
Fairfax-Ipsos poll shows 70 per cent support for same-sex marriage among those 'certain' to vote (Sydney Morning Herald)
First look at same-sex marriage postal survey form (9News.com.au)
‘No’ vote best for human flourishing (The Australian)