Media Release

Additional Safeguards to facilitate Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey

MC 56/17

Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia

12 September 2017

The Government is honouring its commitment to give the Australian people a say on whether or not the law should be changed to allow same sex couples to marry through the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. 

Given this process is conducted through the ABS, not all the usual safeguards under our Electoral Laws apply to this process – unless the Parliament specifically provides for them in legislation. 

As the Government has been saying for some time, we want this process to be fair and for Australians to get the opportunity to have their say in an appropriate environment. 

We have been exploring in good faith how we can complement existing legal protections under current laws further – principally by ensuring that all of the usual relevant safeguards under our Electoral Laws apply to this process as appropriate. 

This includes provisions to ensure relevant authorisations on advertisements, reasonable opportunity to have opposing views broadcast, offences against bribery and threats and the prohibition of misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to the completion of survey forms. 

That is why tomorrow the Government will introduce into the Senate the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Bill 2017, which will provide for those safeguards. 

This Bill will also propose a further safeguard against vilification, intimidation and threats to cause harm because of the views expressed or believed to be held in relation to the Survey, or because of the religious conviction, sexual orientation or gender identity or intersex status of a particular person or group. 

This legislation would be in effect for the limited period between its commencement and the declaration of a result on 15 November 2017. 

The Australian Marriage Law Survey is about giving all Australians on the Electoral Roll and eligible to vote in an election the opportunity to have their say consistent with their conscience. 

We urge all campaigners on both sides of this debate to express their arguments with courtesy and respect.

[ENDS]

Media Contact(s): 

Karen Wu - 0428 350 139