Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said that the proposed plebiscite is already divisive.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has spoken out against the proposed marriage equality plebiscite. He commented that the debate could turn hostile and urged the federal government to introduce legislation for marriage equality. Andrews argued that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should instead allow his party a conscience vote.

Currently, the PM plans to continue with the public plebiscite, originally introduced by the Abbott government. If the majority of Australians vote in favour of marriage equality, Turnbull says he plans to introduce legislation. The plebiscite is not projected to take place until 2017.

Andrews asked why Australia needs to conduct a plebiscite on the topic. He said, “We didn’t have a plebiscite to change the Marriage Act under John Howard to say marriage was between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. Why do we need to have a separate, stand-alone election with all the bitterness and spite that will come from that?”

Mr. Andrews has recently spoken out against the government’s decision to reform the anti-bullying Safe Schools program. 

The Victorian government has already estimated that it would cost the government around $300,000 to continue implementing the Safe Schools program across Victoria. Victorian Education Minister James Merlino wants the Safe Schools program to be compulsory across the state by the end of 2018.

Merlino said he would not adopt the changes suggested by the federal government and will fund the program “with or without federal government support.” He added, “The Andrews Labor government does not accept the federal government’s recommendations, which completely undermine the Safe Schools Coalition anti-bullying program.”