The cost of the same-sex marriage plebiscite has been estimated to involve an expenditure of $525 million, which is thrice more than the estimate of $160 million made by the Australian government.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, a professional services firm, has calculated the entire cost to be incurred in the event and found that the overall “true cost” involved in the plebiscite will be $525 million. Approximately $158 million will be invested for conducting the plebiscite, $280 million will comprise the time cost of voting, $66 million will be spent on campaigning and $20 million will be the cost of treating the mental harm and depression that the LGBT group will go through because of the plebiscite, a report revealed.

On the report released by the PricewaterhouseCoopers, marriage equality advocate Professor Kerryn Phelps said that the cost involved in undertaking the same sex marriage plebiscite will prompt wastage of taxpayer money, thereby igniting flames of hatred among Australians against the lesbian, gay and transgender community. reported that Phelps has already warned the authorities of the mental distress caused to LGBT community because of the plebiscite to be held.

The voting on same-sex marriage seems to incur a huge expenditure because of it being undertaken as a standalone plebiscite. In case it was held alongside general elections, it would have been less expensive and just worth $113 million, lesser than the government’s estimate of $ 160 million. PwC Australia’s Chief Executive Luke Sayers said that the separate conduction of the plebiscite would be a “massive waste of time and money.” He added that parliamentary vote would prompt minimisation of cost.

Australian Marriage Equality National Director Rodney Croome seconded the thought of the plebiscite being expensive. “Every single government minister must read this report before cabinet considers legislation for a plebiscite,” Croome said as quoted by The Guardian. “With the stakes so high for the economy and for the mental health of LGBTI Australians, the government needs to reconsider its position. The best way to resolve the marriage equality issue is with a free vote in the parliament as soon as possible.”