AUSTRALIA: Government Breaks Promise, Will Push Marriage Referendum Back To February 2017

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The Turnbull government will push back the date of the proposed same-sex marriage plebiscite until February 2017, breaking a flagship pledge. The Prime Minister had said he wanted the vote to be held this year.

However a spokesperson for Mr Turnbull told Fairfax that Special Minister of State, Scott Ryan, received advice last week from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) advising the government to push the vote back.

“The government has always said that a decision on same-sex marriage will be made by a vote of all Australians in a national plebiscite to be held as soon as practicable,” the spokesperson said.

The Daily Telegraph reported that a timeline for the vote would now be announced in September, with the plebiscite itself held on February 27, 2017. The paper says the question expected to be asked is: “Do you approve of a law to permit people of the same sex to marry?”

The $160 million plebiscite remains controversial inside and outside the Coalition, with reports in June suggesting some government MPs would ignore the will of the people if same-sex marriage was approved via the compulsory vote. Opponents of the vote say it will fuel bigotry and homophobia.