Science Party could save the government $157m with an experiment and a little maths

The federal government will run a plebiscite on marriage equality, which will cost a massive $158 million to run. Implementing marriage equality does not require a change in the constitution. In fact, most of such a change would only be undoing the Howard government bans on same-sex marriage. The only reason for running such a plebiscite would be to determine popular support, but this is the most wasteful way to determine support, and highly hypocritical of a government that routinely claims it is trying to cut government spending.

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Smaller sample, less cost, same result

The Science Party has a way to save the majority of that $158 million. Rather than sample every single elector for their opinion on the issue, the Australian Electoral Commission and the Australian Bureau of Statistics could team up to select a demographically representative sample of Australia. This kind of work is their bread and butter. They routinely sample the population to determine personal circumstance and opinion.

Rather than sample all 16.4 million Australians, we could sample far fewer people, in the order of thousands, and come up with a statistically representative result with an extremely high degree of confidence. A conservative guess is such a sample would cost at most $1 million. This is not unreasonable, given that there have already been many organisations that have run such surveys that cost much less than $1 million to run. Most of these samples already show overwhelming support for marriage equality, at 68% and 62%

Not without precedent

Using representative samples to make big decisions is not uncommon. In fact, the determination of the flow of preferences in the NSW upper house is determined through a representative sample, not through a full count of preferences. 

If the Science Party were elected, we would directly vote for marriage equality, as it is one of our platform policies. However, we could easily end the ongoing saga of the Liberal government's wasteful use of public resources. Australia needs a party that is truly innovative to use public money most efficiently. Given that the Liberals haven't even committed to be bound by the result, spending $158 million on a survey is an incredible waste of public money.

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