Australian PM faces growing threat of revolt from equal marriage supporters
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is facing growing threats of a rebellion from “quite a number” of his own MPs over his stalling on equal marriage.
The country’s right-wing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been under growing pressure to pass an equal marriage law, due to overwhelming public support.
Mr Turnbull refuses to permit a vote in Parliament on the issue, due to strong opposition from key members of his government, who insist the issue can only be settled by a nationwide ballot.
However, as the public runs out of patience, pro-gay factions within Turnbull’s coalition have threatened to rebel and back a free vote in Parliament – after an MP for the governing Liberal Party, Dean Smith, submitted a private member’s bill on the issue.
The issue could come to a head next week, when Turnbull’s coalition is expected to meet to agree a stance on Mr Smith’s bill.
In an interview with The Australian, gay Liberal MP Trevor Evans hinted that “quite a number” of MPs were considering their options on the issue, despite the party line remaining against a free vote.
He said: “There is a still a number of ways to achieve reform, but I think the quickest and most likely course now is to allow politicians to have a free vote … and I support that.
“I am talking with colleagues, quite a number of colleagues, about different options that sit in front of us at the moment.’
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The MP would not be drawn on whether he would cross the floor on the issue against his leader’s wishes.
He said: “I don’t think it is useful to entertain all of the hypotheticals on how it might be achieved.
“I am not ruling anything out… there is a number of ways that things can be brought onto the floor in order to have a vote.”
Just three government MPs would need to rebel in order to force the issue to the floor in Parliament – while half a dozen are outspoken in support in same-sex marriage.
The issue will certainly cause a headache for Turnbull, who came to power in an internal party coup. During the leadership challenge, Mr Turnbull allegedly gave private assurances to anti-LGBT conservatives that he would not change the party position on same-sex marriage.
Breaking that promise may not end well for the leader.
According to the Australian, several MPs have warned that Mr Turnbull’s position would be “untenable’’ if he permits a free vote in Parliament.