Plebiscite Dead But Not Buried As Turnbull Clings To Senate Vote

Labor is already moving to try on a free vote in the parliament.

11/10/2016 2:22 PM AEDT | Updated 11/10/2016 7:20 PM AEDT
Alex Ellinghausen, Fairfax
Labor could not 'in good conscience' support the plebiscite.

CANBERRA -- Marriage equality groups are celebrating Labor's seeming death blow to the Turnbull Government's $170 million same-sex marriage plebiscite, however Senate crossbenchers are now firmly in the government's sights as it refuses to concede defeat.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced Tuesday that Labor could not "in good conscience" support such a "shocking waste of money" and cited "overwhelming" evidence of the harm that the plebiscite would cause members of the LGBTI community.

The Government needed Labor's votes to get the plebiscite through the Senate, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated Labor's pledge to block it is not the end of the road.

"We say we have a mandate on it and we are asking the Senate to do their job and support," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

Andrew Meares, Fairfax
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten met with rainbow families at Parliament House

A bitterly disappointed Liberal MP Warren Entsch has accused Labor, in voting to block the plebiscite, of "squandering" the best chance to bring in marriage equality in Australia.

He also says the plebiscite, which is his "last personal shot" on marriage equality, is not dead yet.

"We have still have got to go the Senate, so I am not prepared to give up on the issue at this point of time," he told HuffPost Australia.

"I will be reminding the (crossbenchers) of what their commitments were only a year ago in relation to this."

What's next for marriage equality?

The plebiscite legislation is still being debated in the House and will go to a vote.

It will pass the lower house, but the Turnbull Government does not currently have the numbers to pass it in the Senate

Labor is moving on plans for a free vote in parliament.

A private members bill for same sex marriage is sitting in the House, but there's a theory that a similar bill originating in the Senate may have better luck.

Alex Ellinghausen, Fairfax
Rodney Croome comforts Shelley Argent after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's press conference at Parliament House

Labor is now working towards its preferred model of achieving marriage equality, a free vote in parliament and Mr Shorten has promised Labor will be "pressing our case in days and weeks to come."

He's declared the issue of marriage equality has not been killed off for this term of parliament.

"There is more than one door to open to achieve marriage equality," Mr Shorten told reporters in Canberra.

"The easiest way is the way which this Parliament has done for a hundred years -- legislate, debate it."

But Mr Turnbull won't say if he will allow a parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage.

"It's all very well to say you know the Senate won't vote for it -- we respect the Senate," he said.

"The bill isn't even in the Senate yet. The Senate has to deal with the bill."

"That's the focus. We are delivering on our commitment to the Australian people to bring a plebiscite before the Parliament."

However, Mr Shorten is backed by families who are hopeful that a Plan B for same-sex marriage may emerge with the support of Turnbull.

"We think stopping the plebiscite was absolutely the best decision that could be done at this point in time," Felicity Marlowe from the Rainbow Families Council told HuffPost Australia.

"It is now in the hands of the government. They just need to show leadership," she said.

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