There’s one quick way to bolster the Australian economy: Legalise same-sex marriage

Graham Cooke 20 September 2016 NEWS

How introducing marriage equality could save the Australian economy.

With same-sex marriage now legal in twenty-one countries, including across the conservative United States, it feels like Australia is very much behind the times in holding out. The federal government has approved a plebiscite for 2017, but with Labor and the Greens looking to block the motion, the future of equal rights for the LGBTQ community remains uncertain.

However, with the world economy still unsteady and the mining boom over, both Labor and the LNP are keen to see the country’s budget return to surplus. Would legalising same-sex marriage help?

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The Australian Securities and Investments Commission estimate that the average spend on a wedding in Australia is $36,200, and the current adult population of Australia is just over 18 million. Roy Morgan Research reveals that 3.4% of Australians identify as LGBT, meaning there are over 616,000 queer people in the country. Presumably many of them would like to get married, and some have been waiting to tie the knot for years.

Assuming a fairly conservative 10% of this population decide to wed within two years of legalisation, this would be the equivalent of over 30,000 couples, spending a total of $1.1 billion dollars. The extra spend would no doubt fuel the wedding industry and create many new jobs for celebrants, hotels and venues, bakeries, photographers, musicians, event managers and many more. To keep things simple, let’s look at GST alone.

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With GST currently sitting at 10% and applying to most goods and services sold in Australia, these extra weddings would create an easy $112 million in government income before any other positive economic effects are taken into account. This would be enough to fund the climate commission, closed in 2013 due to budget constraints, for 447 years. It would pay the salaries of over 1,000 nurses (or 280 MPs) for two years. It would also (almost) cover the cost of a plebiscite.

We already know from multiple polls that the vast majority of Australians support marriage equality. This is a call to Australian politicians – it’s time to negotiate, it’s time to make the difficult decisions without resorting to the easy-but-expensive plebiscite option. If you’re not going to do it for Australia’s gay community, then at least do it for the Australian economy.

Graham Cooke's Insights Blog examines issues affecting the Australian consumer. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.

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