CANBERRA -- Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists his government has a "clear mandate" to hold a same-sex marriage plebiscite, while the Attorney-General George Brandis has accused the Opposition Leader of "playing politics with the lives of gay Australians".
Government pleas to Labor to not block the passage of enabling legislation for the plebiscite comes as Cabinet and the Coalition joint party room signed off on a simple question top asked on February 11, "should the law be changed to allow same sex couples to marry?"
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It's also been revealed that the plebiscite's result will be determined by a simple majority of votes cast across Australia.
Contentiously, $15 million in public funding will be allocated for the "yes" and "no" advertising campaigns, including ten member "yes" and "no" committees, including five politicians on each committee.
The Opposition is still waiting to see the enabling legislation for the plebiscite, but, Labor Leader Bill Shorten has all but killed it off, heavily criticising the vote and warning the "no" campaign could drive young people to suicide.
The Prime Minister insists the Government's position to hold a same-sex marriage plebiscite was known well before the July 2 federal election.
"Let the people have their say," the Prime Minister told reporters in Canberra.
"Mr Shorten should stop blocking this democratic process for which we have a clear mandate from the public," he declared.
However, faced with a specific question on what would happen if the plebiscite bill is blocked, Mr Turnbull failed to rule out a free vote on same-sex marriage in federal parliament.
Serious cracks in the Coalition on the issue have emerged Tuesday with West Australian Liberal Senator Dean Smith announcing he will be crossing the floor on the legislation as he finds it an "abhorrent idea."
Liberal MPs Warren Entsch and Tim Wilson join him as Coalition members concerned about the progress of the same sex marriage plebiscite.
However, the Government is painting marriage equality as a test for Bill Shorten.
"It is Mr Shorten who is saying to gay Australians, "You can just wait while I play politics," the Attorney-General George Brandis told reporters in Canberra.
"Mr Shorten now has to decide whether he will say to the Australian people, "I don't trust you to make this judgement. I'm not interested in what you have to say about this question.""
"And if, by the way, like me, you'll be voting yes in the plebiscite and would like to see marriage equality it is Mr Shorten who stands in the way of that too."
The government's plebiscite enabling bill will be introduced by the Prime Minister later this week.