On Monday, the Australian Government approved a plan to disburse $15 million in public funding to the "yes" and "no" campaigns taking part in a national poll that will ask Australians whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. According to the state broadcaster ABC, the plebiscite is expected to cost $160 million in total.
A vocal opponent of the plebiscite, Joyce was the first high-profile corporate figure to reject the government's plan for same-sex marriage, arguing that the decision should be made by lawmakers, not put to a poll.
Australia's Marriage Act 1961 defines marriage as "the union of a man and a woman," according to the Gilbert + Tobin Centre for Public Law at the University of New South Wales. A plebiscite result has no legal standing, and the act could be changed by the federal parliament without a test of public opinion.
"The country can spend on a lot of other things, whether it's health, nurses, skills, transport. And this should be the job of parliament. Parliament is there to lead the country, to make the decisions," Joyce told CNBC in an exclusive interview.