Australia plan for vote on gay marriage hits stumbling block

Aug 30, 2016, 02:03

NXT leader Nick Xenophon said it should be up to the MPs to take on the responsibility as it was what they were voted in to do.

"Personally, I have no doubt the plebiscite will be carried and the same-sex marriage legislation will then sail through Parliament". That leaves the opposition center-left Labor Party as the government's only hope of getting the Senate to back a popular vote on same-sex marriage.

He also pointed to the high cost of holding the plebiscite which some estimates have at $160 million.

'We want to have marriage equality and we want to do it as quickly as possible, ' he told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

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Addressing Labor's new shadow ministry, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten railed against the "vile, negative campaign" that a plebiscite would unleash, and reiterated that Labor would continue to push for a free vote in the Parliament.

But the prime minister indicated only holding a plebiscite would lead to a parliamentary vote.

One shadow minister suggested Labor could yet be persuaded to wave the plebiscite through if it approved of the wording - for example, if the question referred to "marriage equality". "It's cheaper, it's quicker and at this stage it's ridiculous to be planning a February plebiscite".

A total of 38 votes are required to block legislation in the Senate, meaning the plebiscite can now only go ahead with support from Labor's 26 senators.

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Mr Xenophon told News Corp this afternoon his team's decision was motivated by a belief gay marriage should be introduced by parliamentarians in Canberra not a majority of Australians.

A leading moderate within the Coalition, Senator Birmingham said a plebiscite was the "only way" for change to happen.

The future of the Federal Government's promised plebiscite on same-sex marriage, and any change to the marriage act, now rests with the Labor Party.

Liberal MP Warren Entsch, a longtime advocate for reform, last week vowed not to cross the floor to support a Labor bill if the plebiscite is blocked.

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