Australia will vote on equal marriage this year, PM promises

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

Australia will hold a public vote on same-sex marriage before the end of the year, the Prime Minister has promised.

The country’s PM Malcolm Turnbull is currently fighting a federal election battle, and is under threat from the opposition Labor Party.

While the Labor Party has pledged to bring in equal marriage immediately if elected, Turnbull’s Coalition is deeply divided on the issue – and instead plans to bring about a non-binding ‘public vote’ on the issue first.

LGBT rights campaigners had warned that any such a vote would be expensive, drawn-out and divisive – as well as largely futile, given the overwhelming support equal marriage enjoys among the general public.

In a bid to allay fears that the plebiscite (public vote) would stall the issue for many years, Turnbull has this week promised it will take place in 2016.
Australia will vote on equal marriage this year, PM promises
He told reporters: “We will hold it as soon as possible after the [federak[ election.

“Given that the election is on July 2, we do have ample time between then and the end of the year.”

Turnbull, who supports equal marriage despite opposition from the majority of his MPs, previously expressed frustration with the plebiscite plan, which came about before he gained power in a party coup.

He said: “There’s no question, it’s not the traditional way of resolving matters… it was the view taken by the party room before I was Prime Minister.

“I can understand it’s frustrating for people who want to get on with it, and obviously it has a cost associated with it – but it will be a thoroughly democratic process.”

Of his own vote, he said: “I will be voting yes, I will be voting to legalise same-sex marriage, and I think the plebiscite will be carried. I think it will be a positive vote.”

However, Labor is currently slightly ahead in the polls ahead of July’s election.

If Labor maintains its lead on election day, the plebiscite plan would be thrown on the bonfire, in favour of a same-sex marriage bill passed through Parliament at the earliest opportunity.