NEWS BRIEF Malcom Turnbull, the Australian prime minister, introduced legislation Wednesday to enable a public plebiscite on same-sex marriage in February. But without the support of the opposition, center-left Labour Party, it remains unclear if such a vote will take place.
“Our opponents argue that the Australian people are too immature and to reckless to be trusted with this debate,” Turnbull said of the plebiscite in a statement Wednesday. “This insults and disrespects the Australian people.”
Turnbull, the leader of Australia’s conservative Liberal Party, has advocated for giving all Australians a say in whether existing laws on same-sex marriage, which is illegal in Australia, should be changed. Though the vote, which would be compulsory for all voting-eligible Australians, is non-binding, Turnbull said a “yes” vote would respected by Parliament.
Opposition leaders have voiced concern over the plebiscite, arguing instead Parliament should legalize same-sex marriage without a referendum, which they say would only result in a divisive—and expensive—public debate. The state-run Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports the Cabinet has agreed to allocate $7.5 million each—$15 million total—to the “yes” and “no” campaigns.