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If only Turnbull had some authority

Yesterday, the High Court ruled it was lawful for the Federal Government to go ahead with a voluntary, non-binding public opinion poll on whether all consenting adult couples in Australia should have the right to marry. The taxpayer funded survey will cost $122 million and will have no direct effect on legal rights.

Instead, the faux-plebiscite, will record how many Australians can be bothered to tick a box on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope, and deliver it to a letterbox to find its way back to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

While Australians will be given the opportunity to select YES or NO to the question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” the very nature of a voluntary, paper-based survey is deeply problematic.

As Malcolm Turnbull said himself in 1997, before he lost what was left of his credibility:

“The voluntary postal voting method … flies in the face of Australian democratic values. …It is likely to ensure that not only will a minority of Australians vote, but also that large sections of the community will be disfranchised.”

The faux-plebiscite was the brain-child of habitual human-rights-violator, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. After the Senate twice voted down the legislatively authorised version, the Turnbull Government opted to subvert democracy by putting to the people a non-compulsory ballot. It will have no value other than to subject gay Australians to lengthy public debate on their worth in society, including hateful propaganda and threats of violence.

The postal vote is an obvious attempt by the far-right conservatives in the Liberal Party, to delay marriage equality for as long as possible. Not satisfied with being able to publicly register their disapproval of same-sex marriage in a free parliamentary vote, they intend to expose gay Australians to months of homophobic rhetoric before the inevitable change occurs.

Successive statistically valid polls have demonstrated repeatedly that a majority of Australians, which now includes a majority of Catholics and other people of faith, support marriage equality. Yet Turnbull persists with a voluntary paper-based survey – the results of which can be ignored by Government, and which bears the real risk that ambivalent and busy supporters will fail to lodge a vote, if they receive a ballot paper at all.

This postal survey should not be happening.

But it is. And now all Australians who support fairness and equality must ensure the YES vote wins.

Papers will begin to be mailed out on Tuesday, 12 September 2017, and should be posted back to the ABS no later than Friday, 27 October 2017. Votes received after Tuesday, 7 November 2017 will not be counted.

The survey may not be compulsory, and it is certainly unnecessary, but failing to participate will play right into the hands of those who seek to deny equal rights to LGBTI couples.

All Australians can show support for the YES campaign by following Australian Marriage Equality and GetUp! and involving themselves in the suggested actions.

But most importantly, all eligible voters can show support, by voting YES on the postal survey as soon as it arrives. And once the YES box is ticked, take the form to a post box and mail it back to the ABS to be counted.


“It’s not Fair” (In support of marriage equality) – A Lily Allen parody by Eva Cripps and Kim Phillips

Lyrics: E Cripps; Vocals: K Phillips; Backing track from YouTube channel “Lily Allen – Instrumentals and Acapellas”


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  1. Michael Taylor

    This postal survey should not be happening.

    But it is. And now all Australians who support fairness and equality must ensure the YES vote wins.

    I’m disappointed that the vote is going ahead, and the smugness in the Liberal camp (no pun intended) after getting the gong from the High Court is pathetic.

    I feel sad for the gay people who will now have to endure a hateful campaign. I have friends and relatives who are gay, and try as I may I will never be able to fully grasp the effects of the bullying and ridicule they have had to contend with all their lives. I fear for some of them, as we can expect that the hate and bullying will go into overdrive for the next couple of weeks.

    They will suffer. They have always suffered.

    But now that the vote is going ahead I can’t wait for the YES vote to win and I will feel great pleasure in watching Turnbull wriggle and squirm when he is faced with the decision of respecting the will of the people, or bending to the will of a few extreme hard-right nutters in his party.

    He will not come out of this unscathed. He deserves nothing less.

  2. Michael Taylor

    By the way, great article, Eva.

  3. Ricardo29

    I await with interest the High Court’s reasoning for what, it seems to me, is a wrong decision. I agree with all of the above despite being a 70+ straight white male, supposedly part of the demographic expected to vote no. This ‘vote’ is a travesty, but there is no avenue of appeal against a High Court decision.

  4. diannaart

    Eva, great article, fab song.

    @ Ricardo29

    I too am interested in the reasoning behind the High Court’s decision, When I heard the result yesterday afternoon, I experienced another “WTF” moment among the many I have experienced since Tony Abbott as PM, Brexit, Trump and now.

    Now I do not know what to expect any more.

    There is no guarantee the “yes” vote will get up.

    There is no guarantee if the vote is positive for equal marriage – our Federal government will vote in accord.

    That this postal poll was always a delaying tactic, an expensive delaying tactic appears to have passed the High Court by.

