The High Court Has Spoken And The Marriage Equality Postal Survey Is Definitely Going Ahead

It's on. Time to win this thing.

Well, the postal survey on marriage equality is definitely going ahead now, after the High Court struck down a challenge to its legality this afternoon. I guess we’re really doing this.

The decision comes after the High Court heard two separate challenges to the postal survey’s legality on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

One challenge was run by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre on behalf of independent MP Andrew Wilkie, PFLAG spokesperson Shelley Argent, and lesbian mum Felicity Marlowe, while the other was run by the Human Rights Law Centre, representing Greens senator Janet Rice and the Australian Marriage Equality campaign.

The two challenges made a number of different arguments as to why the postal survey should not be considered legal, including that the way the government obtained funds for the survey is unconstitutional. The government was able to implement the survey without Parliament’s approval by using a part of the Appropriations Act that allows the finance minister to spend up to $295 million on things that are urgent or unforeseen. Both challenges argued that the postal survey on marriage was neither of those things.

There’s more to the legal arguments made by each challenge, which differed slightly. If you’re after more detail on those, there’s a great explainer here.

As for which arguments specifically persuaded the court, we’re not sure yet. The reasoning behind the decision has yet to be released.

What Happens Now?

With nothing left to stop it, the postal vote will now go ahead as originally planned (we use “originally planned” loosely given that the government only concocted this whole idea very recently).

That means survey forms — which are already being printed — will start to be mailed out on September 12 and will likely arrive in most mailboxes between September 22 and 25. You’ll have until 6pm on October 18 to request a replacement form if, for whatever reason, yours doesn’t reach you intact.

The ABS then needs to receive your completed survey (if you choose to complete it) by 6pm on November 7, though they strongly encourage people to return forms before October 27. Honestly, don’t treat this like a uni assignment — get your forms in early.

After that, it’s just a fun wait until results are released on the ABS site on November 15.