Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull back in Australia for #SSM survey results

Senator Dean Smith with his private members bill relating to the definition of marriage

While we wait for the results to be announced (allowing Australians the same rights that New Zealanders have had since 2013), there have been other costs outside of the $122m postal survey.

The poll had 79.5% participation of eligible voters, the bureau said.

While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull supports same-sex marriage, many in his right-wing government are opposed to the move.

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

Debate on the Bill begins tomorrow and resumes when Parliament returns in the last week of this month.

Almost 80% of eligible Australians took part in the voluntary poll and the outcome will be announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics at 10am on Wednesday (local time).

Thirteen years after the Howard government changed the law to prevent same-sex marriage, Australians have now backed the historic social reform, with 61.6 voting "Yes" to 38.4 for "No".

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This week Liberal senator James Paterson proposed an alternative same-sex marriage bill that will erode anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. Coalition parliamentarians, who were previously required to vote against marriage equality will now be given a free vote, Labor MPs are nearly universally in favour and a majority of crossbenchers will also support the bill.

As many comparable countries such as the USA and Britain allowed or legislated for same-sex marriage, Australia looked increasingly out of step.

"I'm sure you will all applaud the authenticity and the passion that will come into the different views", Mr Turnbull said.

If Turnbull has fumbled a basic human rights issue that other comparable countries like New Zealand have already resolved just to appease a conservative but vocal minority faction fronted by ex-PM Tony Abbott, then he will have miscalculated the generosity Australians feel towards his increasingly tenuous government.

Wong said parliament should not be distracted by the Paterson Bill. While the No campaign was off to a flying start in the early weeks of the survey, it only secured 27 per cent support among those who already voted.

"The simple message now is: pass the law", said Tiernan Brady, leader of the Marriage Equality campaign.

An estimated 13 million Australians have returned their postal surveys in the nationwide ballot - a bigger percentage than voted in the UK's Brexit referendum.

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