news

He fought us from the start. But when it came time to vote, where was Tony Abbott?

On Thursday evening just before six, our parliament stood up and legalised what Australians  said they wanted – marriage equality.

After three long days of debate and discussion, during which more than 120 members spoke on the issue, the Australian government chose to honour the 61.6 per cent who voted ‘yes’.

We heard many impassioned speeches about what same-sex marriage means to them.

Labor MP Linda Burney returned to parliament in honour of her gay son, Binni, who passed away eight weeks ago. And Liberal MP Tim Wilson proposed to his partner, Ryan Bolger, from the floor of the House.

We also heard the argument for ‘no’. Bob Katter gave us ramblings about “boys in dresses”, AIDS, and Gianni Versace. But arguably the biggest obstacle between Australians and legalising marriage equality was Tony Abbott.

Yet when it came time for the final vote, a vote which resulted from the $100 million postal survey Abbott so fiercely defended when he led the coalition, he was no where to be seen.

Tony Abbott leaving the chamber moments before the final vote. Image: AAP One.
ADVERTISEMENT

While no official record of votes are taken in the event of such a one-sided result, a handful of MPs reportedly abstained from voting at all, leaving the chamber before the final vote, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Tony Abbott was one of them.

For a man who once said, “We want the people’s choice, and what could be fairer than leaving this to the people of Australia?”, opting not to join the four lonely figures who sat in the chamber on the wrong side of history was the ultimate act of cowardice.

LISTEN: Thankfully, Tony's daughter, Frances Abbott will be remembered for being on the right side of history (post continues after audio...)

After effectively putting millions of LGBTQI Australians through the pain of having their rights scrutinised and debated by people they may never meet, he chose to exit stage right.

He didn't back himself and the process he proposed way back in 2015. Because, of course, it was only a good idea when it served his interests.

So while we will forever remember December 7, 2017 as the day our parliament made history, history will remember Tony Abbott as the man who walked away.

00:00 / ???