SSM Votes are a Clear YES... so what now?

The ayes have it.

After months of respectful debate about the rights of a segment of our society, we've finally got the results - 61.6% of Australians voted yes - we should allow same sex couples to marry.

Every state and territory had a majority yes vote and 133 of 150 electorates in the country had a yes majority (though not my own electorate, Calwell, unfortunately).

If this were a referendum, it would be one of the clearest majorities we have ever seen - only six other referendums in our history have had a higher yes vote.

But this was not a referendum, it was a voluntary postal survey that's non-binding. So what does this mean now that it's all over?

Well, the results can be treated the same as any opinion poll. The progress on marriage legislation through Parliament is at the same point it was before we had the survey, only now we have another opinion poll stating the obvious:

Same Sex Marriage has had majority of support for more than a decade.

In a press conference after the results, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he wants to get the law changed by Christmas and will allow a conscience vote on the bill.

There's just two more sitting weeks of Parliament left in the year - November 27 to December 7 - so it will be a tight window.

Fundamentally, the change is a simple one - remove a clause in the Marriage Act stating that marriage is only "between a man and a woman," which was put there by John Howard in 2004, but that change is only the tip of the iceberg.

The real debate will be around the religious exemptions. Religious and conservative groups will argue for protections under the law to ensure their beliefs aren't infringed upon by other peoples' marriages.

We've already seen the dangerous side of this earlier in the week, with Victorian Liberal Senator James Paterson introducing legislation which would provide wide ranging exemptions, which are arguably discriminatory. 

But for today, it's a great victory for civil rights in Australia. With a 79.5% turnout it's one of the highest in the world for a voluntary vote on same sex marriage. It's come back with a resounding yes, and the people are rejoicing.

Australian Road Fatalities in Context

Driving is often the most dangerous thing you'll do all day, but how far has Australia come in making our roads safer?

The media always spruiks the road safety angle. The Herald Sun publishes a running tally of deaths on Victorian roads in their newspaper every day. There are stories of spikes in fatal car crashes on public holidays and some states double the penalties for traffic fines during those periods.

 Herald Sun, Wednesday 18 October 2017  

Herald Sun, Wednesday 18 October 2017  

Simply showing a death toll comparison from year to year doesn't show the full picture. There are historic trends that are lost when looking at two very specific pieces of data.

Australia wide, there were 3798 deaths in 1970 compared with 1209 in 2015. When visualised, we can see there is a dramatic reduction in the death toll in the past 45 years.

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Looking at the death toll in proportion, we see an even bigger drop. Australia's population has grown significantly since 1970, so it must be considered. Looking at road deaths per 100,000 people in Australia, we see a steadier drop.

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Taking into account population, there is a far smoother line and fewer outliers. Furthermore, if we look at both graphs side by side, using fatalities in 1970 as a base point, we can see that road deaths in proportion to population has reduced further than the death toll alone shows.

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So the next time you see the road deaths published in the Herald Sun each day, remember there's more to those numbers than meets the eye.