Turnbull earmarks $122m for marriage vote

Warren Entsch, who was among the rebel Liberal MPs urging a free vote in the parliament, said he expected the plebiscite to be defeated again.

Cabinet minister Mathias Cormann told reporters after the meeting the government's preference was for a compulsory plebiscite, but if they can not get it through the Senate a voluntary postal vote would be held.

Turnbull said the government would not seek a change in same-sex marriage legislation if a majority of Australians vote against it.

Legal experts said a postal vote may also require Senate approval, however, setting the scene for a likely court challenge to the government's plan.

That measure would make same-sex marriage legal by a national vote, while allowing religious leaders to refuse performing the rites to whoever they wish.

We still don't know what the question will be, whether Australia Post is actually practically up to the task of handling postal ballots for every single eligible voter in Australia, and it's still gonna cost millions of dollars to do something we could do immediately through a free parliamentary vote for no cost. The government on Tuesday endorsed the party decision to ask the Senate this week to reconsider allowing the plebiscite, which would be held November 25.

Government tacticians view this as the best solution that will enable a start to 2018 without distractions on gay marriage and a focus on the economy, energy and national security.

"That would appear to cover a postal vote conducted by either the Electoral Commission or the Bureau of Statistics, but we are seeking further advice to establish the constitutionality of the current proposal". Leader senator Cory Bernardi says: "The Australian Conservatives are the only party that has a policy to maintain marriage in its current form".

Despite majority support for marriage equality, Australia trails behind many western nations including the United States, Germany, England, Ireland and Canada in retaining a traditional legal definition of marriage.

"I find it extraordinary that those members of parliament putting forward this bill, who claim that religious freedom is central to it, have ignored the report preferring to have only a narrow number of exemptions for a small number of people", he said. He added, "I'm a strong leader".

Get ready to have your say about whether Australia should legalise same-sex marriage by... potentially MAILING your vote in.

Cormann declined to say how much any postal vote would cost.

"I'll be voting yes, as will (my wife), I'm very open about that but the Australian people are never wrong when they vote, whether it's for governments or on matters like this, their vote will be respected", Turnbull said.

Labor has a conscience vote until the next election and, after that, members of the ALP would be bound to vote to allow same-sex couples to marry. Nick Xenophon also added that the opposing party has not changed its mind since it initially vetoed the vote in October 2016.

  • Jon Douglas