So, there's a lot more going on in this situation than the article covers.
Originally, this was an election promise made by the current Australian PM (Malcolm Turnbull) when he was campaigning for election. He promised to hold a plebiscite on the issue of SSM. I won't bore you with the details, but it's been an issue in the Australian parliament for quite a while now. (It's also interesting to note - every other election 'promise' made by Malcolm Turnbull has been broken. Why he's sticking so firmly to this one is beyond me)
The reason this has been challenged in the High Court is due to 2 issues: government mishandling of the cash needed to conduct a plebiscite (the money they would use may not be legally accessibly), and the question of if the ABS is legally permitted to obtain/use the personal information needed to send out the survey.
The part that most people on the ground are frustrated with, is that a plebiscite is not binding. Even if a majority of Australians vote to legalize SSM, the government doesn't have to pass it into law. Given the rather large cost and the fact that the parliament can still do whatever it wants, many people agree that it's a rather pointless exercise.
However it will give the government a very clear picture on who does and does not support same sex marriage. And I think it unlikely that they will not follow the results that are shown. But, this is Australia - unfortunately our government is rather incompetent. Let's not even mention that several of them are being investigated for ineligibility as members of parliament.
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