Chester supports postal plebiscite

A postal plebiscite is the only credible pathway forward to resolve same-sex marriage legislation, according to Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

Yesterday the Senate rejected the federal government’s second bid for a compulsory postal plebiscite, forcing the government to adopt its plan-B of a voluntary postal vote.

Mr Chester previously told The Express he believed a compulsory attendance national plebiscite was the fairest way to resolve the issue and was disappointed Labor and the Greens voted against it.

“It’s disappointing Labor and the Greens don’t trust Australians enough to let them have a say on the issue of same-sex marriage,” Mr Chester said yesterday.

He acknowledged the free vote for Australians would come at a considerable cost, however remains firm in his party’s election commitment to not change the Marriage Act without giving Australians a say.

“I believe most Gippslanders want to express their views and I’m sure they will participate in this public debate in a respectful and moderate way,” Mr Chester said.

The Coalition seeks to have ballot papers mailed to people enrolled to vote from 12 September, for a voluntary ballot conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics at an expected cost of $122 million.

Mr Chester said the ballot was an opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of one another and our tolerance for alternative points of view.

“I think it is important that the debate does not divide our community,” he said.

Mr Chester intends to vote ‘yes’ in the postal plebiscite, however said he would “respect the wishes of the majority when it comes time to vote in the Federal Parliament”.

Coalition MPs will be able to vote in parliament on a bill to legalise same-sex marriage if a majority ‘yes’ comes from the plebiscite.

The government will scrap the free vote if the proposed postal plebiscite yields a ‘no’ result.

The Express sought comment from Federal Member for McMillan Russell Broadbent who was unable to respond by time of publication.