Marriage plebiscite set for February 2017

A plebiscite on same-sex marriage this year is 'not practical' according to the Australian Electoral Commission, a senior government minister says.

Despite Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and senior ministers repeatedly pledging, during the election campaign, they aimed to hold the vote this year - the vote will now be pushed back.

'The prime minister was always very clear that he said his aspiration was to have the plebiscite this year, but his main message was he wanted to have it as soon as practically possible,' Liberal frontbencher Alan Tudge told Sky News.

'We are now getting advice from the electoral commission that it's probably not practical to have it this year, so therefore it is likely to be next year.'

Australians may be asked to vote in February 2017 on whether they want to allow same-sex marriage.

News Corp reported on Saturday night, that Mr Turnbull is expected to announce the plebiscite timeline, aiming for February, at a coalition partyroom meeting on September 13.

Australians would be asked the question: do you approve of a law to permit people of the same sex to marry?

Minister Kelly O'Dwyer said cabinet was yet to make any decision on the timing or question so no assumptions should be made.

'The government has committed to a plebiscite. We're committed to doing it as soon as practicable,' she told the ABC.

A spokeswoman for the prime minister said the government's promises around the national vote had not changed.

The AEC has previously estimated it would cost taxpayers $160 million.

That amount doesn't include funding for publicly arguing the cases for and against.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has labelled the exercise a waste of taxpayer money, especially since it won't even lock MPs in to vote the same way as the majority of Australians.

'Mr Turnbull is willing to waste taxpayers' money and provide a platform for hate campaigns, all because he doesn't have the guts to put a vote to parliament,' he told AAP in a statement.

'Let's just get on with it.'

Australian Marriage Equality says that if a plebiscite is to occur there should be no public funding for either side of the debate.

'We did not ask for a plebiscite, but if one is being imposed it's vital the question, process, and timing is fair and delivered in consultation with the LGBTI community and all political parties,' NSW state MP and Australian Marriage Equality chair Alex Greenwich said.

Source: AAP


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