Australian government still planning public vote on equal marriage despite looming defeat

The Australian government still pushing ahead with plans for a public vote on equal marriage, despite an expected defeat in the Senate.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had attempted to avoid a rift with his own ultra-conservative MPs by bringing forward plans to take same-sex marriage to the public in a non-binding plebiscite.

Opposition parties plan to block the plans in the Senate, where the government is in the minority, as they see a plebiscite expensive and largely redundant.  LGBT activists say equal marriage could instead be passed by a simple vote in Parliament.

However, in a show of bravado, Turnbull is continuing to push ahead with planning for the plebiscite, despite the looming defeat.

He said: “Experience tells me that you don’t know what the numbers are until the votes are finally counted.”

According to Buzzfeed, Australian electoral commissioner Tom Rogers confirmed that planning is continuing as he has received no instructions from the government to cease preparations.

Mr Rogers told Parliament that no major spending on the measure had commenced yet, with large-scale funding required by December to ensure a vote early next year. The estimated cost of the plebiscite is $200 million.

The plebiscite bill is likely to be defeated in the Senate when it heads to the chamber in November.