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Binding Vote, No Public Funding: Labor's Marriage Plebiscite Demands

No public funding, a binding vote, a cheaper proposal.

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Labor says a national vote on same-sex marriage would have to be "a very different plebiscite" to the government's current proposal before it will consider supporting the bill.

Dean Lewins / AAPIMAGE

Attorney general George Brandis and his shadow counterpart Mark Dreyfus will meet in Brisbane on Monday to discuss the controversial plebiscite proposal.

A bill introduced to the parliament last week proposed a February 2017 vote that will not bind the parliament and provides $7.5 million in public funding to each side of the debate.

"We made it clear right from the outset we oppose public funding," Dreyfus told ABC Radio on Friday.

"The government did not listen to Labor's very clear statement before the plebiscite bill was produced."

Dreyfus listed public funding and a vote that binds the parliament to follow the result of the plebiscite as basic elements that would need to change for Labor's support.

He also called for the vote to be cheaper. Under the current proposal, the plebiscite will cost $170 million to run and is projected to have a $32.5 million impact on the economy.

Labor's support is necessary for the bill to pass the senate. However, acquiescing to Labor's demands could leave the government fighting its own conservative backbench.

"Labor's happy to listen to anything the government has got to say, but the government will have to start by explaining what it is that it can change about this plebiscite proposal which it can get through the right wing of its own party room," Dreyfus said.

Brandis has flagged his willingness to negotiate the specifics of the plebiscite with Labor, saying the government had to work within the parameters set by the current parliament.

“We are prepared to talk to the opposition and deal with them in good faith if Labor is willing to deal with us in good faith,” he said at the weekend.

“We have a package which was developed after extensive consultation with people who favour change in the LGBTI community and people who oppose change in the religious community,” he said. “[But] the theme of this parliament has to be compromise”.

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

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