Australian cabinet bickers over same-sex marriage

Canberra, Aug 14 (IANS) Divisions within the Australian government were apparent on Friday as senior ministers bickered over whether to send the issue of same-sex marriage to a referendum.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne said a public referendum regarding the issue was unnecessary, reported xinhua citing Nine Network.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said a referendum is normally used for constitutional change, so he suggested a plebiscite was the best way to have the country decide on the issue.

“We have decided to put it to the people. Obviously, that should be done through a plebiscite, because there is absolutely no reason to change the constitution,” Pyne said on Friday.

“A referendum would cost a great deal of money, in fact only to achieve no outcome because there is no legal basis for a referendum.”

Pyne said a parliamentary “free vote”, which was denied by Abbott earlier this week, was his preference.

Meanwhile, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison is pushing hard for a referendum, which would mean a majority of the states would have to vote in favour of same-sex marriage to pass the bill.

Morrison is opposed to same-sex marriage, and a referendum requires more prerequisites to pass compared to a plebiscite, which is a simple, national vote.

But on Thursday, Attorney General George Brandis said Morrison’s support of a referendum was misguided.

“I can’t imagine that there will be a referendum on this question,” he said during senate question time on Thursday. “If there were a public vote, it clearly would be a plebiscite.”

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