A fresh push by the Queensland LNP for a voluntary postal vote on federal marriage equality has been slammed as “deeply flawed”.
The Australian reported the Queensland branch of the Liberal National Party passed a motion on Friday at their state convention that called on the federal coalition government to conduct a non-compulsory postal ballot on the issue before the next election, as a compromise instead of the compulsory plebiscite that was blocked in the Senate last November.
The newspaper reported the non-binding motion, put forward by federal Nationals Senator Barry O’Sullivan, read: “That this LNP Convention calls upon the Federal Coalition Government to conduct a plebiscite on the question of Changing the Marriage Act to allow same sex marriage by way of a postal vote.”
The concept of a postal ballot to replace the plebiscite was initially proposed by Queensland MP and same-sex marriage advocate Warren Entsch who no longer supports it, The Australian reported.
Earlier this month, Liberal Senator Dean Smith confirmed he was drafting a private member’s bill on marriage equality – reportedly with fellow MP Trent Zimmerman – to allow his party “to revisit the issue of marriage once and for all before the next election” and called for a conscience vote on the issue in the parliament.
“I am not asking people to change their mind on the issue. Instead, we should allow everyone the right to vote according to their own conscience,” he said.
“The electorate is the best gauge of authenticity and my sense is that people are embarrassed that Australia has not resolved this issue.”
Barry O’Sullivan told The Australian last week: “It doesn’t matter whether it’s the behaviour of selfish individuals who want to just be disruptive or whether it’s individuals pursuing specific issues in a manner that’s in conflict with the policies we took to the election. I’m saying to my colleagues, you need to shut the flip up.
“We had one of the longest party room meetings in the history of our side of government where we determined the plebiscite for the same-gender marriage. It doesn’t get any fairer than that.”
Just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome blasted the proposed postal vote as “deeply flawed” and inherently biased against the reform.
“A postal vote will favour the ‘no’ case because younger voters, who are more likely to support marriage equality, are less likely to return their voluntary postal ballots,” he said.
“It also won’t require legislation so the Government will be able to bias the question and other aspects of the vote any way it wants.
“The only legitimate path forward is a vote in Parliament where all members are able to vote according to their conscience.”