Last week, the government issued a statement that it will go on with the nonbinding, non-compulsory postal vote.
“We back the constitutional challenge that is expected to be heard on 5th and 6th September,” said Nicholas Stewart, co-chair of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights.
Mr. Stewart said that the organisation condemned the proposal because it was likely to cause more harm than good. It will encourage hate speech against the community members, their children and their families at large. Hence, the postal vote will not produce a statistically meaningful outcome.
The co-chair has called upon all Australians to come together and question the government’s intention for funding the postal vote. ALHR has taken this brave step to support the current constitutional challenge to the funding of this ridiculous and divisive proposal.
The organisation claimed that it is not right to decide human rights issues by using some Australian voters to get voluntary postal response. Mr. Stewart said that the proposal cannot be voted in or out of existence because it does not favour the fundamental principle that human rights derive from human dignity.
Mr. Stewart also added that the Minister for Finance is not allowed by the Australian Constitution to fund such proposals.
Please take note that no funds can be drawn from the Consolidated Fund, thanks to s83 of the Constitution.
ALHR questioned the government’s decision to make some powerful moves beyond the Constitution. “What precedent is the government setting for the formulation of government in the future if it is prepared to embrace voluntary postal opinions on such a crucial human rights issue?” said Mr. Stewart while speaking to Aussie Lawyer Blog.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has also gone ahead to provide what is beyond their role.
“I believe that the funding of the postal vote by the government is unconstitutional,” said Ryan Goss, senior lecturer in Law at the Australian Nation University.
Mr. Gross said that the government may need to pass legislation approving the expenditure on a postal ballot unless it is able to bring the polls within a narrow range of exceptions.
Many opinion polls have consistently shown that more than 60% of Australians support same-sex marriage. With $122 million to be spent on the exercise, ALHR views this as wastage of taxpayer money.
“In my view, I think the non-compulsory, nonbinding vote may not provide a positive or meaningful result,” said Kathryn Cramp, co-chair of ALHR’s LGBTI committee.
She added that the concept of a voluntary postal vote is fundamentally flawed because it cannot produce either a genuine statistical survey or an electoral vote.
Mr. Stewart said that the postal vote will not be subject to control by the Australian Electoral Commission and will not involve all voters. Mr. Stewart noted that back in 1997; Prime Minister Turnbull himself opposed the postal vote system with an argument that it will disenfranchise voters and contravene basic democratic values.