Liberal MPs say they are not bound by marriage plebiscite

Eric Abetz

Conservative members of the Liberal party have said they may not vote with the majority despite the public’s response to marriage equality through a nation-wide plebiscite.

Senator Eric Abetz told media that he would reserve his judgement until after the results of the plebiscite had been determined, while Senator Cory Bernardi has said he would not vote in favour of same-sex marriage; “Even if the public voted for it.”

Senator Abetz told Guardian Australia that he would need to determine whether the plebiscite is a true reflection of Australia’s view.

“I would need to determine … whether it is all above board or whether the question is stacked, whether all sides received public funding,” Senator Abetz said.

“But everyone knows my view is very strongly between a man and a woman is the foundational institution for socialising the next generation. And every member of Parliament will make up his or her mind after the plebiscite is held,” the Tasmanian Senator continues,

“People will take into account the views of the electorate, the views of the nation and their own personal views.”

South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi was more certain than Mr Abetz, telling Fairfax media that “even if the public voted for [same-sex marriage], I wouldn’t vote for it.

“It goes against what I believe in. This is a substantial issue and, in the annals of public policy, you want to be on the record about your views,” Senator Bernardi said.


Members from within the Coalition have branded the gesturing as bizarre with Marriage equality advocate and Liberal-National MP Warren Entsch deeming the calls “extraordinary” and Liberal frontbencher Steve Ciobo telling Sky News that to ignore the Australian people is “passing strange”.

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has accused Senator Abetz of making a joke of the Coalition’s promise to let the people decide on marriage equality.

“Eric Abetz has let the cat out of the bag, admitting the Liberals are not planning to take any notice of the expressed will of the Australian people,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“This absurd notion makes a complete joke of our democratic process and renders a $160 million national plebiscite totally pointless.”

The Greens are calling on Prime Minister Turnbull to scrap the plebiscite altogether, following reports that some MPs plan to ignore the result.

“It’s ironic that Eric Abetz doesn’t want a conscience vote on the issue of marriage equality but when it comes to implementing the outcome of any plebiscite that’s a different story,” Greens LGBTI spokesperson Senator Robert Simms released in a statement.

“He wants some sort of veto power if he doesn’t like the outcome. This just demonstrates what a complete nonsense this plebiscite is. Why should Australians be exposed to a costly and divisive plebiscite if conservative MPs aren’t even bound to accept the outcome?”

Senator Simms says it’s time for the parliament to decide and the Prime Minister to grant Coalition MPs a conscience vote.

“Why should the views of Eric Abetz and Tony Abbott be more valuable than the views of other members of the Government?,” Senator Simms asked.

OIP Staff





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