PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has revealed a plebiscite on same-sex marriage will be held before the end of the year if his government wins the July 2 election.

Turnbull has previously remained quiet on the timing of a plebiscite, but said on Monday that it will be held “as soon as possible” after the election.

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

“So I would expect it to be held this calendar year.

“But it will be held as soon as practical, as obviously legislation has got to pass through the Parliament so all I can do is give you my commitment to hold a plebiscite as soon as we can and it will be a very straightforward question and will be asking the Australian people whether they support the definition of marriage being extended to include couples of the same sex.”

In April, Turnbull said he expected same-sex marriage to be legalised after the plebiscite. The Turnbull Government then allocated $160 million in the budget for the vote.

The Greens have called on Turnbull to hold a parliamentary vote instead of a costly and divisive plebiscite.

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s comments today would give some Australians the inkling that we could have marriage equality realised by the end of the year – but we can do it without spending $160 million and sending people straight back to the polls after a marathon election campaign,” Senator Robert Simms said in a statement.

“This debate has dragged on long enough, and it seems Mr Turnbull won’t be satisfied until LGBTI people are dragged through the mud by the harmful hate campaigns against this community a plebiscite would drum up.

“It’s not too late for him to dump the pointless and costly plebiscite. No more excuses, delays and hiding behind stale old policies – Australians want marriage equality and they want to see this matter dealt with by the parliament, regardless of who is in the lodge.”

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