Cabinet creates plebiscite date, offers funding and sets rules

people, homosexuality, same-sex marriage and love concept - close up of happy male gay couple holding hands and dancing on wedding

The national plebiscite on allowing same sex couples to marry would take place on February 11th 2017 under a plan taken to cabinet last night.

The February 11th date would allow the plebiscite vote to be held before the Western Australian election which is scheduled to occur in early March.

Details of how the plebiscite would be run emerged last night after it was discussed by the cabinet of the Turnbull government.

The compulsory vote would ask the Australian people “Do you support a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry?”  The question that previously was put forward was criticised for containing the word “allow”, which has now been changed to “support”.

Both side of the campaign would be given government funding of $7.5 million to promote their position. Opponents of marriage equality has campaigned for $15 million to be provided, while pro-marriage equality groups had argued no funding was necessary.

It has been reported that government ministers including Matt Canavan, Barnaby Joyce, Mathias Cormann, Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison were adamant that public funding be supplied while Attorney General George Brandis was opposed to the proposal.

Pre-polling and postal votes would open three weeks before the national vote.

Media outlets would be required to run advertisements from both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns, and would not be able to pick sides in the debate.

The ABC has reported that donations to each of the campaigns would be capped at $1,500, but concern has been raised that religious groups may be able to circumvent this rule.

While cabinet has addressed how the plebiscite will be run, the proposal still faces many obstacles. The plan will be presented to the coalition party room this morning, and will also need to be approved by both houses of parliament.

Liberal MP Warren Entsch told SKY News yesterday that he didn’t believe the legislation would make it through the senate.

“There will be no plebiscite, it won’t get up,” Entsch told Sky News. “We wouldn’t be able to get it through.”

The Greens, the Nick Xenophon team and independent senator Derryn Hinch have all announced that they will not support any plebiscite legislation. However The Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has said she may be able to support a plebiscite, putting her out of step with her Greens colleagues.

The Labor party is yet to indicate if it will support the plebiscite legislation, but given Labor leader Bill Shorten gave a passionate speech against the proposal yesterday, it’s looking unlikely.

OIP Staff


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