Liberals maintain plebiscite policy on marriage equality

After meeting for two hours in an emergency session, the Liberal Party have agreed to stick with their election commitment to hold a public plebiscite on the issue of marriage equality.

Following reports that Senator Dean Smith, and four other lower house MPs might cross the floor if allowed a free vote on the issue, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recalled his party a day before parliament was due to resume to decide how they would move forward on the issue.

Emerging reports reveal that of the 83 Liberal MPs and Senators who met today, just seven MPs wanted to change their policy to allow a free vote. 27 members spoke in favour of retaining their plebiscite policy.

On their last attempt, the government’s plebiscite bill was defeated in the upper house by The Greens, Labor, Nick Xenophon Team and Senator Derryn Hinch. None of these MPs have indicated their minds have changed on the matter.

It is understood that the government would move ahead with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s proposed plan to hold a postal vote.

Speaking to media this afternoon, Western Australian Senator Matias Cormann said the government will maintain their commitment to give all Australians a say on the issue.

“The government’s intention is to put the plebiscite bill that was defeated in the senate last year back before the senate and ask them to reconsider.”

Finance Minister Cormann said the government hopes to reintroduce that legislation to the Senate this week.

When asked if the government would be bound to vote with the result of a plebiscite, whether postal or otherwise, Senator Cormann said the government would allow a “free vote informed by the outcome of the plebiscite” – giving no commitment to whether or not MPs would have to vote in line with a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ result.

Cormann said the government believes they have a legal and constitutional path forward to hold a non-legislated voluntary postal plebiscite even if their original bill should fail in the upper house once again.

When asked on what an estimated cost of a postal vote on marriage would be, Cormann said that would be addressed in the joint party room tomorrow.


OIP Staff

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