Australia’s federal cabinet has signed off on plans to hold a marriage equality plebiscite on February 11 next year, and to allocate $7.5 million in public funding for both the “yes” and “no” campaigns.
The cabinet also agreed the question to voters will be: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
“Any funding provided to the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ case will be scrupulously equal and fair as it always has been,” he said.
According to reports from the ABC, alongside public funding the cabinet wants to cap tax deductible donations to each campaign at $1,500.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who introduced his own private members bill to legalise same-sex marriage, said he was worried the damage a ‘no’ campaign could do.
“A ‘no’ campaign would be an emotional torment for gay teenagers and if one child commits suicide over the plebiscite, that is one too many,” he told parliament.
Coalition MPs will discuss the cabinet’s proposals at their party room meeting today, putting more pressure on Labor to state whether it will support the legislation needed to hold the divisive and costly public vote.
Once the Coalition introduces plebiscite-enabling legislation, the nine Greens Senators plan to block the plebiscite, along with the three Senators in Nick Xenophon’s team.
However, for the plebiscite to go ahead, it will be up to Labor.
If the plebiscite is blocked the Coalition has said it will be the end of the matter for this term of parliament, as it was one of the party’s key election promises.
Labor now needs to decide whether it will allow the plebiscite to go ahead and be debated during this term of parliament, or block it and put it off for three more years.