Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that a vote on gay marriage could be delayed until next year.
Prior to the Federal Elections at the beginning of the month, Turnbull said that if he was re-elected Prime Minister, the country would be able to vote on legalising same sex marriage before the end of 2016.
The Prime Minister’s Liberal/National Coalition won more seats than any other party at the elections and he was sworn into office for a second term. Despite this victory, he soon backtracked on his gay marriage promise.
Speaking to ABC News, Turnbull said there were still votes to be counted, especially in the Senate races, so the new government would not sit until the end of August. As a result, he claimed there may not be time to pass the legislation required for such a vote before the end of the year.
He maintained that he wanted the vote “to be held as soon as practicable, but … that will depend on when the legislation is passed”. Although his “commitment to have it dealt with as soon as practicable is there”, he would need Senate support and “we don’t even know who the senators will be at this stage”.
Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz supported the Prime Minister’s claims. A vote on gay marriage “needs to occur in an orderly fashion”, he claimed, so that both sides can “have a proper campaign, ventilate the issues, and ensure it’s a well and properly conducted campaign”.
It is “vitally important the people feel they have proper ownership of it, as opposed to it being rigged and rushed”, he insisted.
Last month, a senior advisor to the previous Prime Minister claimed the government has no ‘plan B’ should the proposed vote not result in the legalisation of gay marriage.
Photo of Sydney Harbour by Gilbert Parker via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.