Lobbyists on either side of the “argument” about same-sex marriage are being asked to back off as the voluntary Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey begins.
Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton had advice for lobbyists and residents of his electorate on Tuesday as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) began distributing survey forms to 16 million Australians.
From Canberra, the MP and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives suggested lobbyists were currently wasting their time.
“I don’t think there would be anyone in Australia that doesn’t have an opinion on this,” he said.
Mr Coulton said respect should be shown to people as they prepared to complete the survey form based on “what they believe and what they want”.
“I don’t think they need people from both sides of the argument screaming at them about what’s the correct thing to do,” he said.
The MP’s advice to his 150,000 constituents is “have your say”.“Take the time to fill out the survey form,” he said. “You can do it in the privacy of your own home. It won’t take more than a couple of minutes. I know that the process is not ideal for everyone but it is the process in place.”
On Tuesday a Fairfax-Ipsos poll of 1400 people suggested 65 per cent of Australians would complete a survey form, with 70 per cent of them marking its “yes” box.
But Mr Coulton said polls were not always accurate. “Cast your mind back to the republican debate,” he said. “All the indicators and all the media were pointing to Australia overwhelming wanting a republic but when the people went to the referendum the result was very different.” The MP hopes that the survey will result in a “clear response” from Australians.
This week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull encouraged all Australians to take part in the survey and mark the “yes” box on the survey form. "If two gay people down the road who are living together decide to get married, how does that threaten my nearly 38-year-old marriage to Lucy? Of course it doesn't," he told Triple M radio.
Information about the survey can be found at marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au.
The ABS is encouraging survey participants to complete and return the survey form quickly in an accompanying reply-paid envelope. Forms must be returned to the ABS by October 27. The survey results will be published on the ABS website on November 15.