    To quote a nasally challenged senate pollie”

    “Please explain”.

  5. stephengb2014

    I am with you Ricardo29.
    I am perplexed as to how the Judiciary has found the legal framework to go against the fact that Parliament has twice said NO to a formal pebacite, indicating to me at least that there is No urgancy or emergancy.
    Then there is the question, how does the Judiciary allow the Executive to skirt around the seration of powers and ignore the constitutional requirement that the Government must seek approval from Parliament for appropriation from the public purse.

    S G B

  6. Gordon Comisari

    Remember the monarchist slogan “if you don’t know – vote NO?”. Lots of Aussies simply didn’t get it! It didn’t bother them that they were called ignorant and stupid. Are they going to fall for it again?

  7. bobrafto

    Here I go with another conspiracy theory.

    4 of the seven judges have been appointed since 2015.

    These judges ruled that the govt. can imprison refugees, these same judges have allowed the postal vote to proceed and these same judges will deem Joyce to be valid.

    “The High Court will so hold” said Turnbull in regard to Joyce and this isn’t a cryptic message.

    The unholy trinity is now complete the LNP have the AFP in one pocket and the judges in the other.

  8. diannaart


    Whether it is a conspiracy or merely an ‘unfortunate sequence of events’ conspiring to bring about inhumane decisions, I agree.

    I fully expect Joyce and other LNP suspects to be exonerated, the 2 greens senators to have their resignations remain as accepted, their honourable behaviour to be forgotten and everything returns to ‘normal’ – normal if you live in a bubble called ‘wealthy and entitled’.

  9. Florence nee Fedup

    Dianmaart if what you say comes true, we can only believe the HC has become politicised, along with AFP, Army, Border Force, Immigration, ABC & FWA.

  10. Kyran

    Sooo, wait a minute. Dutton, the architect of this complete and utter mess up, is the one who doesn’t recognize the authority of courts? Can that be right? This is ‘the bloke’ who does not acknowledge that nearly 40% of his decisions are reversed in the AAT. This is ‘the bloke’ who doesn’t even recognize the High Court.

    “When the High Court delivers a judgment, most parties take time to consider it carefully. Not Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Within an hour of the court handing down a decision today overturning Dutton’s use of secret information to cancel the visa of Tasmanian based former New Zealander AJ Graham, Dutton cancelled Graham’s visa again.”

    “The High Court, with one judge, James Edelman, dissenting, found that the secret information provision was invalid to the extent that it prevented the courts from obtaining access to that information when it was relevant to the minister for immigration’s decision. As the summary of the judgment published by the court notes, Dutton has misunderstood his power in thinking that he was prevented “from in any circumstances being required to divulge or communicate certain information including to a court engaged in judicial review of the impugned decisions”.”

    “But Dutton and his department were not going to take the time to consider the High Court’s lengthy and complex judgment. Within an hour of the decision the minister had revoked Graham’s visa yet again.”

    “I am not aware of any minister or government in Australia’s history moving so swiftly to react to an adverse decision of the High Court. This is Australia’s highest court. Its judgments need to be read carefully and the implications of its decisions thought through carefully before responding. Dutton’s actions today — like his actions last December — have the feel and look of an authoritarian who has contempt for the independence of the court system and who is obsessed with getting his own way.”

    Peter Dutton cancels visa a third time, undermines the High Court in under an hour

    How could it possibly be that someone with no respect for the law, an ex-copper, is such an advocate for the law? A High Court decision, no less.
    Ooops, my bad. This miserable piece of crap, this miserable excuse for a human being, this intellectually, morally, ethically, challenged thing, has finally found a court that will vindicate his miserable existence.
    The High Court, no less.
    Like so many commenters, I can’t wait for the reasoning behind the decision. To inform myself.
    Unlike dutton. The architect of so many structural collapses, he only seeks to inform himself when it suits his agenda.
    If only talcum had authority. He could rid us of this menace. That this menace is his successor is talcum’s problem.
    That we have to live with it is ours.
    Thank you Ms Cripps and commenters. Take care
    PS. By way of disclosure, I’m not a Dutton fan. Just in case that escaped you.

  11. diannaart

    @ Florence nee Fedup

    Has the HC become politicised? A (very brief) foray into recent decisions revealed both good and bad decisions (depending upon one’s political leanings) I cannot say for sure if the HC has been seeded by far right conservative shills.

    Until we are given the reasoning behind the unanimous rejection of ALL the claims made by the plaintiffs – who can say?

    @ Kyran

    Dutton makes Turncoat and the Abbottoir look as pure as… well, at least the driven slush.

    …. and I have just found a major problem with damp in my home! It is all the LNP’s fault! 😛

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