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Shorten questions marriage vouchers

Bill Shorten has accused the government of having its priorities 'all wrong', following Minister Andrew's confirmation that the $20 million relationship voucher scheme will go ahead.

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Australian couples will be allowed to apply for $200 "relationship vouchers" from July 1, with the Abbott government confirming the start date of the 12-month trial.

The idea is the brainchild of Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews, who wants to "help couples achieve a greater degree of happiness and stability and thereby a better environment for their children".

Despite Tony Abbott's staunch opposition to same-sex marriage, and refusal to allow a conscience vote on the issue, gay couples will be allowed to apply for the vouchers.

Under the trial scheme, the government will offer 100,000 couples a $200 subsidy for "marriage and relationship education and counselling, including components of parenting education, conflict resolution and financial management education".

Mr Andrews has designed the vouchers for couples "who are married, intending to marry or who are in a committed relationship, including same-sex couples".

"The evidence shows that strong relationships between parents make a substantial difference to a child," Mr Andrews' spokeswoman said.

The $20 million trial will run nationally for 12 months, and the government will then evaluate the results to see whether a longer term scheme should be implemented.