Following the result of controversial postal ballot, Australia could have same-sex marriage by Christmas – and enjoy a massive financial windfall in the immediate aftermath.
According to this report, gay marriage would provide an estimated cash injection of nearly $1 billion into the Australian economy over the first three years.
That’s the “conservative” estimate economists are using to gauge the financial impact of allowing approximately 50,000 same-sex couples to organise and pay for a legally legitimate wedding.
Dr Hayley Fisher, senior lecturer in economics at the University of Sydney, said that Australia’s wedding industry could expect tens of thousands of weddings instantly if the marriage act were to be changed to include same-sex couples.
Of those polled, 61.6 voted in favour of gay marriage, and, according to the BBC Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his government would aim to pass legislation in parliament by Christmas.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a high-profile same-sex marriage opponent, said parliament should respect the result.
Australians have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality. They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love.
According to the 2016 census there are 46,774 same sex couples living together in Australia, and over half would like to be legally married. So we could expect around 25,000 more weddings following the legalisation of same sex marriage.
He wrote on Facebook that he would support a bill that provided:
Freedom of conscience for all, not just the churches.
Another prominent No campaigner, Lyle Shelton, said:
We will now do what we can to guard against restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of religion, to defend parents’ rights, and to protect Australian kids from being exposed to radical LGBTIQ sex and gender education in the classrooms.
In areas with the largest number of religious and ethnic communities people voted against gay marriage, according to this report.
In the outer Melbourne electorate of Calwell, for example, the religious migrant community undoubtedly had an impact, with 17.7 per cent of the electorate from an Islamic background, six times the state average, while 34 per cent are Catholic, 12 per cent higher than the rest of the state.
Community leader Bernard Amah said it was “great news” that at 56.8 per cent, Calwell recorded the highest “no” vote in Victoria. The priest said:
Islamic leaders and I talked as much as we could. Many people here believe same-sex marriage is against nature, if people are living in it, I have no problems, but you can’t make it a law.
University of Sydney demographer Zakia Hossain said for many migrants, even the concept of the survey could be outside the norm. She said:
The literature shows that first generation migrants are more conservative and try to hold onto their traditional and religious values. It could be a very sensitive issue that needs to be understood from this context.
But Hayley Fisher concentrated on the benefits of making same-sex marriage legal. The businesses with the most financial gain at stake include florists, wedding venues and caterers, but Fisher says that legalising same-sex marriage has far broader economic implications than simply propping up the business of tying the knot.
Legal marriage provides more legal certainty than being a de facto couple, which allows couples to make long term commitments such as buying a house together and arranging their lives to best care for children. This is on top of the psychological benefits of having the relationship legally recognised. There is no evidence of negative spill over effects on relationship stability or quality for opposite sex couples.
There’s no question that legalising same-sex marriage would give a short and longer-term boost to the economy.
Fisher is not alone in her calculations on what implications same-sex marriage would have on the economy. Eleven days ago senior economist at ANZ’s research department Cherelle Murphy estimated that in the first year alone same-sex marriage would provide $650 million in economic benefit to Australia.
In the initial phase after any successful legislation, we expect pent-up demand to result in higher-than-usual demand for weddings.
Another indirect economic benefit would be the re-gaining of potential cashflow Australia currently loses to New Zealand, where same-sex marriage has been legal since April 2013.
In 2016, 273 Australian couples were married in NZ, representing a conservative estimate of $9.8 million spent on weddings, which is injected into the Kiwi economy instead of Australia’s. That figure does not include money spent by guests on accommodation, food, drinks and sightseeing.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn