Australians oppose plans for a same-sex marriage plebiscite and want equality issue passed in Parliament, a poll has found.
The country’s PM Malcolm Turnbull is trying to avoid a rift with his own ultra-conservative MPs by bringing forward plans to take same-sex marriage to the public in a non-binding plebiscite, instead of settling the matter in Parliament.
The plebiscite is set to be voted down in the Senate, where the government is in a minority, after negotiations with the opposition Labor Party failed.
Bolstering Labor’s case, a poll has this week found that Australians would rather see same-sex marriage passed through a simple vote in Parliament, compared to a plebiscite.
The poll, published in The Australian newspaper, found just 39% of voters support a plebiscite, while 48% want lawmakers to settle the issue in Parliament. 13% were undecided.
Even among government voters, only 47% still support a plebiscite, with 44% now preferring a resolution in Parliament, with 9% uncommitted.
The country’s Attorney General recently threatened a four-year delay on the issue if the plebiscite is shot down.
George Brandis warned: “My fear is that if the Labor Party blocks what is now the only feasible course for progressing this issue in this Parliament, the issue will go off the boil and we won’t know for how many years it will be that marriage equality is denied to same sex couples.
“The government is prepared to negotiate with the Labor Party in good faith because we are committed to resolving this matter by a plebiscite. That was endorsed by the Australian people at the last election.
“And if, like me, you favour reform to the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry then this is now the only feasible path to that outcome for many years to come.”
By Nick Duffy