Cabinet minister Peter Dutton says he and others in the Turnbull government are working to find a sensible resolution to the issue of same-sex marriage during this term of parliament.
Mr Dutton confirmed he is investigating conducting a postal plebiscite on gay marriage after the government’s push for a regular popular vote was sunk by parliament.
“It may achieve in some ways the same outcome to a plebiscite that you would think of in the traditional sense,” he told Ray Hadley on Sydney’s 2GB Radio on Thursday.
Mr Dutton was also pressed on the issue in the halls of Parliament House in Canberra.
“It (a postal vote) adheres with our policy that we took to the last election and I think we need to deal with the realities of the current parliament,” he told reporters.
It was clear parliament would not pass legislation required to trigger a regular plebiscite, and the postal alternative would require no such laws.
“So I want us to stay true to the policy that we took to the last election and I think ideas should be considered in that context,” he said.
“We should abide by that position but lots of us are working together to find a sensible approach through this parliament.”
Labor leader Bill Shorten questioned who dreamed up the non-binding postal vote, which he said was nothing more than an opinion poll.
“You know, they’ve invented the internet, they should just have an opinion poll – which we’ve already had – and let the parliament vote on it. It’s very straightforward,” he told reporters in Canberra.
The opposition leader bemoaned the issue becoming a political football, saying politicians should vote on the issue and be done with it.
“I think Australians can’t understand why this place can’t do it’s day job,” Mr Shorten said.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott said the Liberal Party’s commitment remained that the Marriage Act would not be changed without “being put to the people first” in a referendum-like vote.
“If it is to change it should only change by a decision of the whole people,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
Mr Abbott said he respected Mr Dutton and was confident the minister was trying to secure “the best possible way of realising the commitment” the Liberal Party took to the 2016 election.