Turnbull Refuses To Endorse End-Of-Year Deadline For Same-Sex Marriage Plebiscite

06/03/2016 9:43 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 19: Minister for the Arts and Sport Senator George Brandis speaks to the media during the press conference announcing Netball Australia will receive $AUD 2.4 million in government funding at the State Netball and Hockey Centre on October 19, 2007 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has refused to endorse an end-of-year deadline for a public vote on same-sex marriage if the coalition wins the upcoming election.

Early on Sunday, Attorney-General George Brandis told Sky News that the government had brought forward the timeline for the national plebiscite on the controversial issue.

"The bill to constitute the plebiscite will be introduced early in the life of the new parliament so we can have the plebiscite before the end of this year," Brandis said.

"In the event that there would be a yes vote the government would legislate to give effect to the wishes of the people."

But Fairfax Media reports the Prime Minister's office is refusing to endorse that timeline.

A spokeswoman for Mr Turnbull said the government would hold a plebiscite "as soon after the election as can be done," according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Labor wants a free parliamentary vote on gay marriage and has criticised the more than $100 million that is expected to be spent on a national vote but the coalition has repeatedly backed a plebiscite.

Australian Marriage Equality director Rodney Croome said there was no need to wait for a national vote to decide the issue.

"We can simply have this vote in parliament next week to get this through and I think the majority of Australians would prefer that," Croome told Macquarie Radio.

Earlier, Greens leader Richard Di Natale called on Malcolm Turnbull to break with his party and allow a free vote on marriage equality following the PM's appearance at Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Di Natale called on Turnbull to show more leadership on the controversial issue of same-sex marriage, describing his stance on a range of issues as the same as his predecessor Tony Abbott.

Both Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten attended Saturday's Mardi Gras in Sydney amid the ongoing political debate about gay marriage.

Shorten labelled Turnbull's appearance at the colourful parade as "half arsed".

"I think the big problem for Malcolm Turnbull right now is that while there's been a change in prime minister, he's carrying on with Abbott era policies on people seeking refuge and asylum on climate change, on issues of marriage equality, and people are very disappointed," Di Natale told the ABC.

Shorten was on Labor's official float in the parade while Turnbull's appearance made him the first prime minister to show up at the iconic celebration of sexual diversity.

Di Natale was another high profile attendee at the 38th annual parade.

Di Natale said Turnbull was letting the nation down not only on gay marriage but also on the Safe Schools program and protecting gay asylum seekers in Nauru.

"We just need to see now some action, symbolism is good, it's good having leaders of all parties there, but let's back it up with some action," he said.

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