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Support For Same-Sex Marriage Plebiscite Plummets

Almost half of all voters want a parliamentary vote instead.

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More Australians think same-sex marriage should be decided by a parliamentary vote than a plebiscite, according to a new poll.

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48% of Australians would prefer a vote in parliament and only 39% back a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, according to The Australian's Newspoll. 13% of Australians are undecided.

Support has plunged since a Fairfax Ipsos poll in July found 69% of voters preferred a plebiscite.

Plebiscite legislation was introduced to parliament in September, but with Labor, the Greens, and the Nick Xenophon Team indicating they'll block the bill, it looks likely to fail in the Senate.

The government says the national vote, slated for February 11, 2017, will cost around $200 million, including $7.5 million in public funding granted to each campaign.

Approval is split down party lines – with 47% of Coalition voters backing the plebiscite and 44% preferring a vote in parliament.

However, a strong majority of Labor (62%) and Greens (71%) voters want the issue decided by a parliamentary vote.

The Newspoll also indicated if a plebiscite were held on February 11 it would pass with 62% of Australians voting "yes". Only 32% indicated they would vote no, and 6% remain undecided.

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Despite a compromise meeting between the Coalition and Labor on Monday ending in stalemate, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has continued to insist a plebiscite is the only way marriage equality will be achieved in this term of government.

“We’ve set out a plan. I just say to Bill Shorten and the Labor party and in fact to everyone that wants to see same-sex couples being able to marry, if Labor supports the plebiscite it will be held on 11 February. I believe it will be carried. I certainly will be voting yes," he said.

Labor leader Bill Shorten continued his call for a parliamentary vote to resolve the issue, saying he can think of "a hundred better ways to spend $200 million".

However, Labor is coming under increasing pressure to reveal once and for all how it will vote on the matter.

Speaking to Sky News earlier this week, Labor spokesperson for equality Terri Butler was asked several times by presenter David Speers if Labor would support a plebiscite if concessions were made, such as a binding vote or no public funding.

She declined to answer the question, saying the scenario was "completely hypothetical” and that the government had not indicated either of those things were on the table.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at

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