We didn’t see it coming — but Tony Abbott has just outlined a framework that might just lead to a conscience vote on marriage equality.
While Prime Minister Tony Abbott remains personally opposed to marriage equality, he appears to have opened the door for a parliamentary decision on the issue.
But he’s made one thing clear: He wants the issue to be “owned” by all sides of politics, rather than by Labor.
“A big decision on a matter such as this, it ought to be owned by the parliament and not by any particular party. I would ask the leader of the opposition and all members of parliament to consider this as we ponder these subjects in the weeks and months to come,” Mr Abbott said during question time yesterday.
The Australian reports that there is strong chance of a majority within the Coalition in favour of a conscience vote — which would free ministers to vote as they wished and would allow all MPs to support the changes without breaking with government policy.
The newspaper reports that the PM has now opened the door for a same- sex marriage vote.
Coalition backbencher Warren Entsch said yesterday that he felt Bill Shorten could be sabotaging the chances for marriage equality by rushing the bill.
“You’d wonder whether or not he’s just trying to destroy the opportunity,” said the backbencher who supports gay marriage. He’s not going to do any favours. It’s just come out of the blue.”
He confirmed he will not support Labor’s private member’s bill, saying instead he will lobby for the Coalition party room to start discussing whether to hold a conscience vote after the parliamentary winter break.
“The prime minister said to me to come back with a proposal on this and I indicated that I was looking at August and he didn’t say no,” Entsch said.
On Tuesday, Federal Opposition leaders announced they will introduce a bill for marriage equality to Parliament next week.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek has announced the good news on Facebook, saying she and Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten will present a bill for marriage equality to the Parliament on Monday.
“The time for marriage equality in Australia has well and truly come. Together we can get this done,” her message read.
The developments come just days after Ireland voted in favour of same-sex marriage,.