Conservative MPs say colleagues are betraying voters

A trio of Liberal Ministers have declared that colleagues who support the marriage laws being changed without protections for religious freedom are betraying coalition voters.

In today’s The Australian Assistant Ministers Angus Taylor, Zed Seselja and Michael Sukkar accuse gay Liberal MPs Dean Smith and Tim Wilson of failing to meet the expectations of coalition voters.

“Dean Smith, Tim Wilson and others have argued that this change is best done by a Coalition government, because we can be relied on to protect freedoms,” Taylor told The Australian.

“It’s now the job of Coalition members to live up to that promise. I for one will support protections for free speech, parental choice for their kids’ education and freedom of religion. I hope others will do the same.”

Senator Zed Seselja told the newspaper that the two MPs were failing coalition voters, both those who support marriage equality and those who are opposed to it.

“A failure to support substantial amendments to the Smith bill will be a betrayal of Coalition Yes and No voters,” Senator Seselja said.

“Dean Smith and Tim Wilson and others assured Coalition voters that getting same sex-marriage with a Coalition government would deliver much stronger protections, yet the Smith bill has been embraced by the Greens.

“We owe it to our supporters who voted both Yes and No to ­ensure that we deliver much stronger protections than a Green/Labor bill would.”

Senator Smith responded to the accusation highlighting that his private members bill was provided to his colleagues before the postal survey, and was publicly available to voters.

Michael Sukkar said coalition MPs should remember that those who support the Liberal and National parties were more likely to have voted no in the marriage survey.

Treasurer Scott Morrison told The Australian the parliament had to come up with a bill that represented thei views of all Australians rather than just those who were supportive of change.

“I want a bill that represents 100 per cent of Australians, not just 61 per cent, which means supporting religious freedoms that are not currently contained in the bill,” the Treasurer said.

WA Liberal Mp Andrew Hastie said Senator Smith and those who supported his bill had entered a “Faustian pact” to get the support of Labor and The Greens.

“The question is: what was given up by our side to earn the blessing of Labor and the Greens?” Hastie said. “If Coalition amendments to protect freedom of conscience, religion and parental rights fail this week in the Senate, it will be clear that they have traded away commitments to ­Coalition supporters.”

Long term supporter of marriage equality Warren Enstch has hit back at Sukkar, Taylor and Seselja, suggesting that rather than agitating for religious freedoms they should resign from their positions and speak freely about their concerns.

Speaking to Fairfax Media Enstch said the three could do everyone a favour by resigning their portfolios.

“So what I’m saying to these guys, these ministers is: By all means, if you want to go chasing religious exemptions and all the rest of it, please do so, but do us a favour and step down, step down from your portfolios. You can speak freely then without breaching ministerial codes,” he said.

Debate over the bill resumed in the senate this morning.

OIP Staff, Image: Clayton K Photography

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