Plebiscite to cost more than $500 million

Tony Abbott's public ballot on same-sex marriage, now embraced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, will cause major social harm and cost the economy more than $500 million in direct expenses and lost production.

"Our modelling points to a parliamentary vote as the best mechanism for change"

The publicly funded for-and-against campaigns, which some have argued should be given special dispensation to transgress hate-speech laws, will cost at least $6 per voter based on overseas experience.

That's the conclusion of modelling undertaken by one of the world's most respected business accountancy consulting firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia.

In a serious blow to the claimed legitimacy-building power of the proposed plebiscite, PwC Australia has examined the proposal and warned it will do more harm than good, leading to high levels of social tension, discrimination, mental health and mood disorders, and will cost taxpayers and business far more than previously understood.
It found the plebiscite itself would cost $158 million to stage, not counting the extra $66 million in public funding likely to be committed to promote both the "yes" and "no" arguments. The modelling suggests there would be another $281 million surrendered from the national economy from lost production as people take the time to vote. That is, around $525 million all up.

"The real costs to government, the economy and members of the community to hold a stand-alone plebiscite are more than three times higher than the numbers commonly quoted," said PwC Australia chief executive officer Luke Sayers.

"Total economic costs have not been considered before and should be part of the debate on the best way to achieve a resolution to this issue."

Mr Sayers, whose organisation was ranked Australia's top LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual, inter-sex) employer last year in the Pride in Diversity Australian Workplace Equality Index, described the plebiscite as "a massive waste of time and money, that will remove focus on the economy, growth, and jobs, which is the real priority for Australia".

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Tags: Gay Rights, Politics

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