Article updating the arguments against same sex marriage
Enrolments closed midnight Thursday; at the end of Thursday there were more than 165,000 transactions still to be processed, with work continuing through the weekend.
With no government funding for campaigning, this battle will test the mobilisation power of both sides: those churches, lobby groups, political figures and others urging a No vote, and the marriage equality groups, Labor, Greens, Get Up! The Yes advocates are trying to narrow the issue, to centre it on the question of rights and justice for the LGBTI community.
The case has been set down for October 10-12, prolonging the uncertainty for the government, which sought a mid-September hearing.
The government is arguing that of the five referred so far (with the Nationals’ Fiona Nash and crossbencher Nick Xenophon to come), the eligibility of the Nationals’ Barnaby Joyce and Matt Canavan as well as former Greens senator Larissa Waters should be upheld.
First, they are taking it to the broad question of religious freedom in Australia, arguing this will be, if it is not already, under threat.
One sidelight of the case is that Tony Windsor, whom Joyce fended off in New England at the election, has been given leave to appear, adding further aggravation for Joyce.
A narrow, black-letter interpretation of the Constitution’s Section 44 (i) which rendered three senior Nationals ineligible to sit in parliament would cause chaos for the government and, internally, for the Coalition.
A “No” result in the postal ballot might be less immediately serious, but it would leave a running sore that would further reduce Turnbull’s diminished authority.
Michael Keating, a former head of the finance department and the prime minister’s department, strongly questions this course.
Keating sees it as an “entirely inappropriate” use of the advance and cannot recall the finance department ever being asked to facilitate the use of this fund “for a purpose that seemed unlikely to be supported by the parliament”.