The Australian Bureau of Statistics will announce the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey in Canberra at 10am today.
Nearly 80% of the eligible voters took part. The ABS released a final estimate on how many people took, with two days left for votes to arrive before the poll closed last week, saying 12.6 million forms had been returned.
The high response – Ireland’s national referendum on marriage equality had a 60.5% turnout – has many believing it points to a win for the “Yes” campaign.
Polls found support for the yes side running at 2-1 against no voters to sit above 60%, with less than 10% of voters undecided.
Before announcing the postal survey, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledged that if the result in the postal survey was a yes, then he’d seek to introduce legislation to legalise same-sex marriage by Christmas.
The House of Representatives sits for a fortnight from November 27. And while the government faces some difficulties after losing its majority in the lower house following the resignations of Barnaby Joyce and John Alexander in the dual citizenship fiasco, the issue has cross-party support and already plans are in place Liberal senator Dean Smith to introduce a private member’s bill in favour of same-sex marriage to the Senate this afternoon.
If passed, it would then go to the lower house for approval when it sits in just under a fortnight.
But it may still face a final rear-guard action from those opposed to SSM, with fellow Liberal James Patterson this week proposing an alternative bill that essentially allows business owners to put a sign in the window of their shop saying “I don’t serve gay weddings” based on “religious or conscientious belief”.
The proposal has already been rejected by Turnbull, who said yesterday while still overseas that “I don’t believe Australians would welcome, and certainly the government … would not countenance making legal, discrimination that is illegal, that is unlawful today”.
But this issue has become a stalking horse for the PM’s conservative opponents, who may try and use the debate as another opportunity to try and further weaken Turnbull’s authority, as well as seeking to postpone the inevitable – a strategy they’ve pursued throughout the SSM debate – via a series of amendments and filibustering until parliament rises.
If they do, the government, led by George Brandis in the Senate, a supporter of SSM is likely to enlist cross-party support to guillotine debate and push through the legislation.
We’ll know what happens next at 10am today and Business Insider will be updating this post with the result as soon as it happens.
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