More Australian voters now want to go to the polls on same-sex marriage, rather than let politicians have a free vote in parliament on it, a new poll suggests.
A Newspoll in The Australian published on Tuesday shows 46 per cent of surveyed voters want a plebiscite versus 39 per cent who want politicians to decide, while 15 per cent are undecided.
That marks a shift from September last year, when 48 per cent wanted politicians to decide, and 39 per cent backed a national vote.
The latest survey comes amid news West Australian senator and Liberal backbencher Dean Smith is working on a plan to end the “embarrassment” of the nation and legalise same-sex marriage through a conscience vote in parliament, defying his own government’s policy of a plebiscite on the issue.
Senator Smith, who is gay, said his private member’s bill was well advanced and he intended taking it to the party room for discussion in the near future.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull dismissed the plans, saying government policy remained to hold a plebiscite on the issue.
Only last month, the prime minister was forced to rule out a parliamentary vote, even though he was a supporter of same-sex marriage.