CANBERRA – Federal Cabinet has signed off on holding a compulsory same-sex marriage plebiscite on February 11, but Labor is firming to kill off the proposal, baulking at the government's expected $15 million public funding for the "yes" and "no" campaigns.
On Tuesday, the Coalition joint party room is expected to tick off the proposal to hold the $160 million plebiscite early next year after it was signed off by Federal Cabinet on Monday night.
The proposed question, according to Fairfax Media: "Do you support a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry?"
"The Cabinet has endorsed a methodology for the conduct of the plebiscite," Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told RN Breakfast.
Mathias Cormann saying only thing taken to election was decision to have SSM plebiscite w details worked out afterwards (i.e. funding)— Primrose Riordan (@primroseriordan) September 11, 2016
Cabinet has reportedly endorsed a $7.5 million fund for both the "yes and "no" campaigns. The funding needs to be accepted by the party rooms, but it is already being dragged beyond what is intended for.
Lyle Shelton from the Christian lobby group, ACL, has suggested the "no" campaign funding will "help level the playing field" and be used to fight against other LGBTI issues, such as Safe School kits.
ACL tells @RNBreakfast Feds plebiscite funding will be used to talk about consequences of "programs like safe schools" & "genderless sex ed"— Hamish Macdonald (@hamishNews) September 12, 2016
"It's been a very one-dimensional debate about the love of two people, but there's been very little discussion about the consequences," he told RN Breakfast.
The Opposition is edging closer to blocking the enabling legislation for the plebiscite, arguing it will be a waste of money, non-binding and be harmful to the point of possible suicide.
Funding for the "no" campaign is another victory for right wing Liberals, who created this plebiscite and are still controlling it #auspol— Mark Dreyfus (@markdreyfusQCMP) September 12, 2016
"We have deep concerns about the health and well being, particularly the mental health of you Australians getting caught up in a divisive and damaging debate," Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek told reporters in Canberra.
"We know that it is hard enough being a teenager. It is hard enough being a teenager who is coming out."
"Being a teenager who is coming out at a time there is a national debate about there being something wrong with you, something wrong with the fact that you are same-sex attracted. That is a terrible thing to do to young Australians."
The Labor Caucus is due to debate whether to support the plebiscite, but the Opposition is still waiting to see the enabling legislation.
"It has been months no, close to a year, and we have still not seen legislation from this mob," she said.
Two marriage equality bills have been introduced into parliament this week, while a third from crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm is also expected. All are expected to fail.