Just eight more Australian MPs need to be won over for a majority to be in favour of equal marriage.

New Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull plans to hold a plebiscite (public vote) on equal marriage after the next federal election  – while opposition leader Bill Shorten has pledged simply to implement it through Parliament if his party takes power.

Activists are focussed on achieving a Parliamentary majority on the issue – with a plebiscite derided by many as a stalling tactic, giving the massive support for equality shown in opinion polls.

Lobbying group Australian Marriage Equality has been attempting to convince MPs from across the political divide to back a proposed bill – and this week revealed they are currently just eight MPs short.

AME’s national director Rodney Croome said in a statement: “Our pre-election goal is to achieve a clear-cut majority in parliament, so regardless of whichever party wins government we will have the numbers to pass reform.

“We are now just eights votes away in the Lower House, and have a slim majority in the Senate.

“The Coalition has said members won’t be bound in the next parliament, and the upcoming election provides the platform for a nationwide campaign to win the remaining votes needed for marriage equality to pass.”

He added: “We would prefer marriage equality resolved in parliament as soon as possible, but if there has to be a plebiscite we are confident Australians will vote ‘yes’ for fairness and inclusion.”

AME has also hired seasoned political campaigner Erin McCallum to serve as campaign organiser.

She said: “It’s shameful that same-sex couples are still denied the opportunity to marry in Australia. I look forward to working with the talented and dedicated team at AME to engage as many communities as possible to achieve reform.

“As someone who is newly engaged to the man I love, I am now even more acutely aware of the dignity, joy and basic human rights denied to so many Australians.

“It will strip some of the joy away from our wedding knowing my fiancé and I are permitted to celebrate our love through marriage with our family and friends while people I care about are denied the same right.”