Conservative MPs are reportedly proposing a long list of amendments they want made to the most prominent same-sex marriage bill if a “yes” vote is returned in the postal survey next month.
They plan to suggest a staggering 60 to 100 amendments to the bill put forward by Western Australian Liberal senator Dean Smith, The West Australian reported on Monday.
Smith’s bill is the likeliest to be put forward following a “yes” vote and is based on the findings of a cross-party Senate inquiry.
It provides exemptions for churches, religious organisations and their businesses, as well as existing civil celebrants who have religious objections to same-sex weddings.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the issue could easily be dealt with before Christmas, and both Labor and LGBTI campaigners have thrown their support behind Smith’s bill.
But Tasmanian senator and prominent “no” campaigner Eric Abetz said Smith’s bill was “not acceptable as a starting point” for same-sex marriage legislation following a “yes” vote.
“It is seriously inadequate, as parents, freedom of speech and religious freedom, along with conscientious objection, all need full protection,” Senator Abetz told The West Australian.
He joins other conservatives and “no” campaigners who say the religious exemptions in the bill don’t go far enough, and a group of conservatives are reportedly drafting their own same-sex marriage bill.
But LGBTI groups have said broadening the exemptions would be an attempt to weaken existing anti-discrimination laws.
Senator Smith told The West Australian his bill struck a “fair balance” on religious freedom, and called for the release of more detail about the proposed amendments.
Yesterday, Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham and Labor MP Tony Burke both pledged to deal with the issue in the parliament as quickly as possible following a “yes” vote.
Both Labor and Coalition MPs have been granted a conscience vote on any same-sex marriage bill introduced to parliament after the survey.
Recent polls have suggested a majority of Australians have voted “yes,” as the last of the mailed survey forms make their way to the Australian Bureau of Statistics before the final deadline next week.
The results of the survey will be announced on November 15.