If the Federal Government gets its way, Australians will be heading back to the polls again on February 11.
But this time they don’t get to choose a Government.
This time they get to tell the Government how they feel about making the institution of marriage available to same-sex couples so the Government can then go back to Parliament and do what the people elected them to do in the first place – govern.
That’s the galling aspect of spending $160m on a plebiscite, plus $15m in campaign advertising.
The result changes nothing for the LGBTI community, or those opposed to same-sex marriage, because politicians are not bound by the plebiscite result.
This is not Brexit.
There is no decision reached at the completion of the count.
The plebiscite is a very expensive opinion poll and it’s a timid approach to government.
In an era where the Coalition is trying to convince Australians that they are living beyond their means and government spending needs to be slashed, the returned Turnbull team is sending a message that $175m is a perfectly reasonable sum to simply gauge the mood of the nation towards marriage equality.
It’s not. Nor can Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull argue that he has a mandate for a plebiscite because he won the election.
Given the close result, it’s arguable whether the PM has a clear mandate for any of his campaign platforms.
If the Coalition doesn’t feel it truly knows the will of the people, then a far less expensive option might be to hire a professional company to do some rigorous polling.
The Parties obviously think these polls are accurate otherwise they wouldn’t take such an interest in their results.
If any polling showed the views of wider Australia was close to 50/50 (or whatever percentage majority is deemed appropriate) and fell within the statical margin of error then perhaps a plebiscite could be considered.
Recent polling indicates a clear majority of the population are in favor of marriage equality. Persisting with a plebiscite seems to be more about political machinations than democracy.
This country has come a long way in recent decades on gay rights issues but it still has a long way to go.