- Same-sex marriage postal survey results are set to be announced on Wednesday
- Australian Bureau of Statistics will address Federal Parliament to reveal result
- ‘Yes’ vote expected to win after latest numbers revealed two-to-one majority
- More people voted in postal vote than for Brexit and Trump-Clinton US election
The allotted period for Australians to vote on same-sex marriage has ended, meaning the 12.6 million votes cast now need to be counted before parliament can look to pass it into law.
The returned ballots amounted for 78.5 per cent of the population, a strong response from the public to the controversial $122 million postal vote.
Australian Bureau of Statistics boss David Kalisch is now tasked with counting the ballots, and will address parliament in Canberra at 10am local time on Wednesday to reveal the result.
The allotted period for Australians to vote on same-sex marriage has ended, meaning the 12.6 million votes cast now need to be counted before parliament can look to pass it into law
Australian Bureau of Statistics boss David Kalisch (pictured) is now tasked with counting the ballots, and will address parliament in Canberra at 10am on Wednesday to reveal the result
Numerous events will be held around the nation for Wednesday’s eagerly anticipated but widely-accepted majority ‘Yes’ result.
The pro-same-sex marriage campaign led the ‘No’ vote two-to-one through early opinion polls, with the latter needing an overwhelming majority to narrow the gap.
‘We’re chasing down a big lead,’ ‘No’ campaign spokesman Lyle Shelton admitted.
Former Prime Minister and staunch anti-same-sex marriage opponent Tony Abbott said a 40 per cent figure would be a ‘moral victory’.
Should the vote come back majority ‘Yes’, as expected, Coalition MPs will be granted a free vote to decide whether the result is passed into law. That would likely occur before the end of the year.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it was essential it was passed into law before 2018.
‘If we were not to implement a decision on marriage equality, the nation would throw up its hands and give up on the parliament,’ he told a meeting of opposition senators in Canberra.
If the ‘No’ campaign unexpectedly win, it is highly unlikely the government will introduce the bill and it will largely be dead as far as the Coalition are concerned.
Labor have promised to legalise same-sex marriage within 100 days should they win the next federal election.
Timeline of the controversial same-sex marriage plebiscite
THE HIGH COURT CHALLENGES
Two groups of marriage equality advocates lodged papers with the High Court on August 10 challenging the postal survey, arguing the ABS did not have the power to run what is effectively a ballot, and the government couldn’t spend the $122 million needed to fund it, without parliamentary approval. The court dismissed both bids on September 7 and more than 16 million forms were sent out from September 12.
THE ELECTORAL ROLL CHANGES
After both sides of the debate urged Australians to have their say, almost one million changes were made to the electoral roll ahead of the survey. The ABS also revealed on August 25 there were 90,000 new names on the roll.
THE EXTREME POSTERS
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, on August 21, blasted a poster spotted in a Melbourne laneway carrying the slogan ‘stop the fags’, which appeared to trace back to the message board of a neo-Nazi website. He posted on Facebook that Labor had opposed the survey ‘because we feared exactly this kind of hurtful filth would emerge’. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told 2Day FM he was offended by such posters while defending the vast majority of people who do not agree with same-sex marriage, as not homophobic.
THE TELEVISION ADS
Groups on both sides of the debate produced television ads, including the Coalition for Marriage, whose piece, launch on August 30, featured three mothers concerned about how same-sex marriage would affect what was taught and promoted in schools.The Equality Campaign rebutted some claims in the Coalition’s ad with their own piece, featuring prominent doctor Kerryn Phelps.
THE CELEBRITY OPINIONS
Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe joined the ‘Yes’ campaign on August 12, saying it was important for ‘the message it sends to a young me’. Singer Kylie Minogue and Hollywood stars Chris Hemsworth and Russell Crowe are among others to have backed same-sex marriage on social media, while Wallabies star Israel Folau tweeted he would not support same-sex marriage.
A ‘Vote NO’ message was written in the sky over Sydney on September 17, while a simple ‘NO’ was written above Melbourne on October 10. The skywriting appeared to be crowdfunded through a Go Fund Me page.
THE MACKLEMORE PERFORMANCE
American rapper Macklemore became immersed in the debate ahead of singing his 2012 chart-topper Same Love at the NRL grand final on October 1. Former prime minister Tony Abbott and right-wing independent MP Bob Katter slammed the NRL for inviting the rapper to perform, saying footy fans should not be subjected to a politicised grand final. Meanwhile Prime Minister Turnbull said he looked forward to the performance and Attorney-General George Brandis labelled Mr Abbott’s comments ‘bizarre’.
THE ABBOTT HEADBUTT
Mr Abbott revealed on September 21 he had been headbutted by a same-sex marriage supporter in Hobart. The 38-year-old attacker, who was charged with common assault, was later revealed as DJ Astro Labe who said while he had been wearing a ‘yes’ sticker, the attack was inspired by a personal hatred for Mr Abbott and had nothing to do with same-sex marriage.
People across Australia attended rallies, with ‘Yes’ events held in Melbourne on August 26 and Sydney and Brisbane on September 10 attracting thousands of people, while an eight-strong counter-protest took place in Brisbane. About 20 same-sex marriage opponents turned out for a Straight Lives Matter rally in Sydney on September 23, while two women who locked lips during an anti-same-sex marriage event in Melbourne on the same day were dragged from a stage by security.
THE NO CAMPAIGNERS
Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi said on August 22 that people involved in the ‘Yes’ campaign had been ‘militant and intolerant’ of those who favour a ‘No’ vote. Later in September reports emerged a contractor for a Canberra kids parties business was sacked for adding the message ‘it’s OK to vote no’ to her Facebook profile photo.
Senator James Paterson has proposed an alternative bill to legalise same-sex marriage to ‘preserve’ the freedoms of Australians.
Paterson, a conservative Liberal, on Monday released draft legislation, which he argues will preserve the freedoms of all Australians.
The bill ensures exemptions for ministers of religion and celebrants with genuine belief and allows a limited form of conscientious objection.
It also seeks to protect freedom of speech and enacts a narrow anti-detriment clause, which would prevent governments and agencies taking adverse action against someone with a traditional view of marriage.
The bill would also guarantee the right of parents to opt their children out of school classes that conflicted with their values.
Fellow Liberal Dean Smith also has a private bill ready for parliament.
Senator James Paterson has proposed an alternative bill to legalise same-sex marriage to ‘preserve’ the freedoms of Australians
It also includes exemptions so religious organisations can refuse to conduct same-sex marriages.
Cabinet minister Mathias Cormann said his personal instinct was the Smith bill was ‘probably a good starting position’ because it had been subject to a cross-party Senate committee process.
‘But I suspect it will need improvement in terms of strengthening religious protections,’ he told ABC radio.
Ultimately it was up to parliament to decide which bill was the ‘vehicle to facilitate’ the parliamentary debate.
‘There won’t be a government position, there won’t be a party position,’ Senator Cormann said.
Senator Paterson, who voted yes in the marriage postal survey, says any ensuing law changes shouldn’t have negative consequences for opponents of same-sex marriage.
‘If the parliament opts for a narrower bill with fewer protections, I fear we will see some Australians seek to impose their values on others, with court cases and other legal mechanisms,’ he said in a statement announcing the draft bill.
‘I’ve never believed that allowing same-sex couples to marry needs to come at the expense of the freedoms of other Australians.’
Senator Paterson believes state and federal anti-discrimination laws aren’t strong enough.