Same-sex marriage postal vote makes MP think twice

CONSIDERING HIS OPTIONS: Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton will reassess how to vote on same-sex marriage if the result of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is close and his electorate favours the "no" vote. Photo: File
CONSIDERING HIS OPTIONS: Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton will reassess how to vote on same-sex marriage if the result of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is close and his electorate favours the "no" vote. Photo: File

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton is considering what to do if the result of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is close and the majority of  his constituents vote “no”.

Previously, he has told them of his intention to support same-sex marriage if the “clear majority of Australians vote yes”.

But on the eve of the release of the survey result, the MP is covering all bases despite reporting “all predictions are that the majority of Australians will support change to the Marriage Act”.

“What I have said is that if a clear majority of Australians say yes and Parkes says no ...I will support the clear majority and vote that way,” he said on Tuesday morning.

“But if it’s 51 per cent to 49 per cent, and 55 per cent of voters in Parkes have said no, then I’m going to have to reassess my position.”

Survey results will be announced at marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au/results at 10am on Wednesday.

READ MORE: MP supports postal ballot and Call for respect during survey.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will reveal how many eligible Australians voted “yes” and “no” to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

Official statistics will be delivered at federal electoral division, state/ territory and national levels.

The imminent release of the survey results is being felt among members of the gay community who will gather at the Quality Inn Dubbo on Wednesday night.

Spokeswoman Kris Stevens said the get-together would go ahead “no matter what” the outcome of the survey. “I’m hoping like crazy that it’s going to be a yes because that’s a step in the right direction,” she said.

Co-owner and operator of the Quality Inn Dubbo, Kerrieanne Nichols, is worried that the survey will not deliver a convincing “yes” vote. She argues that the campaign in support of same-sex marriage should have focused solely on “equality”. “ I strongly believe that if they had started down that road, they would have perhaps got more acceptance from people,” Ms Nichols said. “.. if you  say to  someone “Do you think this person deserves equal rights, whether they are  gay or straight?”, no one would say no to that.”

Mr Coulton suggests a win for the “yes” campaign might be acted upon immediately. “My sense is that it would probably be dealt with when we go back (to parliament) in the last week of November,” he said.