A meeting today between Attorney-General George Brandis and his Labor counterpart Mark Dreyfus has failed to break the stalemate over a same-sex marriage plebiscite.
In fact, the meeting barely got off the ground and has since evolved into a blame game across the political divide.
Senator Brandis said he had tried to find common ground and was rebuffed.
“I assured them that any proposal they made would be considered seriously by the Government, would be considered in good faith, and that I would take it to the Cabinet for consideration,” he told the ABC.
“I’m disappointed that on every occasion, when I asked Mr Dreyfus and Ms Butler to state what the Labor Party’s position was, they refused to do so.”
However, Mr Dreyfus told reporters in Brisbane that he was surprised the Attorney-General didn’t come to the meeting with something in hand.
“We got nothing,” he said. “The Attorney-General did not suggest anything that the Government is prepared to change.”
The Labor caucus is yet to formally decide whether it will give the plebiscite on February 11, 2017 the green light and is likely to make its final position clear at the next caucus meeting in two weeks’ time.
Meanwhile, a study has found that the rural Queensland seat of Maranoa is the only federal electorate in Australia where the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage.
Four other Queensland seats – Groom, Flynn, Hinkler and Kennedy – could join the list if undecided voters choose to oppose the move.
Using the ABC’s Vote Compass 2013 survey, researchers found there was a clear difference in voting between metropolitan and rural areas.
Inner-city areas in Sydney and Melbourne provided above-average support for a marriage equality change, with less than 10 per cent against, while rural areas in Queensland and northern NSW had 40-50 per cent of voters opposed.
Monash University political scientist Shaun Ratcliff told Fairfax Media a plebiscite, as proposed by the government, “would pass easily”.
“There has been a majority in favour of same-sex marriage for quite a long time now,” he said.
“I don’t think any thing’s inevitable but … we’re going to see same-sex marriage legalised. It’s just a matter of when.”
Senator Brandis has said that in the absence of a plebiscite, same-sex couples may have to wait until as late as 2020 for legislation to be changed to allow gay couples to marry.