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PM promises same-sex marriage by Christmas

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November 15, 2017

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will announce the results of the same-sex marriage survey.

If the official count of the same-sex marriage survey matches myriad opinion polls, same-sex Australian couples will be able to marry by Christmas.

"That's the goal," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull vowed ahead of the Australian Bureau of Statistics announcing on Tuesday which way more than 12 million people voted on the issue.

Nearly 80 per cent of eligible Australians took part in the voluntary poll, a return rate that compares more than favourably with the 91 per cent who voted at the compulsory 2016 federal election.

Various opinion polls point to a majority 'yes' vote, possibly as high as 60 per cent.

Greens senator Janet Rice, who has a transgender wife, reckons she is the last person to "absolutely, definitely" predict a 'yes' win.

"But the polls have been pretty consistent and it really does seem that in commentary right across the political spectrum the expectation is that there will be a 'yes' vote," she said.

Shock ballot-box results from Brexit to the US presidential election have campaigners wary of published opinion polls.

Nevertheless, discussions are well under underway as to how same-sex marriage might be legislated.

A private bill, proposed by West Australian Liberal senator Dean Smith, has been labelled the "starting point" by senior government ministers.

It will be supported by Labor and the Greens even though the minor party plans to present amendments.

A second private bill, containing more protections for religious protections and conscientious objection, is being pushed by conservative coalition MPs, many of whom campaigned for a 'no' vote.

Labor Senate leader Penny Wong condemned the move.

"If the Australian people do vote yes, they're not going to look kindly on the same group of people who have urged a 'no' vote not accepting the outcome and trying to delay further," she said.

"Australians voted for equality. They didn't vote to license more discrimination and that is what the Paterson bill does."

Attorney-General George Brandis has labelled same-sex marriage a "very, very important human rights reform".

"But also, we should respect another human right and that is freedom of religious belief," he said.

That will be all for nothing - or the $122 million cost of the survey - if a 'no' vote prevails.

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