Australian MPs might call for a planned public vote on same-sex marriage to be scrapped, over criticisms of the process.

Despite an overwhelming majority of the Australian public supporting equal marriage and a majority of MPs in favour, the current Liberal-led Coalition government refuses to put the issue to a free Parliamentary vote due to deep political divisions.

Instead, the government is planing a marriage plebiscite (public vote) after the election in 2017 – a measure which has been derided as costly, bureaucratic and pointless, given anti-gay marriage MPs insist they will not consider the vote binding either way.

Pro-gay Liberal MP Warren Entsch suggested this week that it is still possible the plebiscite plan could be ditched, allowing a free vote in Parliament.

Mr Entsch, who is working with Attorney-General George Brandis to develop the plans, told the Sydney Morning Herald that some MPs are critical of the “cost, time-frame and process” of holding a plebiscite on the issue.

He added that some would see it as difficult to justify spending $160 million on the process, if other MPs will not consider its results binding when it comes to actually introducing marriage legislation.

Rodney Croome of Australian Marriage Equality said: “Coalition members should welcome an opportunity to revisit the plebiscite plan because a lot has changed since it was first adopted.

“Polls show there is community concern about the price tag of $160 million, and there is deep concern about the fact some politicians won’t abide by the outcome.

“It’s also clear the plebiscite plan has failed to get marriage equality off the table or erase differences in the Coalition, as some Coalition members hoped.

“By contrast a free vote in parliament would cost nothing, allow all politicians to express their view, and now that we have the numbers it would resolve the issue once and for all.”