Opinion

Countdown to gay poll result

by
November 15, 2017

Australians will find out the results of the same sex marriage poll this morning.

Millions of people will be watching their phones, computers screens and televisions at 10am today as the result of the same-sex marriage postal survey is unveiled.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release the result Canberra at the end of what has been a very angry and divisive debate.

If polling is accurate Australians are likely to endorse a change to the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Support has been in favour for same-sex marriage throughout the campaign, with the most recent Newspoll showing 63 per cent of those polled had voted yes.

That is if polling data is to be believed.

Polls confidently showed Britons would vote to stay in the European Union and Americans would pick Hillary Clinton ahead of Donald Trump, and we all know what happened there.

But the very strong lead the ‘yes’ side shows it would have to be a very very large ‘silent majority’ to cause a surprise ‘no’ victory.

The idea of putting same-sex marriage to a public vote is highly unconventional but not unheard of in Australia’s political history.

Typically Australians have been asked questions of national importance if a change of the constitution deemed it necessary.

In 1999 Australians were asked if they were in favour of an Australian Republic, a question which voters rejected.

The non-binding plebiscite is not a complete anomaly, in 1977 voters were asked what song should be our national anthem, and in 1916 and 1917 voters were asked to approve of conscription.

If Australians do vote in favour of same-sex marriage, now it is time for Canberra to play its part.

The Prime Minister was heavily criticised for deferring the issue to a plebiscite, with a cost of $122million despite opinion polls already showing strong support.

But in October he did promise if Australians vote ‘yes’ then same-sex marriage would be legalised by Christmas.

Already there is talk of division in the Coalition, with conservative Liberal senator James Patterson floating an alternative same-sex marriage bill.

The rival bill put forward is vastly different from Dean Smith’s bill and it could be the next political battle if a yes vote is successful.

A lot can change in a month and Mr Turnbull probably did not think he would have lost his majority in the lower house before the last sitting fortnight.

With the numbers looking shaky for his government after the disqualification of Barnaby Joyce and the resignation of John Alexander, the final fortnight in Canberra could be chaotic.

But despite the strange circumstances, if Australians do vote yes, Mr Turnbull needs to keep his promise and get it done before the year’s end.

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