The ACT's new rainbow buses revealed to promote same-sex marriage 'yes' case
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The ACT's new rainbow buses revealed to promote same-sex marriage 'yes' case

Two rainbow buses will enter service in Canberra ahead of the postal vote on same-sex marriage, as the ACT government shows its support for the "yes" campaign.

The rainbow bus wraps cost $22,000, sourced from the existing Transport Canberra and City Services budget, and will be seen on buses for a minimum of three months.

Minster for Transport Canberra and City Services unveils a rainbow bus in support of marriage equality on Tuesday.

Minster for Transport Canberra and City Services unveils a rainbow bus in support of marriage equality on Tuesday. Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

They are part of a suite of activities designed to show the territory's support for LGBTIQ people before Australians cast their vote for or against marriage equality.

Transport minister Meegan Fitzharris signalled a rainbow crossing would be placed somewhere in the city precinct as well over the coming months, an idea raised by the ACT Greens when the taxpayer-funded support of the "yes" campaign was debated in the Legislative Assembly.

Minster for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury takes a photo of a bus newly painted in rainbow colours in support of marriage equality on Tuesday.

Minster for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury takes a photo of a bus newly painted in rainbow colours in support of marriage equality on Tuesday. Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

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"This is obviously, as the federal government has indicated, something that's so special that we need to go to a non-binding, voluntary postal survey about it. If it's so special then the ACT government can also contribute activities which go to support people in this very unusual time," Ms Fitzharris said.

Like other activities, Ms Fitzharris said the bus wraps were funded from existing money.

"It's certainly appropriate for the government to be able to spend its own resources, its existing resources to show support for groups in our community, individual members of our community, we do it all the time and it's really important fo the LGBTIQ community that we show our strong support at this time," Ms Fitzharris said.

"We have within our bus advertising contract the ability to be able to use different wraps for different buses at different time. It's within our existing resources and we do it each year for a rang eof different reasons to promote a variety of other activities."

About $45,000 from the budget of the new Office of LGBTIQ Affairs will be directed to "community engagement activities" ahead of the poll.

Another $105,000 was already going to a consortium of community services that already provided counselling to the LGBTIQ community.

Information about the buses' whereabouts will be posted periodically on social media.

Asked if the buses could become a target for proponents of the "no" campaign, Ms Fitzharris said she hoped not.

"I guess that question does go to the nature of how divisive this debate could be. We want to show our really strong support from Canberrans from all walks of life, not only gay and lesbian Canberrans but their friends, their family and many other people in the community who want to show their support for them," Ms Fitzharris said.

Also asked if the buses would be stopping by the Australian Christian Lobby offices in Deakin, Ms Fitzharris said she was not sure it was on the bus route.

The government attracted criticism when earlier this month it announced it would actively campaign for the "yes" vote without allocating funds for the "no" vote.

Opposition leader Alistair Coe said on Tuesday it was "wrong" and "disrespectful" to only fund one side of the debate.

"The ACT government's 'We are CBR' rainbow buses sends the message that members of the community with different views are not welcome in Canberra," Mr Coe said.

"The Canberra Liberals believe that all Canberrans, regardless of their views, culture, ethnicity, faith or sexuality should be treated with respect."

"No" campaign supporters could in theory begin their own bus advertising campaign, so long as it adhered to ACTION's strict rules.

But with a full bus wrap priced at $10,400 for production and $600 per week for the advertising space, opposition will not come cheap.

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.