Abbott plan for "people's vote" on marriage could cost $158m

A NATIONAL poll on same-sex marriage could cost as much as $158 million to run, a Senate committee was told this week.

The proposal came from senior figures in the Coalition after Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to allow Coalition MPs a conscience vote on the issue under his leadership.

It also follows campaigns both for and against marriage equality after a High Court case testing Australian Capital Territory laws put the issue squarely in the Commonwealth's court.

Officials from the Australian Electoral Commission told a Senate committee on Thursday the vote, which would ask people whether they generally support the idea, could cost about $158 million.

That was a similar sum to the cost of the 2013 Federal Election minus Western Australia's Senate re-run.

Greens Senator Janet Rice, who supports marriage equality, said even if the vote went ahead, it "would only tell us what we already know; that the vast majority of Australians support (it)".

"It is disappointing that there are some, including Tony Abbott, who insist on using every trick in the book to put off this inevitable reform," she said.

Mr Abbott prefers "a people's vote" rather than "a politicians' vote".


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