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Byron Shire
March 9, 2021

Gay marriage to stick on political agenda

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Labor will push for parliamentary scrutiny into ballot fraud, bribery and hate speech during campaigning in the postal survey on same-sex marriage.

The issue of legalising same-sex marriage is likely to continue to dominate the political agenda this week despite the Turnbull government’s hopes to move focus to other matters like power prices.

Labor senators Louise Pratt and Jenny McAllister hope on Monday to convince the Senate to set up an inquiry into the national voluntary survey run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

They want it to examine how the ABS will collect and report people’s views on same-sex marriage, what protections there are against offensive, misleading or intimidating campaigning, whether there will be rules around advertising and fraud, and whether some voters will be disenfranchised.

There are concerns around the high number of young people who may not be on the electoral roll or are registered at old addresses, and voters who are overseas.

The electoral commission fielded 68,000 enquiries about enrolment last Thursday – well up on its usual 4000 daily queries.

Cabinet minister Josh Frydenberg on Sunday said he would encourage as many people as possible in his electorate to participate in the postal survey and vote “yes”.

But unlike swimming legend Ian Thorpe, he won’t be joining a national campaign.

The postal survey faces two High Court challenges, which will be heard early in September.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus believed it was a 50/50 chance the court would allow the government to go ahead with the survey.

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