Oakeshott: Do you support same-sex marriage? 

PORT Macquarie MP RobOakeshott believes a bipartisan approach could well see Australian votershaving their say on same-sex marriage.

The Lyne MP believes theSeptember 14 federal election is the ideal opportunity to put a“plebiscite-style question” to the people.

The catch – if there isone, and Mr Oakeshott feels it can be overcome, – is that it all parties needto agree on the question.

“If there’s amulti-party agreement then I think there’s a lot to be said about getting somedirection from the people,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“It’s hard to argueagainst the collective view of the Australian people.”

The MP was quick topoint out that despite the obvious policy differences between the two major parties,bipartisanship was not a foreign concept to this parliament.

He cited the recentNational Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Bill as one prime example.

Late MarchCoalition MPs praised the government and Community Services Minister JennyMacklin, who described the bill as the most significant social reform since theintroduction of Medicare.

Add tothat NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s decision to sign up to the Gillardgovernment’s education funding reform package and Mr Oakeshott believesagreement is possible.

Another ofthe crossbenchers, New England MP Tony Windsor, prompted the latest round ofdiscussion on marriage equality earlier this week.

“Discussionof same-sex marriage hasn’t fallen away despite the recent rejection of theproposal by the federal parliament and local people continue to lobby me bothfor and against change,” the Tamworth-based MP said.

MrOakeshott’s experience in his electorate has been similar. Interest in theissue, he said, has grown over time.

“For along while it wasn’t high on the radar. It wasn’t so much of an issue at the 2010federal election. At the 2008 by-election it didn’t really feature and the samecan be said of the 2007 general election.

“But whenpoliticians started to get involved with the work of the High Court, groupsbecame interested and over the last two years a lot has changed.”

A referendum-style question, Mr Oakeshott said would be as simple as: Do you support same-sex marriage?

It is, he said, “a sensible and natural next step”to a socially significant question.

A referendum question, Mr Oakeshott said would be as simple as: Do you support same-sex marriage?

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