Australians have emphatically voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, saying "yes" to the historic social change by a substantial margin of 61.6 per cent to 38.4 per cent. In the New England electorate, the yes vote got up by 52.5 per cent, the lowest majority in the State.
On the streets of Walcha yesterday those asked overwhelmingly said it was the right result.
“Of course it should have been yes,” said New Birds proprietor Shelley Relf.
“Why would you vote any other way?”
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Shir Hinton.
“I think everyone should be allowed to be happy.”
Almost 80 per cent of eligible voters participated in the unprecedented voluntary postal survey, giving the verdict an authority unmatched by most elections globally.
John Williams said he was glad to see the large percentage that participated in the process.
“It would be hard to get a much larger number of people take part in a voluntary vote,” he said.
“I think it validates the government’s decision to hold the postal survey.”
Walcha Presbyterian minister Graham Barnes said the result was not unexpected.
“I am not surprised,” he said.
“However the bible teaching on marriage is clear and we will continue to follow it. As christians we believe that all people are made in god's image, but we recognise god’s good design for marriage is for one man and one woman to marry for life.”
Walcha mayor Eric Noakes said he thought the vote was a very personal thing.
“The results indicate most people see it with a live and let live attitude,” he said.
“It makes no difference to my life but it might make a difference to theirs and that’s how I’ve always seen it.”
After years of political stagnation, the public has now tasked the Turnbull government with changing the law before Christmas to allow same-sex couples to marry.
It means Australia is poised to join 25 other countries that have granted marriage equality to gay couples, including the US, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
It is a landmark moment in Australia's mixed civil rights record: it was one of the first countries to give women the vote, but still struggles with Indigenous reconciliation and is one of the last English-speaking democracies to legalise same-sex marriage.
The result is also a significant victory for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, of the ruling centre-right Coalition, who is a longstanding supporter of same-sex marriage and firmly believed the "yes" vote would prevail.