The World’s Most Expensive Opinion Poll may not happen if Australia’s High Court rules it unconstitutional. And if it does, the country will be saved $122 million. The Australian Government wants to ask: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”. At a two-day Full Bench hearing starting on 5 September, the Court will be asked if:
The Australian Bureau of Statistics can collect the poll data, which isn’t its core role
The Government can spend the $122 million without Parliament’s approval
Money can be spent on seconding Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) staff to manage the poll.
Two applications were made to the Court. One from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre on behalf of Tasmanian independent member of Parliament, Andrew Wilkie, advocate Felicity Marlowe and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. The second was by the Human Rights Law Centre on behalf of Australian Marriage Equality and Greens Senator Janet Rice.
The opinion poll is a result of Australia’s major governing party governing for its extreme religious wing and not for the country. The poll is not compulsory and not binding on legislators, some of whom have said they will not necessarily take heed of it.
One of the leading ‘no’ proponents is the former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. One of the responsibilities a member of parliament is to represent her or his constituents; Tony Abbott doesn’t on this issue. Seventy percent of voters in his electorate want marriage equality.
I hope the Court finds the opinion poll is unconstitutional. Australia will be spared the outrageous expense of a pointless opinion poll. And it will be spared a harmful and destructive campaign that’s already begun.