Australian PM refuses to back free vote on same-sex marriage bill
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has refused to back a free vote for MPs on an upcoming same-sex marriage bill.
Lone Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm introduced a Freedom to Marry private member’s bill last week.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a staunch opponent of equal marriage despite overwhelming public support for the measure – but has faced calls to allow his MPs to have a free vote on the bill.
However, he refused to support calls for a conscience vote on the bill for his MPs today – backing away from earlier comments.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald: “Normally, opposition private members motions in the Senate are dealt with without a vote [in the party room].
“Now, if this one is different, well, obviously the party room will consider it.
“But if is dealt with in the normal way, it won’t actually come before the party room.”
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The opposition Labour party has already said it will allow its MPs a conscience vote on the issue.
Rodney Croome of Australian Marriage Equality said: “Mr Abbott made a clear, unequivocal pre-election promise to allow his coalition colleagues to debate and decide on a conscience vote.
“By honouring this commitment Mr Abbott will help quell concerns that he all-too-lightly breaks his commitments to the electorate.
“I back Senator Leyonhjelm’s challenge to Mr Abbott because, like the majority of Australians, I want to see parliament get on with this overdue reform.”
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