Tasmania’s proposed same-sex marriage laws could lose support if MLCs who oppose the reform are returned to the Legislative Council in next month’s elections.
Advocacy group Tasmanians United for Marriage Equality has been doing letterbox drops in the Pembroke, Nelson and Montgomery electorates, informing voters of candidates’ views on same-sex marriage.
Yesterday Rumney independent MLC Tony Mulder, who is not up for election, said if advocacy groups were going to make marriage equality an election issue then he would vote with whoever was returned to the upper house.
Mr Mulder was one of six MLCs who supported the same-sex marriage legislation when it was ultimately defeated by the upper house in September.
“My position with these things is that when a matter is before the Parliament when no one has a electoral mandate to do these things, then I follow my own conscience,” Mr Mulder said.
“But if you make it an election issue then I have to follow what the majority have said.”
Mr Mulder said the Legislative Council election would effectively be a poll of 20 per cent of the state, and he would accept that as a marker of community opinion even though it did not include his electorate.
“I’m fairly certain that if I did a poll in my electorate, there would not be community support for same-sex marriage,” he said.
Marriage Equality spokesman Rodney Croome urged Mr Mulder to stick to his previous vote, and not to “sway in the wind”.
Mr Croome said the group never intended to make marriage equality an election issue, only to inform people of candidates’ views.
He said it would be a different debate this year, as New Zealand and the United Kingdom have introduced marriage equality in the meantime.
Incumbent Nelson independent MLC Jim Wilkinson and Pembroke Liberal MLC Vanessa Goodwin voted against the reform.
Their rivals – independent candidate Helen Richardson and Greens candidate Tom Baxter in Nelson, and independent candidate Allison Ritchie and Greens candidate Wendy Heatley in Pembroke – support marriage equality.
In outgoing Legislative Council president Sue Smith’s seat of Montgomery, Liberal candidate Leonie Hiscutt does not support same-sex marriage while independents Ed Vincent and Cheryl Fuller do.