politics

Christopher Pyne changes tune after pushing for marriage equality "sooner rather than later".

Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne has gone back to toeing the party line – and the Coalition’s plan for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage – after a leaked tape revealed him saying the government must deliver marriage equality “before too long”.

The leaked audio was of Pyne talking to members of the Liberal Party while out at a bar on Friday night.

He was recorded reportedly saying same-sex marriage will be made legal “sooner than everyone thinks”. And that “one of those things that we’ve got to deliver before too long is marriage equality in this country”.

This sounds like good news, right?

Problem is, the claim has since been rejected by fellow party members who weren’t at the bar; the audio has led to rumours of division within the Liberal Party; and the whole thing has re-ignited the debate around same-sex marriage and the merits danger of a referendum on the issue.

Worst of all, Pyne is now carefully treading the party line. Away from talk of the “government delivering” and back to talk of a plebiscite.

The frontbencher was quizzed about the issue on last night’s Q&A

“Behind closed doors, Christopher Pyne has said that same-sex marriage is to be legalised sooner rather than later – a claim that has been rejected by key Cabinet members,” the questioner told the panel. “Will this disagreement within the Coalition advance the case of same-sex marriage, or will it hinder it?”

And Pyne’s response:

“Well, I’m in favour of marriage equality. I always have been. I spoke to a group of supporters – generally – of marriage equality on Friday night, and told them what I’ve said many times before in the media, which is to have hope that there will be marriage equality in Australia, that it will come eventually.”

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“I want there to be a vote of the people so that they are part of that outcome. That was a policy we put to the parliament. Labor voted it down. If they voted for the plebiscite, we could have had marriage equality in February or March of 2017 because, long as it was carried, the parliament would have agreed to pass whatever the people wanted.”

But the people – including several of Pyne’s fellow panellists on last night’s Q&A – don’t want a plebiscite.

Christopher Pyne during question time on Budget Day at Parliament House. Image via Getty.

It is a divisive and dangerous way to grant equal rights. It will lead to hate speak and further discrimination (as if the LGBTIQ community hasn't faced enough) and, more than this, a plebiscite is not necessarily conclusive.

As Labor MP Clare O'Neil told the panel: "This is actually a fundamental issue of the rights of thousands and thousands of Australians and their families to be equal before the law. Let's remember here that no matter what happens in a plebiscite, the parliament is the one that will have to decide this."

This is exhausting: We have a senior Liberal MP who wants marriage equality "sooner rather than later". A Labor MP recognising it as a human rights issue. And an entire community of people fighting for their right to love who they want to love, officially.

Why can't it just be done?

The internet is not happy with Pyne:

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