Federation is strongly in favour of seeing marriage equality legalised in Australia but is opposed to the Coalition’s policy to hold a costly plebiscite rather than introduce a private members bill to change the Marriage Act.
The Coalition’s plans to hold a plebiscite early next year, breaking its election promise, will cause unnecessary significant financial and emotional costs.
PwC Australia has stated that the intended plebiscite could cost the economy up to $525 million. The cost of holding the vote itself would be $158 million for the Australian Electoral Commission, plus $280 million in lost productivity and additional funding of the “for” and “against” marriage equality campaigns.
Then there is the very conservative estimate of $20 million estimated to be spent on additional mental health costs due to the issues arising within LGBTIQ families because of the stress and the public nature of a plebiscite.
There have only been three plebiscites held in Australia to date: the 1916 military service conscription (defeated), the 1917 reinforcement of the Australian Imperial Force overseas (defeated), and the 1977 choice of Australia’s national anthem in which “Advance Australia Fair” was preferred.
A compulsory national vote was not imposed to change the Marriage Act in 2004 when then prime minister John Howard announced changes to include a discriminatory definition of marriage as the “voluntary entered-into union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others”.
Federation has attended marriage equality rallies and has a long history of supporting LGBTIQ members and will continue to be an advocate for LGBTIQ families and members.
Alicia Heymel is a member of Federation’s LGBTIQ Special Interest Group