'Of course I'm disappointed in my brother.' The PM's sister on how she feels about the gay marriage vote.

The Prime Minister’s sister sounds angry.  But Christine Forster is struggling to sound contained.

Last night, her brother and fellow Liberal Tony Abbott presided over a Coalition Party meeting that overwhelming voted against allowing its MPs a free conscience vote on gay marriage.

This is a huge blow for Christine Forster and her fiance Virginia, and means they, and other gay and lesbian Australians, cannot marry the people they love. Gay marriage now can’t happen until after the next election, when the Prime Minister has said he will call a referendum to hear what the people have to say.

Christine Forster and her brother, Tony Abbott.

Note to Tony Abbott - they say 'YES' - in about the same proportion as the Coalition MPs say 'no'.

Talking to Debrief Daily, a still upset Christine Forster tries to laugh through her disappointment - but admits she and her Virginia went to the pub last night to drown their sorrows with a beer.

"We are both very disappointed and millions of Australians are also disappointed by this decision ...  I'm on an emotional roller coaster to be honest. Yeah, there are negative emotions around it."

We asked Christine if she was disappointed by her brother on a personal and political level.

"Of course I’m disappointed in my brother, it’s a personal issue … it’s linked with personal family relationships. I respect his view and I understand his view, but I disagree with it. This has an immediate and personal impact."

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While Christine hasn't spoken to Tony Abbott about yesterday's vote she says, "he knows how I feel about it." She has chatted to other MPs supportive of a conscience vote and gay marriage.

She also suggests he may have misled parliament about it. "Six weeks ago the Prime Minister told parliament this would be decided by all of the parliament. But it can't be. Because all of the parliament can't decide now. One side is bound to vote no."

When asked if MPs and ministers should cross the floor to vote for gay marriage next week she laughs ruefully.

"I can’t speak for them, but if I was one of them I would be of mind to. But there's more at stake for me on this than them .. there are some fine Liberals who have worked hard for this and they won’t give up and I won’t give up ... It was what had been promised … It was the wrong result … I would have like to have seen my party make a decision about liberal rights to individual rights and equality before law."

(L-R) Tony Abbott, Christine Forster, Christine's fiancee Virginia and NSW premier, Mike Baird.

So will she and her fiance Virginia go overseas to get married?


"No. We will wait  … it’s important to both of us that we get married here. It’s our home"

We asked how long she would wait.

"How long is a piece of string? It's a bit longer than it was yesterday that's for sure".

The Prime Minister has said he has kept his faith with the Australian people and there will be a referendum on gay marriage after the next election. Christine Forster is "very worried" about that idea.

"I say bring it on. It is not a constitutional issue, and the polls suggest a majority for it - but if they need to see proof then they can have it. It's expensive and unnecessarily divisive in the community. If politicians can’t make decisions on this without division, how can the public?

"The last thing we want is people turning on each other. We are fighting for inclusion and respect, so why would you want division over love? It's an unnecessary divisive route to take."

Ms Forster also suggests the people will "decide at ballot box" - and this has the potential to hurt her party at the election.

"The ultimate plebiscite will be in the election … it will be a big issue and an important issue for millions."

Christine Forster and Tony Abbott.

So does she feel it could hurt the Prime Minister's leadership?

"I don’t have a say who is leader of federal party. I won't speculate. I wasn’t in party room, I can’t comment," she says.

"I have spoken to others who were in the room … those fighting for change … those people are disappointed."

So is the Liberal party a true Liberal party with true Liberal values if it can't give a free vote on such an issue?

"Ha, I"ll take that as a comment. It's a fair observation. From my personal observation we are moving away from liberal values. It should be a conscience vote; that's the only way it could have been owned by parliament, which the Prime Minister said would happen."

It's probably quite a burden to balance a personal relationship with her brother and a political fight for her rights, but Christine Forster understands she's become a lightning rod for the issue of gay marriage.

"I can't change that.I have a voice on this and it's better for me to have a voice than not have one."

She admits she brings the topic up at family dinners and the like.

Debrief Daily would love to be a fly on the wall at the next one.

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