Marriage Equality Protester carrying an Equal Love bannerFairness and equality for all Australians shouldn’t cost a cent, says Rodney Croome of Australian Marriage Equality.

Last night’s 2016 federal budget has confirmed that the government will set aside $160 million for a plebiscite on marriage equality.

In a statement, Attorney-General George Brandis revealed, “The Government has made provision in the Contingency Reserve of $160 million for the plebiscite on same-sex marriage.”

Although there is overwhelming public support for marriage equality, current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has continued with the former PM’s plan to hold a costly and, many argue, unnecessary plebiscite.

After the announcement, Rodney Croome of Australian Marriage Equality said, “Fairness and equality for all Australians shouldn’t cost a cent.”

“The budget has confirmed just how costly a plebiscite will be, and how wasteful, given Parliament could pass marriage equality tomorrow.”

This sentiment is not only held by the LGBT community. Croome highlighted that “Corporate, political and religious leaders, and mental health experts, have all raised concerns about a plebiscite.”

Croome suggests that the Government spend the money for the plebiscite on “essential services instead” and allow for Parliament to have a free vote on the issue.

In defence of the decision, Prime Minister Turnbull said on Radio 7HO Tasmania, “There is no question that it’s not the traditional way of resolving matters like this in Australia, but it was a view taken by the Coalition Party room before I was Prime Minister—nonetheless it’s a view that we’re committed to and it is thoroughly democratic.”

Croome said that American Marriage Equality “will be running campaigns in more than 30 seats across Australia to win over candidates and communities.”