ACT News

ACT 'yes' on gay marriage

TWO-THIRDS of Canberrans support legalising gay marriage, according to a new poll commissioned by the ACT Greens.

The automated telephone poll of 1208 ACT voters was conducted on August 13 by independent firm Lonergan Research, which was asked by the ACT Greens to gauge Canberra's views on social issues. Responses were weighted to the territory's population.

Of the 1208 polled, 66 per cent thought same-sex couples should be legally allowed to marry, with women more likely than men to support gay marriage.

The poll, which focused primarily on topical social issues, also found 66 per cent supported a ban on junk food advertising aimed at children under 12; 71 per cent supported medically assisted euthanasia; and 87 per cent believed women should have access to "safe and legal abortion".

Lonergan Research managing director Chris Lonergan said, taking into account a 4 per cent margin of error, the results were conclusive, and reflected the types of values Canberrans held, but would have more influence on a small number of undecided voters rather than define the election.

"All four of those … they're quite progressive issues, so it shows that the population of Canberra is actually quite progressive by and large in terms of what they actually believe, and essentially what they want from their political leaders," Mr Lonergan said.

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"I think these issues will affect some people's votes. I think they'll have a small impact on a lot of people's votes. My personal view is they would not actually be issues that would define the election, but they might be some

issues which would push someone over the line if they're unsure who they would vote for."

Mr Lonergan said, based on previous polls, there was also broad concern in Canberra for the economy and public-sector jobs.

ACT Greens Senate candidate Simon Sheikh said the issues were "disproportionately" raised with him compared with how often they featured in the media, and he believed the results of the poll showed Liberal candidate Zed Seselja to be "out of touch" with the community.

"Each of these issues have a group of people who are passionate about them, and we think they demonstrate a broader picture which is that Zed Seselja is obviously significantly more conservative than the Canberra population," Mr Sheikh said.

"At the end of the day, he is no moderate Liberal. If elected, he would be the most conservative senator in the Parliament, and that's the message that the issues tell."

Mr Sheikh said Mr Seselja had not run a high-profile campaign so far, and ACT voters had not had much time to get to know Mr Seselja's views on federal issues.

Mr Seselja was contacted, but declined to comment on the poll.

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