BY ALEX EUGENE
The City of Sydney has made it clear they are optimistic about the outcome of the same-sex marriage postal vote, after locking in a major freebie for gay couples in lieu of their legal ability to wed.
Last week the council’s only Labor councillor, Linda Scott successfully moved a motion that would allow City community venues and parks to be used free of charge for same-sex marriages.
Usage fees will be waived for 100 days after marriage equality laws are potentially passed in Federal Parliament, upon the successful ‘yes’ outcome of the national postal survey.
Cr. Scott, who has been a long-time advocate of marriage equality, also called on the government to bring the news laws into effect before the end of the 2017 parliamentary sitting, rather than dragging it out to the following year.
“We didn’t want this $122 million dollar survey, and it has been a bruising process for many. As a Labor councillor, I’m proud that the City of Sydney has actively supported the Yes campaign,” Cr. Scott said.
But not the whole council was united in favour of the motion.
Liberal councillor Christine Forster, who has lived with her same-sex partner for some years and has fiercely opposed her brother Tony Abbott’s ‘No’ stance, was not supportive of the free venue motion. Cr. Forster told City Hub that it “sends a signal completely opposite” to the aims of the equality debate.
“I did not support the proposal to offer free venue hire to same-sex couples only, and sought to amend the motion to include ALL couples who wish to marry during the period. When that amendment was defeated, I voted against the motion on the basis that it flies against what we have been fighting for, which is equal rights for all, not special rights for any particular group. The equality campaign has been all about making marriage more inclusive, not exclusive,” she said.
Alex Greenwich, independent member for Sydney and a YES Campaigner took to Twitter yesterday, saying that the government owed Australians equality after ripping them off with the taxpayer-funded plebiscite.
“After giving us the $120 million bill for the survey, Aussies won’t cop any further games being played with the lives of LGBTI people,” he said.
Shirleen Robinson, a spokesperson for the group, urged voters who had not yet returned their forms to get them in this week, to ensure a positive outcome.
“We can only guarantee equality by sending a strong YES result to politicians. And that means everyone needs to get their YES vote back to the ABS in whichever way guarantees its arrival before the final deadline of 6pm, 7 November,” she said.
Forms must be received by the ABS by 6pm on November 7, and will still reach offices on time if posted this week. Forms can also be dropped off in person at any office in the country until 4.30pm on the day.
The latest figures released this week by the ABS confirmed that 77% of eligible voters had returned their votes, which represented around 12.3 million Australians – 40,000 more than last week’s tally.