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Malcolm Turnbull Has Declared Saturday's Election Is "Not About Gay Marriage"

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At his final major speech of the campaign before the July 2 election, BuzzFeed News asked Turnbull whether he agreed with his treasurer's position that if the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality fails, then "that would be the end of the matter".

"It will be a decision for the Australian people. The decision on Saturday is not about gay marriage," said Turnbull.

"The question of gay marriage or same-sex marriage will be determined, if we are re-elected, by a plebiscite held as soon a possible and every Australian, every single one of us, will have the same vote - they will have one vote each - and that will be the determining factor in this debate."

But despite Turnbull's suggestion that marriage equality is not a vote-decider, it is one of a handful of issues on which Labor has a substantially different policy from the Coalition. Labor leader Bill Shorten has promised that the very first piece of legislation he would put before the parliament as prime minister would be a marriage equality bill.

Mick Tsikas/AAP

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Shorten refused to elaborate on whether a Labor opposition would back the Coalition's proposed plebiscite on same-sex marriage in the next parliament.

“It’s hypothetical. You’re asking me to commentate what happens if we lose the election, and I’m not prepared to do that … especially when Malcolm Turnbull and I both know that a parliamentary vote is the quickest and most effective way to reflect the view of the people.”

The issue has reared its head in the last few days after treasurer Scott Morrison and deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop repeatedly refused to confirm whether they'd vote for marriage equality if the plebiscite returned a "yes" result.

Stefan Postles / Getty Images

Turnbull, for his part, confirmed his own personal intentions on Thursday.

"I know I can speak on behalf of Lucy and myself here, we will be voting 'yes' in the plebiscite," he said.

Mark Di Stefano is a Media and Politics Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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