21/08/2016 7:27 AM AEST | Updated 21/08/2016 8:26 AM AEST

Turnbull Government Postpones Same-Sex Marriage Vote To 2017

The coalition is delaying the national vote until February.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is pushing back a vote on gay marriage.
Stringer . / Reuters
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is pushing back a vote on gay marriage.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will break his promise to hold a national vote on same-sex marriage this year, with plans to push the plebiscite back to early 2017.

NewsCorp Australia reports that the vote will now likely take place in February 2017 and the question will ask Australians whether ­"you approve of a law to permit people of the same sex to marry".

But in a statement from the Prime Minister's office, seen by the ABC, the Federal Government says no timing of the plebiscite has been made.

The specific question to be asked, as well as the timing of the vote are subject to the usual Cabinet processes, the statement read.

There will reportedly be other options for the wording of the plebiscite but whatever the final question, the delay means 15 million voters will be saved from going to the polls twice this year.

There has been long-running debate about how to settle the same-sex marriage question, with Attorney-General George Brandis committed to the $160 million plebiscite.

He has previously said it is the "only way" to resolve the controversial issue.

Labor has repeatedly called for a free parliamentary vote and took that plan to the federal election.

The ALP still wants parliament to decide the matter and opposition leader Bill Shorten is keen to push through a private members' bill to legalise gay marriage with a vote of MPs.

Senator Sam Dastyari on Sunday slammed the delay and the whole need for a national vote.

"The whole plebiscite is unnecessary and outrageous, frankly it's offensive," he told Channel 9.

Outside of politics, polls suggest Australians continue to support marriage equality.