Last year, the Senate blocked a peoples’ vote on the issue of same-sex marriage from being held.
Had they let us have our say, we would be off to the polls.
Imagine that: the question of redefining marriage could have been resolved this weekend – 11 February – if the politicians had kept their promise to the people.
By killing the plebiscite, the government ignored their duty to serve the people. As Malcolm Turnbull confirmed, a people’s vote is and remains Government policy.
As reported by News.com.au, a number of Government MPs also supported Turnbull’s statement:
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has warned against abandoning a plebiscite, saying it would break a key election promise.
“Malcolm Turnbull made a clear election commitment that the marriage law would only change by way of people’s plebiscite, not free vote of the parliament,” the former prime minister told Fairfax Media.
“I’m sure he’ll honour that commitment. This isn’t about same-sex marriage, it’s about keeping faith with the people.”
Craig Kelly MP concurred, recognising the banning of a peoples’ vote as an affront to the Government’s relationship with the people:
“To back track and reverse on such a clear election promise during this parliamentary term would be a betrayal of the voting public,” he told AAP yesterday.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce reminded the party room that they were representatives of all Australians, not just those in the inner city. One frontbench MP described Mr Joyce’s warning:
“He said if we continue to be distracted by issues which only appeal to people in George Street and Oxford Street but not in the outer suburbs and the regions, things will not improve,” another said.
“He then specifically raised gay marriage as an example.”
It is clear that politicians have lost sight of their responsibility – to serve the people. Their deliberation on the subject of same-sex marriage implies that MPs know full well that changing marriage laws would have drastic consequences. Concurrently, those pushing for a free vote in Parliament know that if the issue is decided by the people, their agenda could be publicly rejected by the country at large.
A peoples’ vote is the only way to fairly decide the issue. It gives every citizen a say in the matter, and affords all parties an equal opportunity to convince the Australian people about the best way forward. An issue such as marriage cannot be decided by a room of politicians – it must be decided by the country as a whole. The politicians who stymied the plebiscite are not representing the people. It is time to decide the matter once and for all: let the people vote.