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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 658

Marriage

Dear Mr Vasta

I refer to your letter dated 7 November 2016 in relation to petition EN0003, which requests that the House of Representatives proceed with discussion and voting on marriage legislation amendment bills, and that parties allow a free vote.

The Government took a promise to the election that a decision on legalising same-sex marriage should be made through a vote by all Australians in a national plebiscite. The Government introduced legislation into the Parliament to enable a plebiscite to be held on 11 February 2017.

On 10 October 2016, the Government released an Exposure Draft of amendments to the Marriage Act 1961. This was the first time an Australian Government had put forward amendments to achieve same-sex marriage. Together, the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016 and Exposure Draft set out the Government's approach to resolving this issue.

On 7 November 2016, the Senate voted against the Plebiscite Bill. As such, the Government will continue to progress other policy priorities.

Thank you for bringing this petition to my attention. I appreciate the important work of the Standing Committee on Petitions in putting community concerns before the Parliament, and 1 look forward to engaging with the Committee again in the future.

Yours faithfully

from the Attorney-General Senator Brandis