The federal government has allocated $170 million to its failed marriage equality plebiscite in Tuesday night’s budget.
“The Australian government remains committed to a plebiscite in relation to same-sex marriage, despite the Senate not supporting the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016,” the budget paper reads.
“To this end, the Australian government will provide $170 million to conduct a same-sex marriage plebiscite as soon as the necessary legislation is enacted by the Parliament.”
But the allocated money is listed as a “Fiscal Risk” which means that it is potential expenditure only and it “remains subject to the legislative process,” the timing of which is “not known,” the budget paper explains.
The government’s legislation to enable the plebiscite was blocked in the Senate last November, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government had committed to holding the public vote at the last federal election.
Veteran marriage equality campaigner and just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said the money was better spent elsewhere.
“It’s deeply disappointing that the Government is persisting with its expensive, damaging, unnecessary and unpopular plebiscite,” he said.
“If the Government is determined to spend $170 million on LGBTI issues it would be better off funding LGBTI school inclusion and mental health programs.”
Mr Croome said he was concerned the plebiscite bill would be re-introduced to parliament or a controversial proposal for a voluntary postal vote would be revived.