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PFLAG Australia have called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to scrap the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality after a new poll has shown support for the proposal appears to be dropping.

A national survey of 2998 people by Centre for Applied Political Psychology (CAPP Research) on behalf of PFLAG shows that only 40.4% of respondents support a marriage equality plebiscite, with 30.1% undecided and 29.5% against.

This is a drop from the figure of 70% support for the plebiscite found by Griffith University’s Center for Governance and Public Policy in a survey last month.

On Friday Mr Turnbull confirmed that Coalition members wouldn’t be bound by the result of the plebiscite and would be free to vote with their conscience.

The Coalition has set aside $160 million for the vote and Mr Turnbull has previously signalled his intent for it to take place before the end of the year should the Coalition win the July 2 election.

According to the CAPP Research survey, after respondents were informed of the plebiscite’s cost and the non-binding nature of its result, 52.1% said they were less likely to support it.

Parents and Friends of Lesbian Gays (PFLAG) national spokesperson Shelley Argent said the idea the plebiscite is popular is “a myth” and she said the matter should instead be dealt with “sensibly in the federal parliament”.

“This survey found that support for a plebiscite is lower than politicians assume, and collapses once voters understand that it will be a burden on taxpayers, won’t bind politicians and will damage the mental health of vulnerable people,” she said.

“The idea that there is strong community support for this wasteful and cowardly plebiscite is an illusion.”

The research, conducted by CAPP Research as part of its bi-annual RealPoll, was based on a nationally representative survey of 3000 Australians of voting age.

CAPP Research Director Matt Farrugia said the research showed lower support for a plebiscite than other recent research because of a higher percentage of respondents who were undecided.

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