Same-sex marriage campaigns to cost us $15m
TAXPAYERS will fork out $15 million to fund both the yes and no sides in the lead-up to a plebiscite on same-sex marriage in February next year.
The ABC reported the proposal for the February 11 vote will be put to Coalition MPs at their party room meeting in Canberra today.
The question to be put to voters will be: "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?"
The ABC reported Cabinet has agreed to allocate $7.5 million in public funding to each campaign.
Liberal-National MP Warren Entsch, who is in support of gay marriage, has warned the plebiscite "won't get up" if taxpayers' money is used to fund the "for" and "against" cases.
But conservatives say both sides of the argument should be funded in the lead-up to the vote.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten warned in Parliament yesterday that a no campaign could drive young people to suicide.
"A 'no' campaign would be an emotional torment for gay teenagers and if one child commits suicide over the plebiscite, then that is one too many," he told Parliament.
Should taxpayers pay for same-sex marriage vote campaigns?
This poll ended on 20 September 2016.
Yes. It's only fair both sides are heard
No. Either side should pay for their own campaigns
No. Parliament should change the law now
No. Leave the Marriage Act as it is
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Fairfax columnist John Birmingham has blasted the notion of a taxpayer funded no campaign.
"As damaging, gross and flat out crazy as a full blown debate on marriage equality could get within the confines of Parliament House, it would be infinitely more refined and intelligent than the deranged shit show that will be unleashed in the wider community by the Prime Minister's determination to do nothing that might offend those shell-backed conservatives he fears will come for him with knives at the first opportunity,'' he wrote.
He said the debate should have been kept to Parliament.
"Marriage equality is going to happen one day in this country because we are still democracy and most people now want it. In democracies these questions are usually decided in whichever chamber represents the will of the majority as measured at the last election."
LGBTI advocates say a plebiscite on marriage equality is even less acceptable to the LGBTI community following revelations there will be public funding for the yes and no "cases".
"We cannot countenance taxpayers' money being spent on what is likely to be hurtful, harmful and even hateful campaign materials from the 'no' case," Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) spokesperson Sharyn Faulkner said.
"We call on the Senate, and particularly the Labor Party, to block the plebiscite and for Parliament to have a free vote instead."
Marriage equality advocate, Rodney Croome, said Cabinet's decisions on a plebiscite show the right wing of the Coalition has taken control of the plebiscite process from Malcolm Turnbull and George Brandis.
"The right wing of the Coalition appears to be dictating terms on the plebiscite which will make the LGBTI community even more hostile to the proposal."
"As well as rejecting public funding, I am concerned about the proposed question which should be as simple as possible."
"Asking about a 'change to the law' is unnecessary and distracts attention from the key issue."
"A simple question would be something like 'do you believe same-sex couples should be able to marry'."