Divisions within the Australian government were becoming increasingly apparent on Friday, as senior ministers bickered over whether to send the issue of same- sex marriage to a referendum.


Education Minister and leader of the house Christopher Pyne was the latest to voice his opinions on the matter, telling the Nine Network that a public referendum, which, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott suggested, would be taken after the next federal election, was unnecessary.

He said a referendum was normally used for constitutional change, so suggested a plebiscite was the best way to have the country decide on the issue.

“We have decided to put it to the people. Obviously that should be done through a plebiscite, because there is absolutely no reason to change the constitution. The Attorney General (George Brandis) has made that entirely clear,” Pyne said on Friday.

“A referendum would cost a great deal of money, in fact only to achieve no outcome because there is no legal basis for a referendum.”

Pyne himself would rather settle the matter in parliament instead of allowing the Australian people to vote on the matter. He said a parliamentary “free vote”, which was denied by Abbott earlier this week, was his preference.

“My first preference is that this matter should be dealt with by the parliament, through a free vote,” he said.

Meanwhile Social Services Minister Scott Morrison is one government MP pushing hard for a referendum, which would mean a national majority and the majority of the states would have to vote in favor of same-sex marriage to pass the bill.

Morrison is opposed to same-sex marriage, and a referendum requires more prerequisites to pass compared to a plebiscite, which is a simple, national vote.

But on Thursday afternoon, Attorney General George Brandis said Morrison’s support of a referendum was misguided.

Brandis said putting the issue to the people simply was the best way to decide.

“I can’t imagine that there will be a referendum on this question,” he said during senate question time on Thursday. “If there were a public vote, it clearly would be a plebiscite.”

No conclusion has yet been reached, with Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull telling reporters on Friday that there is much to be decided before a vote of any kind is approved by the house.

“As far as consulting the public through a plebiscite, that’s not yet determined. The mechanism’s not yet determined, the timing of it is not yet determined,” he said. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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