Australian PM promises public vote on equal marriage ‘as soon as possible’ following election victory

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised to bring about a public vote on equal marriage as soon as possible – after a narrow election victory.

The country’s right-wing PM Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly blocked a free Parliamentary vote on equal marriage, instead making plans to take the issue to the general public in a plebiscite to avoid a rift with his own MPs.

Opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten said a plebiscite would be expensive and pointless, and promised to introduce equal marriage through a simple vote in Parliament if victorious in this month’s election.

Following weeks of post-election uncertainty, it now appears that Turnbull has pulled off a narrow victory – and the PM has pledged to bring forward a public plebiscite as soon as possible.

In an interview with ABC’s 7.30 show, he said: “We will bring that legislation forward later this year. As to when it passes the Parliament, that will be a matter for the Parliament.

“We would like the plebiscite to be held as soon as practicable, but that will depend on when the legislation is passed.

“If it is not held in the latter half of this year, recognising that parliament will be sitting for the first time on the 30th of August, then it would be held early next year.

“My commitment to have it dealt with as soon as practicable is there, but for legislation of course we have to obtain the support of the Senate. We don’t even know who the senators will be at this stage!”

Though there is expected to be a strong majority for equal marriage in the new Parliament due to the Labor Party’s election gains, it is unclear if Labor would agree to enable a plebiscite. The government would likely have to rely on the opposition party’s votes to get the measure through.

Labor’s Bill Shorten said previously: “Let’s see what we do when we get back to parliament, but I remain completely committed to the view that the quickest and easiest way to deal with the debate on marriage equality is have a parliamentary vote.

“I think Mr Turnbull needs to pick up one of the lessons from this election…the more you stick to your own conscience and what you believe, the better this country will run.”