Same-sex marriage results - What happens next?

At 10am on Wednesday the Australian public will know the results of the same-sex marriage survey, but there is already growing assumption that the answer will be ‘yes’. 

Numerous polls during the voting period have found support for a yes vote is around two-to-one. 

Almost 80 per cent of eligible voters have returned their forms at the last count with MPs noting the high response rate to the postal survey means it will be hard to argue the final result is illegitimate. 

On October 27 the ABS said it had received 12.3 million responses which equates to 770 per cent of the 16 million eligible voters. 

In percentage comparison more people have voted on the issue of same-sex marriage in Australian than Britains voted on Brexit and Americans voted in the last presidential election. 

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Meet David Kalisch 

He's set to be the Juan Antonio Samaranch of the same-sex marriage postal survey. But chances are, you've never heard of David Kalisch.

Come Wednesday at 10am, all eyes will be on the economist who has made his career in the public service. As the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Kalisch has the job of announcing the highly anticipated results of the same-sex marriage postal survey.

He promises not to make people wait ages for the punchline, Rob Oakeshott-style.

"We are working on a relatively short and succinct speech," he says.

Australian Statistician David Kalisch ahead of the postal survey announcement.  Photo: Andrew Meares

Australian Statistician David Kalisch ahead of the postal survey announcement. Photo: Andrew Meares

Support for the ‘yes’ campaign 

Early opinion polls are predicting up to 60 per cent support or more for the yes campaign. 

Based on an analysis of polls published between August 1 and October 2 pollster John Stirton concluded with the majority of votes already cast the yes has won. 

"It's very hard to see how the 'no' case could win from here unless an awful lot of people are straight-out lying to pollsters," he said.

Could there be a 'no’ win? 

Griffith University researches have suggested there could be a narrow victory for the no vote based on an analysis of Australian tweets about the survey last month. They show the result could be a narrow defeat of the yes campaign with 49.17% support. 

The researches used a similar method to accurately predict the US presidential election, Brexit vote and Australia’s 2016 federal election. 

So what next? 

If it’s a YES vote: Same-sex marriage still won’t be legal in Australia if the answer on Wednesday from the Australian public is yes. 

The non-binding, voluntary poll is only a guide for the politicians on how they will treat the issue in parliament and at this stage there is no confirmed bill the MPs and Senators will vote on. 

Coalition MPs would be granted a free vote to decide whether the result is passed into law, and it’s likely to be held before the end of the year. 

The non-binding, voluntary poll is only a guide for the politicians on how they will treat the issue in parliament. Photo: Shutterstock

The non-binding, voluntary poll is only a guide for the politicians on how they will treat the issue in parliament. Photo: Shutterstock

If it’s a NO vote: That’s it then. If the majority of Australian’s vote no then from the Coalition’s perspective, it means the discussion is off the table for the foreseeable future. 

"If the people have spoken against it, we won't be proposing it at the next election I can assure you,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. 

One Liberal MP told Fairfax Media a vote in the negative would end any attempts within the Liberal party for reform, saying ‘it’s dead, it’s done.’ 

In the Labor party, even if the result is ‘no’ they are holding to their pledge to introduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage if they win the next election. Of course this also means waiting until the next election for a parliamentary vote and then it also depends on a Labor victory and any future 

Skywriting above Sydney's CBD during the same-sex marriage campaign.  Photo: James Alcock

Skywriting above Sydney's CBD during the same-sex marriage campaign. Photo: James Alcock

If it’s a super close vote: Neither side will really be able to clam a win. Already Tony Abbott has said any ‘no’ vote of 40 per cent would be a ‘moral victory’. A close vote, with a narrow ‘yes’ victory would give an added boost to the push among conservative Liberal MPs to include multiple exemptions in any bill to favour those who don’t support the reform. 

with smh.com.au