Same-sex marriage debate begins in Tasmania

Deputy opposition leader Michelle O’Byrne said Tasmanian Labor would campaign “firmly behind marriage equality”.

Deputy opposition leader Michelle O’Byrne said Tasmanian Labor would campaign “firmly behind marriage equality”.

Tasmanian residents are likely to be inundated with brochures and information as groups on either side of the same-sex marriage debate begin campaigning.  

Last week concerns about constitutional issues due to the postal plebiscite were listed for hearing in the High Court on September 5 and 6. 

The challenge claims the government does not have the power to conduct the postal vote without parliamentary approval.

But the pending outcome of the hearing has done little to sway campaign planning on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate. 

Deputy opposition leader Michelle O’Byrne said Tasmanian Labor would campaign “firmly behind marriage equality”.

“We’ll be out there actively encouraging people to register to vote, they have a very short period of time to register, and then to have a yes vote,” she said. 

Like her federal Labor colleagues, Mrs O’Byrne was critical of the postal plebiscite. 

“I’ve been in the Federal Parliament and I’ve been in the Tasmanian Parliament and our job is to actually vote on legislation, the change to the marriage act is a simple clause change that’s required for a simple piece of legislation.”

Mrs O’Byrne said there would be a detailed campaign to encourage as many people as possible to vote yes.

“I’d imagine you’ll see many Labor Party people out there talking very strongly about their views,” she said.

“I’ll be out there suggesting people vote for marriage equality – most of Australia wants this to happen.”

Australian Christian Lobby Tasmania director Mark Brown said his organisation would campaign for people to vote no.

“ACL is part of a national marriage campaign – Coalition for Marriage –  which will be formally launched next week,” he said. 

“The Coalition has been formed by a range of groups that share a common concern about the consequences of redefining marriage, and who know that this plebiscite is a referendum on freedom of speech and safe schools.

“We will be highlighting to the community the impact taking the gender diversity requirement out of the Marriage Act will have on freedoms – as already seen in the legal action against Archbishop Julian Porteous here in Tasmania.”  

Australians not already on the electoral roll will have until August 24 to register with the Australian Electoral Commission.

Ballot papers are due to be posted to every enrolled Australian not before September 12, to be returned by November 7 before a result is declared on November 25.

A vote in the Federal Parliament may not come before the end of the year.

The plebiscite is also non-binding, meaning politicians will be free to decide how they vote in parliament. 

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