The leader of the opposition in Australia, Tony Abbott, has clarified his party’s opposition to equal marriage during a community forum in Sydney.

At the forum on Monday evening, which was attended by around 500 people, Abbott, leader of the Liberal party, featured in a question and answer session during which he was continually questioned about his stance on the issue.

He was repeatedly asked by members of the crowd when he might allow a conscientious vote on equal marriage. One attendee said: “I’d like to know when you’re going to allow a conscience vote on marriage equality.”

Abbott replied: “My position on this is fairly well known. I’m fairly traditional. I support the standard definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.”

“That is our party’s position,” he continued, saying that it would not change before September’s federal election in Australia.

At the event at the beachside suburb of Manly, which is part of Abbott’s constituency of Warringah he also took questions on immigration, tax, education, climate change and superannuation.

Abbott’s daughters Bridget, 20, and Frances, 21, previously gave an interview to News Limited  and said they hoped and prayed that same-sex marriage would be legalised in Australia.

He went on to say that the policy on marriage equality after the election would be “a matter for the post election party room”.

Despite attacking the current government’s policies, Abbott chastised a member of the audience for calling Prime Minister Julia Gillard a “horrible woman”.

“It’s important that everyone in this audience and everyone in our polity generally be given a polite hearing,” he said.

Alongside Abbott, Australia’s Prime Minister Gillard continues to oppose equal marriage. Efforts to legalise the measure failed in the Australian Parliament last year.