The Premier of the Australian state of Victoria, Ted Baillieu, has been accused of failing to deliver on an election commitment to allow a conscience vote on same-sex marriage after a spokesman told The Sunday Age newspaper that he had no plans to follow other states’ moves in that direction.
‘Clearly the [federal parliament] has undisputed authority to deal with this matter,’ the spokesman told The Sunday Age.
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convener Anna Brown called on Baillieu to allow a conscience vote.
‘It is time for state and territory parliamentarians to show leadership in an area where the federal government has failed,’ she told The Age.
The Victorian Greens have a bill before the Victorian Parliament however neither the ruling Liberal Party or opposition Victorian Labor Party seems keen to support the move, citing concerns about the legality of state based marriage legislation when Australia consolidated its marriage laws into a national Marriage Act in 1961.
‘I do have some concerns about that,’ Victorian Opposition leader Daniel Andrews said when asked by The Age if he would be prepared to co-sponsor a bill.
‘I support same sex marriage, but I don’t think anyone would be served well by having a marriage that is recognized in Wodonga but not in Albury.’
Albury-Wodonga are twin cities that sit either side of the Murray river, with Albury located in the neighboring state of New South Wales and Wodonga in Victoria.
Premier Baillieu was asked during the 2010 Victorian election campaign whether he would allow a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, to which he replied ‘All such issues would be a conscience vote for us’
A bill to legalize same-sex marriage was narrowly voted down in the Australian state of Tasmania this week. However the states of South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales are still to hold votes on same-sex marriage.
The Liberal Premier of New South Wales, Barry O’Farrell, will allow a conscience vote on the issue for his MPs, while legislation in South Australia will be introduced by a Labor Government MP early next year.