OPINION: Marriage equality postal vote? $122million could be spent on plenty of better things

Imagine how South Coast residents would benefit if four new cancer centres were built between Wollongong and Eden. Think about how many lives would be improved if 120 much needed homeless shelters were built throughout the region.  What if the new South East Regional Hospital could be appropriately funded – whether through the Rural Doctors Settlement Package, or alternative incentives if we’re no longer “rural” – so it could attract further specialist surgeons and clinicians to our Valley? 

When you take into consideration the amount of money the federal government has earmarked for the postal vote on same sex marriage – $122 million – and think about where it could be better spent, it takes your breath away.

The plan is for what is essentially an opinion poll of dubious statistical merit, doubling up on endless polls already conducted that clearly indicate most Australians want marriage equality.

It is being conducted not to honour an election promise, but to placate the warring factions in the federal Liberal Party. The election promise for a plebiscite could not be honoured because the government was not elected with a sufficient majority; it was returned with a one seat majority and a cross-bench heavy Senate.

The money tied up in this exercise could allow a significant increase in the financial assistance grants provided to local councils, which would have benefits right across the board. Imagine how many unsealed roads BVSC could look to seal, how much of the maintenance backlog could be cleared. Imagine the flow-on benefits that would eventuate from a council freed from several of its main financial burdens.

It would pay for legal aid for the disadvantaged in many South Coast communities, help struggling parents with childcare, relieve pressure on those struggling with stratospheric power bills – the list goes on and on.

The politicians who have come forward to say Australians are fed up hearing about the issue are on the money. The opinions polls are in; the majority want change. The sky will not fall if that change is made.

There are so many other pressing issues the government needs to attend to. Further navel gazing at great cost to the taxpayer simply drags the issue out. It makes the Prime Minister look weak.

Worse, it makes the government look wasteful with our taxes.