back to top

Senator Says Endless Same-Sex Marriage Debate Like "Chinese Water Torture"

Senator Cory Bernardi also slammed a nationwide vote on marriage as a "glorified opinion poll".

Posted on

Government backbencher Cory Bernardi has finally said what many have suspected for some time: A nationwide plebiscite on marriage would be a "glorified opinion poll".

Stefan Postles / AAPIMAGE

His honest comments come hours after Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie said she would vote "no" on same-sex marriage regardless of the outcome of a popular vote.

Current government policy is to ask the Australian people whether they want same-sex marriage in a non-binding, nationwide poll known as a plebiscite.

Last year, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull told the parliament that whatever the Australian people decide, "that decision will stick".

However, Bernardi told Sky News he has never been someone who is happy to "bow to the whims of what is popular public opinion".

"A plebiscite is a glorified opinion poll, and no government should be bound by that."

Bernardi also called for the "attempted legislation by boredom" of same-sex marriage activists to stop.

"We've had 16 bills over ten years, none of them have passed, and yet advocates don't want to accept it doesn't have parliamentary support."

"It's like Chinese water torture, you're just getting these drips on you all the time saying 'We're going to bludgeon you into submission'."

Bernardi also said he would expect same-sex marriage to pass the parliament if the Australian people indicate their support in a plebiscite.

However, he rejects the notion that polling the nation means politicians should fall in behind the views of their constituents.

"I don't expect every member of the parliament should have to say, 'Well, I don't like it but I'm going to vote for it anyway'," he said. "There will be millions of people who vote against redefining marriage, and they deserve a voice in the parliament."

Earlier on Thursday, Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie echoed earlier comments from Bernardi and Senator Eric Abetz, saying she would ignore the result of a nationwide plebiscite and vote with her conscience irregardless of the result.

After being questioned a number of times, McKenzie said she would continue to vote against same-sex marriage bills, as she has done throughout her time in office.

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.