HANDBALLING the political hot potato of same-sex marriage into the hands of the Australian people is the only way to resolve the heated debate, according to Deputy Prime Minister and New England MP Barnaby Joyce.
Mr Joyce insists a same-sex marriage plebiscite, as signed off on by the Federal Cabinet last week, is the only way to determine whether the majority of the country supports legalising it.
Despite criticisms over its $160 million price tag, Mr Joyce said a plebiscite was the fairest way forward.
"I do believe strongly in the dignity of the Australian people being able to go through this plebiscite, remembering that they're all going to get a vote ... and it's overwhelmingly what the Australian people want, even (what) Labor supporters want with their poll and they just want us to get on with it, get this thing out of the way,” Mr Joyce said.
For the national poll to go ahead on February 11, Labor must support it in the Senate, which is likely to be occur sometime next month.
Despite his personal views on what constitutes a traditional marriage, Mr Joyce vowed to back the decision of the Australian people.
Mr Joyce hit back at criticisms over why the government doesn’t just legalise it instead of spending $160 million on a plebiscite.
"Because people have such strong views, they’ll say that wasn't the view of the electorate, that wasn't the view of the Australian people,” he said.
"There is only one way to determine where a majority lies and that's with a plebiscite."
He also shut down suggestions a plebiscite could incite hate and fear from either side of the debate.
“I just get really annoyed when people say this (plebiscite) is going to create incredible animosity and people are going to be charging around throwing rocks at each other,” Mr Joyce said.
“It's not. We’re adults.”
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson insisted it was a federal issue and called for the matter to be resolved “by matter of parliament”.
“I just think the federal government should get on with it,” Mr Anderson said.
“Ultimately people are elected to do a job.
“This is quite a hot button with many people in today’s society. How can you deny the right of everyone (to marry)?”
Mr Anderson said while he hadn’t canvassed his electorate on the issue, he believed majority would back the legalising of same-sex marriage.