TURNBULL CLOSES DOOR ON AN EARLY PLEBISCITE


Malcolm Turnbull was making all the right moves by becoming the first sitting prime minister to attend the Mardi Gras parade in Sydney.

Mr Turnbull, along with wife Lucy, has been a regular at the event which takes place in his Wentworth electorate.

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And, of course, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten didn’t miss the opportunity, becoming the first major party leader to join the march on a parade float.

But as the revelling subsides, when it comes to the “hot potato” that is same-sex marriage, the government continues to put the issue on the backburner.

There was a real glimmer of hope yesterday when Attorney-General George Brandis told Sky News that the government had brought forward the timeline for the national plebiscite.

The bill to constitute the plebiscite will be introduced early in the life of the new parliament so we can have the plebiscite before the end of this year,” Mr Brandis said.

In the event that there would be a yes vote, the government would legislate to give effect to the wishes of the people.”

But Mr Turnbull was quick to shut the door on any speculation of an early plebiscite, refusing to endorse an end-of-year deadline for a public vote if the coalition wins the upcoming election.

He would only commit to holding a plebiscite “as soon after the election as can be done”.

Predictably, the ALP and the Greens were quick to condemn the government’s “shambolic” approach and again urge the prime minister to scrap the plebiscite plans and allow a free parliamentary vote.

They need to get their stories straight but most of all Mr Turnbull should be dropping this wasteful and very divisive plebiscite,” shadow attorney-general Mr Dreyfus told ABC radio.

Let parliamentarians do the job we are meant to do, which is pass laws, to legislate.”

If nothing else, by suggesting the possibility of an early public vote on the issue, Mr Brandis has, wittingly or otherwise, sparked speculation about the timing of the federal election.