Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has written a powerful letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urging him to scrap the planned marriage equality plebiscite.
On Sunday Attorney-General George Brandis told the ABC he would take plans for the plebiscite – a public vote – to the federal cabinet within weeks and said it was the “only way” the issue could be progressed after the election.
Premier Andrews (pictured) dismissed the $160 million plebiscite as “the nation’s most expensive opinion poll.”
“This plebiscite will hurt people. It will legitimise a hateful debate which will subject LGBTI Australians to publicly funded slurs and denigration, further alienating a proud community who have fought so hard against prejudice for so long,” he wrote.
I wrote a letter to the PM, because his plebiscite on marriage equality will hurt people. pic.twitter.com/yQp5XTdVxE
— Daniel Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) July 24, 2016
Premier Andrews reminded Prime Minister Turnbull they’ve both been fortunate to share the privilege of marrying the people they love.
“At the time I did not consider it unusual that I should have the legal right to marry Catherine. I realise now how precious that right is, because I’m witnessing so many people forced to fight just to be allowed to do what I did – marry they person they love,” he wrote.
“In Victoria, equality is not negotiable. On behalf of my state, I urge you to accept there is no need for a costly and divisive plebiscite and agree to produce a bipartisan Bill to amend the Marriage Act within the next 100 days.”
Senator Brandis told the ABC on Sunday it would be up to the cabinet whether public funding would be provided for “yes” and “no” campaigns but said any such funding should be split equally.
But Australian Marriage Equality said they didn’t want any campaigners to receive any public money for the vote.
“We did not ask for a plebiscite, but if one is imposed upon us we do not think Australian taxpayers should pay for the respective campaigns,” AME chair and New South Wales Independent MP Alex Greenwich said.
“$160 million is expensive enough and we don’t think its right that more public money is added to the cost of a plebiscite.”