Marriage survey the worst economic decision by any PM - Bob Hawke.

Marriage survey the worst economic decision by any PM - Bob Hawke.

Bob Hawke has lashed Malcolm Turnbull’s $122m postal survey on same-sex marriage as “the worst economic decision made by any Australian prime minister since federation”.

Hawke made the comment at the National Press Club on Wednesday, joining the former Labor foreign affairs minister Gareth Evans in attacking the survey during the question and answer session of Evans’s speech about his book Incorrigible Optimist.
Hawke argued that the postal survey “cannot produce a decision” because a bill to legislate marriage equality “still requires a vote of the parliament”.
“Whatever the result of the vote is, it costs 122 million bloody dollars,” he said. “Can you imagine a prime minister would make a decision in these stringent times, spending $122m on a process that can’t produce the result when you could do so much to reduce the gaps [in Aboriginal health and education]?
“Without any question, it’s the worst economic decision made by any Australian prime minister.”
Evans said that, while Turnbull’s instincts were “decent and civilised”, he had “sold himself completely to the trogs [troglodytes] in his party” on both marriage and energy policy. He said it was “screamingly obvious” the Australian community wanted same-sex marriage legalised.
“That is where the politicians should be prepared to go without resorting to the various divisive and indirect means of demonstrating that,” he said. “It hasn’t been a happy time for policy-making and, you know, both sides of politics have contributed something to that.
“But I think, at the moment, the real worries are much less on the opposition side, where I have to say I am impressed by the quality of the opposition frontbench.”
Evans said it was “obvious” the way forward on energy policy was a clean energy target, as recommended by the chief scientist, Alan Finkel, or some variation of one, but it was difficult for Turnbull and the energy and environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, to deliver.
Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team twice blocked a compulsory attendance vote on marriage equality in the Senate, leading to the Turnbull government launching the postal survey to fulfil its policy to give Australians a say on the marriage law.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday that an estimated 57.5% of enrolled Australians have already cast their votes in the postal survey, with a month still to go.
On Wednesday, Turnbull told the ABC’s AM program that the 57.5% turnout was a “great outcome”. “What that tells you is that Australians wanted to have their say,” he said, accusing Labor of “playing politics with the issue”.
“Already, as of last week, just under 60% have participated,” Turnbull said. “That’s a very high participation rate but it will obviously get higher.
“So I think it is a ringing endorsement of the government’s decision to give every Australian their say on this issue.”
At a press conference in Melbourne, Bill Shorten said he was pleased at the turnout but said Turnbull “could have saved $122m” by not having the postal survey and noting it had been “an ordeal for a lot of Australians”.
Asked if he had underestimated the Australian people’s desire to have their say, he replied: “Not at all. I don’t underestimate the Australian people in any fashion.”
“But what I do believe is $122m could have been spent better, it could have funded thousands of teachers or nurses.”
Shorten said Australians told him they supported marriage equality but they wanted parliament to “get on with it”.

“I think most Australians, when they stop to think about it, think parliament should just do its job because, at the end of the day, this survey will tell us what we already knew and, at the end of the day, the parliament will have a vote,” he said.

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