COMMENT: Time to have your say on marriage equality debate

From Tuesday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will start sending postal ballots to households across Australia.

The questions is simple: Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?

The postal vote was on a knife’s edge up until yesterday before the High Court dismissed two challenges to the Federal Government’s same-sex marriage postal survey.

"The court is unanimously of the view that the application should be dismissed," Chief Justice Susan Kiefel told a packed court in Melbourne at 2.15pm on Thursday.

Whether you’re firmly in the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ side of the vote, or simply don’t want to have a say, there is no denying that it is time to settle this question once and for all.

The debate has raged on the federal political landscape for the bulk of the 21st Century and now Australians can have their say on the matter.

According to the True Issues quarterly survey published by JWS Research last month, marriage equality is an area of high concern for only six per cent of voters.

Hospitals and healthcare, education and training and economy and finances dominated voter concerns, while national security and the cost of living also rose to be matters of great interest.

That does not suggest that amending the Marriage Act is not an important issue, rather there are more pressing ones facing Australians.

During Question Time at Parliament House on Thursday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull seemed a relieved man following the High Court’s decision, telling the Parliament that he and his wife Lucy would be voting ‘yes’.

Some Bega Valley residents will follow the Prime Minister’s lead, while others will vote ‘no’. Residents on both sides of the debate have voiced their concern about being vilified for their views on the Marriage Act.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann best summed up how we should approach voting in the postal survey, regardless of preferences: “We encourage all those involved in campaigning for either the yes or no cases to do so with courtesy and respect,” he said.

So let’s all have a say in a manner that is civilised and considerate, not steeped in vitriol and malice.

Surveys should be returned by 6pm on October 27, before statistics are released on November 15.


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