Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has backed calls for a voluntary postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage, while pushing back against his moderate Liberal colleagues’ attempts to bring on a conscience vote, The Guardian reports.
In an interview on Sky News yesterday, Mr Dutton was asked about Fairfax Media reports on a conservative push for a postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
Voting in a postal plebiscite would be voluntary, and such an approach would avoid the need for legislation to be passed through the Senate.
A postal vote is supported by Nationals MP George Christensen and the Queensland Liberal National party passed a motion in support of the option last week.
Mr Dutton all but conceded a traditional plebiscite was impossible, but pushed back against attempts to deal with the issue through a private member's bill, an approach led by Liberal MP Dean Smith.
“Our party went to the election with a promise of a plebiscite, which has not been possible to deliver because we can’t get the votes of the Senate,” Mr Dutton said.
“From that point, what’s the next best option? In my mind it is a postal plebiscite which allows the public to have their say. If the majority of Australian people have their say in favour of change, my view is that having advocated a democratic process … then the government of the day is bound by that outcome.
“I think that is a much cleaner process than people running off to support private members' motions, or a Labor stunt within the House of Representatives.”
But same-sex marriage campaigners have criticised any attempt for a postal vote.
The Australian Marriage Equality co-chair and NSW independent MP Alex Greenwich described it as a “political trick to override the role of parliament”.
Same-sex marriage: conservatives split over postal-vote plebiscite (Sydney Morning Herald)