Australian PM vows to legislate if public approves gay marriage at vote
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has pledged to pass legislation to legalise same-sex marriage, if the public votes in favour in a plebiscite.
Abbott, a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage, has refused to give coalition MPs a free vote on the issue.
His preference is to go ahead with a plebiscite, after the next election.
Some have pointed out that a plebiscite is not binding, but Warren Entsch, a Liberal MP who has introduced a bill for same-sex marriage, said he had received a guarantee from the Prime Minister.
“It’s already been committed by the Prime Minister that whatever that people’s vote is, even though generally it is not binding to Government, we have made a commitment,” Mr Entsch said.
“Whatever that vote is, we will legislate accordingly.
“[Tony Abbott] made that commitment, and this is why I’m quite happy to support it, whatever the decision of the people is, that is what will be locked in.”
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Despite all polls finding that an overwhelming majority of the public are in favour of equality – making a plebiscite effectively redundant – Mr Abbott wants to lock in a vote after the next federal election in 2017.
Entsch today criticised the cost of a plebiscite, which has been estimated at AUD$158.4 million by the Australian Electoral Commission.
The PM has threatened to sack any of his ministers who rebelled and voted in favour of equality without a public vote – but a senior backbencher has fired a warning shot over the timing of the planned plebiscite.
Under Abbott’s current plan, it is highly unlikely same-sex couples will be able to tie the knot until 2018.
Yesterday, one of Tony Abbott’s backbench MPs has fired warning shots – over stalling on a planned public vote on same-sex marriage.
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