Damian bangs equality drum

August 11, 2017

DAMIAN Drum is adamant he will vote in favour of marriage equality if the nation supports changing the law through a plebiscite.

After the Federal Government’s second attempt to hold a compulsory plebiscite was quashed in the Senate earlier this week, it pushed ahead with plans to hold a voluntary postal plebiscite instead.

The non-binding plebiscite is estimated to cost $122 million and voters will start receiving ballots next month, ahead of a final count in November.

A High Court challenge has already been launched with litigants — including Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie — arguing the postal vote breaches the constitution.

Mr Drum, the Federal Member for Murray, has previously declared he had changed his mind on the issue of same-sex marriage and now favoured it.

He has also been publicly vocal in support of a national plebiscite.

‘‘I see both views and I’ve always been prepared to accept the Australian people’s decision in this,’’ he said.

Mr Drum’s position on marriage equality is at odds with several of his Nationals colleagues.

In the past, Senator Bridget McKenzie has said she will vote against changing the law, even if there is overwhelming support from the plebiscite.

Andrew Broad, the Member for Mallee, has likened same-sex relations to ‘‘rams in a paddock’’, while in 2015 party leader Barnaby Joyce claimed Asia would view Australia as ‘‘decadent’’ if marriage equality was legalised.

Mr Drum acknowledged there were ‘‘some strong views’’ in the party but said he had no qualms with asserting his support for same-sex marriage.

‘‘No-one in the party room has ever tried to convince me that my decision isn’t right, nor that my opinion is wrong or my position on this is inferior to others,’’ he said.

‘‘And I think the National Party is reasonably reflective of broader rural and regional Australia.

‘‘And that is there are a handful of people who are in favour, there’s a large proportion who feel they have much more important things to worry about, and there’s a range of people at the end who would — if same-sex couples wanted to be together — rather they use a different word; provided they are afforded every legal right of a married couple.’’

Mr Drum said he hoped the legal challenges to the plebiscite failed so Australians can vote and ‘‘put this to bed once and for all’’.

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