Greens Senator Janet Rice, along with independent crossbench Senators Glenn Lazarus, David Leyonhjelm, Ricky Muir and Nick Xenophon this week introduced their Marriage Equality Plebiscite Bill.
The introduction of the Bill has led to a parliamentary inquiry into whether a public vote could coincide with the next federal election.
If the Bill was adopted, the question would be asked: “Do you support Australia allowing marriage between two people regardless of their gender?”
The Bill specifies: “If the result of the national plebiscite is that the majority of electors respond in the affirmative, the Parliament will pass any legislation necessary to allow marriage between two people regardless of their gender, and do so within six months of that result being provided.”
Senator Rice (pictured) said it brings discussions over a plebiscite out from behind the closed doors of the Liberal and National party room and into the open.
“The rest of the world has left us behind, but Tony Abbott persists with his tricky delay tactics,” she said.
“We can’t allow the prime minister another disastrous Captain’s Pick on the wording or timing of a plebiscite.
“Established by the Senate, this inquiry gives the community the opportunity to have a say on the timing and form of any marriage plebiscite.”
It is to be investigated by the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs references committee and a response is expected on 16 September.
It is unlikely that the Bill will succeed, as the Labor Party, which is in support of a parliamentary resolution to the issue, is likely to oppose it.
Liberal MP Warren Entsch’s cross-party Bill in the Lower House is still a live option, with the House of Representatives set to debate it on 7 September.
Meanwhile, if Labor wins the next federal election, party leader Bill Shorten has promised to introduce marriage equality legislation in the first 100 days of the new government.