The TV host says he is baffled by the country’s slow progress on the issue of marriage equality.

Graham Norton has criticised the Australian government over its “bonkers” reluctance to legalise gay marriage.

“Australia does seem Billy bonkers about it,” he said.

“Here is a country that is so gay friendly and the pink dollar is huge for you guys, it baffles me that you don’t have it yet.”

“Because you would think that Australia would have led the world in something like that because Australia is very good at promoting itself as this young modern democracy,” he added.

“Yet you’ve got this really arcane thing going on that America, which is so slow about change, that even they’ve managed it. It’s peculiar.”

Norton – who quit Twitter earlier this year – was speaking ahead of the launch of the new season of his chat show on Australian channel Network Ten.

He went on to draw comparisons between the proposed plebiscite in Australia and the one that took place in Ireland in May 2015.

“I think Ireland is a very optimistic story it’s a very hopeful story because in the Ireland I left in the early 80s you could never ever have predicted that that country and those people would have voted for gay people to vote for the right to marry.”

Last year, the Irish public overwhelmingly voted to bring in equal marriage – with 62% of voters backing equality, and just 38% against despite strong lobbying from the Catholic Church in the country.

Australia’s right-wing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has avoided a free Parliamentary vote on equal marriage, instead making plans to take the issue to the public in a non-binding plebiscite.

But the proposal is being blocked by opposition parties – including Labor leader Bill Shorten – who support equal marriage but see a plebiscite as costly measure that invites homophobic debate rather than swiftly resolving the issue in Parliament.