Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann

Minister for Finance

18 September 2013 to 30 October 2020

Next Steps For A National Plebiscite On Same Sex Marriage

Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia


The Turnbull Government is committed to deliver on its pre-election promise to give the Australian people a say on whether or not the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry.

While the Government is disappointed that the Senate refused to pass the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016, the Government is now pressing ahead with a voluntary postal plebiscite for all Australians.

I have been advised by the Treasurer that he will later today issue a direction to the Australian Statistician asking that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) request on a voluntary basis, statistical information from all Australians on the electoral roll as to their views on whether or not the law in relation to same sex marriage should be changed to allow same sex couples to marry.

All arrangements for fulfilling the Treasurer's direction will be subject to final determination by the independent Australian Statistician. 

It is anticipated that, subject to these arrangements, the ABS, supported by AEC officers as appropriate, will make relevant announcements about timetables and practical arrangements, including the opportunity for all Australians to update their details on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll.

All Australians who are enrolled on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll will get the opportunity to express their views.

Australians overseas, who are on the Electoral Roll, have registered as an overseas voter and provided their overseas address, will receive all the necessary documentation to enable them to have their say and participating in this process at their overseas address.

It is anticipated that the key dates will be:

  • Envelopes will begin to be posted by ABS from September 12;
  • All responses will have to be received by November 7; and
  • The result will be announced on November 15.

Today, I have also signed into effect Advance to the Finance Minister Determination (No. 1 of 2017-18), to provide funding of $122 million to the ABS to enable them to fulfil the Treasurer's direction.

The instrument providing the Finance Minister’s Advance takes effect from midnight tonight and has been published today on This instrument will also be tabled in both Houses of Parliament through their usual processes. The instrument is non-disallowable.

I encourage all Australians on the Electoral Roll to participate in this process by having their say consistent with their conscience, while I urge all campaigners on both sides of this debate to express their arguments with courtesy and respect.

Media Contact(s)

Karen Wu - 0428 350 139