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Xenophon Senators Will Oppose Same-Sex Marriage Plebiscite; Senate Now Seems Certain To Oppose Poll

The plebiscite on same-sex marriage now seems unlikely to be supported by the Senate, following an announcement today by the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT).

The Xenophon party issued a statement on the plebiscite that says: “We do not support it.”

NXT says the issue is a matter for Parliament, the plebiscite could be ignored by Parliament and the $160 million to conduct the vote could be better spent.

“Each of us supports marriage equality and we are ready to vote accordingly,” the statement says.

There are three NXT senators: Nick Xenophon, Stirling Griff and Skye Kakoschke-Moore. All are from South Australia.

The Greens announced on August 26 that they will vote against the plebiscite legislation. “No matter what the enabling legislation for a plebiscite looks like, the Greens will vote against it. We should never put questions of human rights to an opinion poll,” said Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale.

Victorian Greens Senator Janet Rice reiterated this position on Sky yesterday.

  • Water Senator Janet Rice (99s)

Together, the Greens and NXT have 12 votes in the Senate. Senator Derryn Hinch has also indicated he will oppose the plebiscite. The support of the ALP – 26 votes – will ensure a blocking majority of 39 votes.

The ALP has not formally announced it will oppose the plebiscite legislation. The ALP has said it wants to see the content of a bill but it seems clear from statements by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten that the measure will not gain the party’s support.

The government has said there will be no further progress on same-sex marriage legislation in the life of this parliament if the plebiscite is defeated. It will not submit the proposal to a vote in the House of Representatives, regardless of the actions of the Senate.

The plebiscite plan was initiated by former prime minister Tony Abbott. Turnbull is reported to have undertaken to support it when he moved to overthrow Abbott just under a year ago. Turnbull personally supports the measure.

Parliament resumes tomorrow for the first time since the July 2 election.

Statement from the Nick Xenophon Team – August 29, 2016.


Media release from the Australian Greens – August 26, 2016.

Greens will vote against plebiscite legislation

The Australian Greens have resolved to vote against any legislation enabling a plebiscite on marriage equality.

“No matter what the enabling legislation for a plebiscite looks like, the Greens will vote against it. We should never put questions of human rights to an opinion poll,” said Greens Leader Richard Di Natale.

“The easiest, simplest, quickest, most effective, least costly and least harmful way of ensuring equality in marriage is through a vote in the parliament, and we can do that next week should the Prime Minister decide to show some leadership.

“The Greens won’t support this waste of money that is designed to delay equality and give a megaphone to hate and homophobia.

“The Greens will vote for marriage equality – every MP, every vote, every time – so we call on Labor and the other crossbenchers to reject the Liberals’ plebiscite and demand a free vote in the Parliament.”

Greens spokesperson on LGBTIQ Senator Janet Rice said:

“Australia has fallen behind the rest of the world on marriage equality.

“We’ve listened to the LGBTIQ community, 85% of whom are opposed to a damaging and unnecessary plebiscite because of the harm that it would do.

“John Howard didn’t need a plebiscite to deny marriage equality and we don’t need one now embrace it.

“The Prime Minister needs to have the courage to stand up to the extreme wing of his party, who are doing everything they can to delay the inevitable.

“We need a free vote in the Parliament as soon as possible. We could have legislation passed next week and wedding bells ringing this spring,” Senator Rice said.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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