11/10/2016 7:28 PM AEDT | Updated 11/10/2016 8:27 PM AEDT

Bill Shorten Remains 'Optimistic' Coalition Will Backflip On Marriage Equality Free Vote

His comments come after Labor voted to block the plebiscite on Tuesday.

The Labor leader said same-sex couples told him they were happy to wait.
Channel Ten
The Labor leader said same-sex couples told him they were happy to wait.

Labor leader Bill Shorten remains "optimistic" Liberal and National MPs will change their minds on a free vote in Parliament to legalise same-sex marriage, after Labor voted to block the plebiscite on Tuesday.

Speaking to The Project on Tuesday night, Shorten said the LGBTI community should not give up hope, despite the ALP blocking the plebiscite in a move which could delay marriage equality for another three years.

"I'm optimistic that, at a certain point, Liberal and National Party MPs will say, 'anyway, isn't it just time to get on with it?'," Shorten said on the program.

Despite the Labor leader believing the majority of Australians would vote in favour of same-sex marriage in the plebiscite, Shorten deemed it too expensive and the debate too harmful to the LGBTI community. (You can read more about the potential harm here.)

"I did speak to Australian of the Year and mental health expert Professor Patrick McGorry and he said harm will occur," Shorten said on Tuesday night.

"What I would say [to same-sex couples wanting to marry] is, don't give up hope. Again, the position that I and Labor took was informed by talking to people. I had plenty of couples say to me, 'Bill, we are prepared to wait a little bit longer.'

The ALP has already introduced a private members bill for same-sex marriage and reportedly hope three openly gay Liberal MPs will cross the floor or abstain from a vote, allowing the bill to pass the lower house.

Malcolm Turnbull today refused to rule out Coalition support for a free Parliamentary vote, despite earlier saying that a plebiscite was the only way forward, according to the ABC.

"The [plebiscite] bill isn't even in the Senate yet. The Senate has to deal with the bill," Turnbull said.

"I'm not going to go follow Bill Shorten down his highly political road of trying to subvert a straightforward democratic process, of trying to say to the Australian people you shouldn't have a say."

The plebiscite legislation is still being debated in the Lower House and will go to a vote, but even if it passes, the Turnbull government does not currently have the numbers to get it through the Senate (which you can read all about here).